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Level 3 outage slows down the internet

Internet services around the world have suffered a major slowdown following an outage on Level 3’s tier one fibre network

An undisclosed fault on communications provider Level 3’s global fibre network has caused an internet slowdown impacting a number of different services around the world.

Reports have come in of disruption to internet traffic in the UK, France, Germany and Italy, as well as across the US. Computer Weekly understands the outage has affected a range of websites, including eBay and Yahoo Mail, and gaming services on PSN and Xbox Live.

A number of internet service providers (ISPs) have taken the step of disabling transit across the Level 3 network in an attempt to mitigate the slowdown.

ISP Plusnet took to Twitter to say it was aware of issues relating to being unable to access certain websites and content. 

“This is affecting multiple ISPs and not just Plusnet,” it said.

Southampton-based voice over internet protocol (VoIP) wholesaler Simwood confirmed via a blog post that it temporarily disabled its Level 3 ports and made a number of routing changes to try to get around the congestion.

Simwood said it believed the issue may have begun in the Far East, where a leak in the border gateway protocol (BGP) between Telekom Malaysia and Level 3 caused significant uptick in BGP message and packet loss.

This in turn caused Level 3 to trip maximum prefix limits with other tier one network operators, which resulted in their sessions being disabled, with the traffic that would normally traverse Level 3’s network having to find alternate routes, said Simwood.

Colorado-based Level 3 did not confirm whether or not this was the case, but earlier took the unusual step of circulating a media statement via a photo attachment on Twitter.

“Our network is currently experiencing service disruptions affecting customers in Europe, Middle-East and Africa, and globally,” said the company.

“Ensuring the stability of our network and communications services is our primary concern and we are dedicated to minimising impact to our customers.

“Our technicians have isolated the issue and are currently completing the necessary remedial works. We are starting to see normal service return,” it said.

Update: 5.00pm 12 June

Level 3 has subsequently released the following statement: "Level 3's network, alongside some other ISPs, experienced service disruptions affecting customers in EMEA [Europe, Middle East and Africa] and globally on June 12th. Maintaining a reliable, high-performing network for our customers is our top priority. Our network technicians worked to resolve the issue, and services have been widely restored. The root cause has been isolated and linked back to an Asian provider issue; we are working closely together to address this and prevent it from recurring."

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