Growing Neutrality

Friday, September 25, 2009


This week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced plans to expand net neutrality rules. His announcement was met with consternation from at least one wireless service provider; AT&T argued that it should be allowed to limit some internet activity. But Genachowski disagrees.

Comments [3]

Daniel Bennett from Washington, DC

Except for the descent into geek-speak of the previous commenter, oh4real of Austin, the comment brings up a real and uncovered issue by OTM or any other media source I am aware of. The architecture of the Internet, short for inter-network--a network of networks--depends on dump pipes. Unlike the old phone network, where the network had all the smarts and the devices (usually phones) were relatively unsophisticated, the Internet is a relatively simple network that supports smart devices. Without understanding the architecture of the Internet, for example, how trying to layer in more intelligence into the network rather than the end devices may impair the whole Internet, discussion of network neutrality misses key points. By allowing the discussion be a binary winners and losers in the marketplace argument, OTM is falling into a trap of balance over substance (usually OTM shows in the realm of media coverage). To be fair, many technologists are not aware of architecture of systems, so finding a voice for this crucial aspect is probably difficult. Better luck in future stories.

Daniel Bennett

Sep. 27 2009 01:00 PM
oh4real from Austin, TX

NetNeu isn't about Google getting a better $bit rate than some innovator because it is so big, so much as it is about ComCast/VZ/ATT/TWC/etc unfairly charging Netflix 100X the $bit to keep them from competing with their own on-demand service, which uses the exact same broadband pipe.
Or ATT slowing or charging Google more, thus making its partner Yahoo's search more convenient.

Also, net neutrality opponents' arguments are mostly mythical - consumers and businesses already pay higher rates for higher speeds (1.5Mb/3.0Mb/6.0Mb/etc.) - which are presumably needed for bigger files/more packets in streaming.

#1 to avoid 90 secs of buffering for NF Watch Instantly, I can upgrade my ATT package;
#2 latency by Netflix would cost subscribers, so they buy fat pipe.

@Bob - #2 is to your point, NF carries bigger loads, so they pay bigger tolls. They use it more often so they pay more to avoid latency - similar to truckers using clear toll roads instead of free interstates. BUT, it can not matter whether load is peas or cows.

One NetNeu argument that has validity, IMHO, is regarding transversing packets. A NYC user watching Netflix movie from server in CA may have packets that use Qwest pipes.
Qwest isn't managing the subscribers, but must build network to handle the transverse packet load spikes as packets dont discriminate by network. So spikes in transverse packets impact Qwest subscribers' experience through slower networks than promised and transverse packet revenue may not offset Qwest's capital improvements or risk losing subs.

Having said that, NetNeu opponents dont make the latter argument very often or propose reasonable solutions;
IMHO, they just want to throttle competitors - direct or partners'.

Net metering is not a solution - as long as the broadband guys don't count their own packets. E.g. TWC trying net metering where 1 movie/mo breaks the caps - meanwhile giving unlimited TV and on-demand movies to subs over same pipe.

Sep. 27 2009 12:15 PM

I'm not sure I get the rules of the road concept. It seems to me that the world does differentiate by content on the roads. The bigger your tank/lower your gas mileage, the more gas tax you pay. The more axles you have, the bigger the toll you pay...

In any case, when it comes to the internet, the ISPs built the road. It seems like they should be able to differentiate as well as get a return on their investment.

Sep. 25 2009 06:35 PM

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