Two major Internet backbone companies are feuding, potentially cutting off significant swaths of the Internet for some of each other's customers.
On Wednesday, network company Level 3 Communications cut off its direct "peering" connections to another big network company called Cogent Communications. That technical action means that some customers on each company's network now will find it impossible, or slower, to get to Web sites on the other company's network.
William Steele, a senior network engineer for Syncro Services, said his company noticed the problem Wednesday morning.
"There are some people I can't send an e-mail to," Steele said. "At home, I have Road Runner as an ISP, and wasn't even able to remotely connect in order to manage our servers."
Peering arrangements are maintained by network companies that agree to connect their networks directly together to exchange traffic more efficiently. When the companies are of roughly equal size, money rarely exchanges hands.
Level 3 contends that its arrangement with Cogent is no longer financially viable, since it is larger than the other company. It has asked Cogent to seek other arrangements, possibly including paying for the traffic exchange, a Level 3 representative said.