Hurricane Electric IP Transit Review
Hurricane Electric (HE) is an Internet backbone providing a number of services including colocation, IP transit (dedicated Internet access/paid peering) and layer 2 transport (private line). A company I work for has been using Hurricane Electric as one of our upstream Internet Service Providers for a number of years. This is a review of HE's IP transit services and how Hurricane Electric compares to other Internet providers.
Who Is Hurricane Electric
HE is an Internet backbone based in the United States. They have Points of Presence (POPs) throughout the world and serve as an Internet backbone. They are one of the largest Internet providers in the world, usually ranking in the top dozen largest networks (depending on what metric you are using).
One of the ways that Hurricane Electric has made a name for themselves is through their aggressive adaptation of IPv6. They were one of the first network-wide duel stack (IPv4 and IPv6) providers. Today they are the largest IPv6 network in the world, peering with more IPv6 enabled networks than anyone else. As the Internet (slowly) moves to IPv6, HE can be expected to use their IPv6 status to their advantage.
To connect to Hurricane Electric you will usually need to have a presence at one of their POPs. HE does not provide last mile service, which means they are usually not an option for residential or office buildings, unless those buildings use another provider to get transport into a POP that HE is located at.
In sum Hurricane Electric is an Internet backbone and can provide services similar to those provided by companies such as Cogent, NTT, GTT, Telia, etc. They offer transit at a great price and have a very simple service model without a lot of bells and whistles.
Hurricane Electric Wins on Price
If price is the deciding factor for whom to choose for your upstream, HE is almost always going to be the winner. They are often two to three times cheaper than any other option. Price is how HE has been able to grow to one of the world's largest ISPs in about twenty years' time.
The Internet business is funny in that prices go down over the years. As of right now, HE is selling IP transit for around 13 cents/Mbps at some of their locations, but this is going to continue to keep dropping as technology advances.
HE offers 100Mbps, 1Gbps, 10Gbps, and 100Gbps ports and usually offers one to three year terms.
Hurricane Electric Reliability
For the price you pay, you are getting exceptional service with HE. HE's reliability is not that different from most other ISP providers. Sometimes there are fiber cuts, sometimes a line card dies. The reliability and uptime that you get will largely depend on the location that you are getting service into. When considering getting transit from Hurricane Electric, make sure you understand how many redundant lines that HE has into the location you are looking at. HE does have a small handful of locations that are stubs on their network. This means that there is a single HE line going into and out of that location, meaning that if that one path goes down due to a fiber cut, you will be unable to connect to the Internet until the fiber cut is fixed.
If you are getting service somewhere like New York City, which has high redundant connectivity, the reliability should not be a problem.
If reliability is your main concern you need to have more than one uplink going through more than one ISP. Hurricane Electric can be a nice addition to an uplink bundle but should probably not be your first or only choice as they compete more on price than on reliability.
Hurricane Electric Support
HE has 24/7 support based in the United States. They are quick to answer emails and phones and have been quick to reply to any issues we might have been seeing.
It seems like HE has two layers of support. Tier 1 support, who are OK, but can be limited in their knowledge and do not have 'enable' access on their equipment and tier 2 support who are knowledgeable network engineers.
The great thing about HE's support is that they are rapid to respond. Some network providers have an insane amount of protocol and bureaucracy, and it can take 48 hours before someone even looks at your trouble ticket. With Hurricane Electric we would often get an email reply within the hour from one of their network engineers.
While their support is overall very good, HE is not proactive in their outage notifications. They have a very hands-off approach of your service and will not inform you if they see an issue with your service. Other ISPs will automatically open a ticket if they see a problem on your port. This means that you will want to have your own network monitoring in place if you are using HE. As a general rule, you should have your own network monitoring no matter who your ISP is.
Turning Up New Service
One thing worth noting is that Hurricane Electric will get you and running faster than any other ISP I have ever worked with. They provision IPs, setup BGP and allocate ports in a matter of hours. It's pretty amazing, and the first time I was turning up with them, they were ready to go before I even had my equipment installed. Other ISPs I have worked with can take weeks just to allocate a port for their customer.
If you need to turn up ASAP, Hurricane Electric can get you up and running faster than anyone else I have worked with.
Hurricane Electric Peering
One important piece of information is that Hurricane Electric lacks BGP communities that their customers may use. They have a blackhole community, and that's about it. You will not be able to shape traffic with BGP communities through HE the same way you do with others ISPs.
Also note that HE is happy to peer with anyone for free. This means that you might want to buy transit from another provider and just peer with HE for free through an exchange. HE is also happy to offer free IPv6 transit through peering over an exchange. This means you get free access to one of the world's largest IPv6 network without paying anything. This is another reason why you might want to buy IP transit from another provider and then just peer with HE.
HE.net, Simple Internet At A Great Price
In sum, HE will provide you good Internet service at a very good price. Their service is simple and hands off without BGP communities or proactive support. Even if you don't buy their services, you can establish free peering with them over an Internet exchange.