The fact that Sprint has reconnected this indicates clearly that they intend to fight this battle in court rather than in the routing tables or in the court of public opinion. This fact alone makes this likely to be one of the more interesting peering disputes of the last few years. But the resolution may take months or years, given the speed with which the courts move.
Data Center Knowledge has a slightly more positive take on this:
The good news is that the two companies appear willing to try and work out their differences without using one another’s customers as bargaining chips. For now, anyway.
So for now, Sprint has lost the game of chicken they were playing with Cogent. They admit this on their own site; let’s have a look at the statement they issued:
The events of October 30th related only to disconnection of the final two interconnects (of 10 original interconnections) between Sprint and Cogent. In addition to notifying Cogent 30 days in advance of our intent to disconnect, Sprint’s first disconnect action took place on October 7th, 2008. Between October 7th and October 30th, Sprint disconnected one or two ports each week with Cogent’s full awareness. During this period, Cogent failed to take any action in support of its own customers’ ongoing Internet reachability even though such actions were fully under its control.
In other words, Sprint has been disconnecting Cogent very slowly, hoping they would budge and start paying to maintain the remaining links. They even took care to disconnect the links after normal business hours, giving Cogent the entire evening to give in. That didn’t work, so the first thing they did after the weekend was restore access so their customers would stop complaining.
In these kinds of situations, Cogent has always won, partly because of their low pricing. Cogents customers know what they can expect for their money; Sprint customers pay at least 2.5 times as much, so they demand more from their provider. Cogent is also quick to lure Sprint customers away:
In the over 1300 on-net locations worldwide where Cogent provides service, Cogent is offering every Sprint-Nextel wireline customer that is unable to connect to Cogent’s customers a free 100 megabit per second connection to the Internet for as long as Sprint continues to keep this partitioning of the Internet in place.
All in all, I expect the link between Cogent and Sprint to stay online for the coming months; it just doesn’t make any sense for Sprint to disconnect it again.