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Valley-free violation in Internet routing: analysis based on BGP Community data

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The valley-free rule defines patterns of routing paths that allow the Internet Autonomous Systems (AS) to minimize their routing costs through selective announcement of BGP routes. The valley-free rule has been widely perceived as a universal property of the Internet BGP routing that is only violated due to transient configuration errors. Analysing the valley-free violations is important for a better understanding of BGP behaviour and inter-domain routing. This requires knowledge of the business relationships between ASes. The ground-truth data of AS relationships are not publicly available. Previous algorithms have inferred AS relationships based on the assumption that AS paths should be valley-free. Such inference results are biased and can not provide an objective assessment of the valley-free rule. Instead we extract the AS relationships directly from routing polices encoded in the BGP Community attribute. We are able to extract the business relationship of more than 30% of AS links based on BGP data collected from the RouteViews and RIPE RIS repositories in June 2011. We use our inferred AS relationships to analyse the valley-free violations in BGP routing. We reveal that the non valley-free paths are significantly more frequent than previously reported. As many as one fifth of AS paths in IPv6 BGP updates are valley paths. A substantial portion of these valley paths are persistent during the whole month of measurement. These observations strongly indicate that the valley paths are not merely a result of BGP misconfigurations. Instead they are the outcome of complex business relationships and deliberate policies by ASes using distinct unconventional models.