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Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate

Some of the loudest voices in the network neutrality debate squared off at a Senate hearing Tuesday morning as Congress considers overhauling sections of the Telecom Act of 1996. (See Net Neutrality Goes to Washington.)

Both the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce are now drafting legislation that would rewrite large sections of the 1996 Act.

The net neutrality issue centers on the common carriage responsibilities of broadband providers in an age when more and fatter IP services are being pushed down the broadband pipe to the consumer. (See LR Poll: Net 'Squatters' Should Pay.)

Some in Congress believe new laws are needed requiring broadband services providers (the telcos and the cable MSOs) to reserve equal bandwidth for competing services provided by the likes of Vonage and Google. (See Google Says No to QOS Fees.)

“Even as we welcome the deregulation of our telecommunications system, we must preserve some limited elements of openness and non-discrimination,” Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s “Chief Internet Evangelist,” Vinton Cerf, told the committee. “In this regard, Google supports tailored, minimally intrusive safeguards to promote net neutrality.” (See Google Goes to Wonkytown.)

Sitting side by side facing the committee members were Cerf, United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) CEO Walter McCormick, Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG) CEO Jeffrey Citron, National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) CEO Kyle McSlarrow, and Incompas CEO Earl Comstock.

“We need to preserve net neutrality for the interests of the next Google waiting to be born in some dorm room or garage,” Cerf added. Vonage’s Citron looked pleased.

The RBOCs were represented by their trade group, the USTA, and their message was simple. “We will not block, impair, or degrade content, applications in any way,” said USTA’s McCormick. He would repeat the remark nearly verbatim several times during the hearing.

Both McCormick and the NCTA’s McSlarrow said their member companies have spent billions aggressively building out their networks, and will continue doing so as long as the financial incentive isn't stripped away by new regulation.

“The issue here is whether or not Congress will enact new legislation that will leave little or no incentive to invest in new networks,” McSlarrow said. “[If you do] you will force networks to compete only on size and price.”

Comptel’s Comstock scoffed at the assertion, remarking that the network operators write off more in depreciation on their networks every year than they invest in them. (See QOS Fees Could Change Everything .)

At several points during the hearing, the cable and telephone companies -- which together control 98 percent of the broadband access lines in the U.S. -- were accused of creating a scarcity of Internet bandwidth so that competing IP services like Vonage get only what's left over.

McCormick repeated that this has not happened, insisting that many of the network neutrality horror stories being proposed were really just hypothetical problems -- “what-ifs” -- that haven’t really happened yet. (See New Telecom Bill Draws Raves.)

Citron, though, pointed out that his company was blocked by the carrier Madison River Communications , and has since been blocked by several smaller carriers. He said Vonage was forced to organize “workarounds” to remedy the problems, and in some cases wasn't able to offer service.

McCormick told the panel the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) already has the authority under current law to prevent network operators from discriminating against certain services running over their networks. “The Commission has made it clear that it has both the authority and the appetite to move swiftly to intervene.”

McCormick was probably referring to the Madison River incident, the only documented network neutrality foul committed by a network operator thus far. When Madison River blocked Vonage traffic on its broadband network, it was summarily slapped down by the FCC for its actions. (See Vonage Victorious in Blocking Case.)

Had the Madison River incident occurred after the Brand X decision, the FCC wouldn't have had the authority to slap Madison River's hand. (See Brand X Decision Stokes VOIP Worries.)

The Supreme Court's Brand X decision last year declared that cable networks are not “telecommunication networks” but rather “information services,” and thus their owners aren’t subject to many common carriage responsibilities. The FCC soon after released an order extending the courtesy to telco networks.

Meanwhile, some members of Congress appeared a bit confused over the nuances of the debate. The committee chair, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) compared broadband pipes to oil pipelines in his home state of Alaska. [Ed. note: Sen. Stevens, it should be noted, compares everything to oil pipelines.] Stevens at one point told Google’s Vinton Cerf, “You certainly have a wonderful search engine there.”

But the Senator has been around and has seen these debates before. He fretted during the hearing that if the Congress erred on net neutrality legislation, it would be a very slow process to “put the genie back in the bottle.”

The network neutrality issue is just one of many aspects of the Telecom Act that lawmakers are considering changing. Others include VOIP e911, CALEA, and the Universal Service Fund.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

directorblue 12/5/2012 | 4:05:35 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate 1) Will you use deep packet inspection to analyze and/or meter customer behavior?

2) Will you offer tiered (e.g., "gold", "silver", and "bronze") Internet packages to customers who are otherwise operating at the same bandwidth?

3) Will you monitor, delay and/or block voice-over-IP (VoIP), peer-to-peer file transfers, or any other service by customers?

Cisco's new SEF hardware, which is being hawked to the carriers, implies that they are indeed interested in these areas:

http://directorblue.blogspot.c...

telco1158 12/5/2012 | 4:06:27 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate "Bottom line, one can do all this QoS services, provided there is free market and competition in effect. This is certainly NOT the case."

At this stage of the debate, that's pretty much where I am at. I wish our industry was vibrant enough to spawn more legitimate players within the same market.
telco1158 12/5/2012 | 4:06:27 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Counting two competitors (the ILEC and the local cable co) for a market as important as broadband is inadequate. Even if you're in a big enough market and throw in satellite or another provider, that still makes enough competitors to count on one hand.

The point of having competition is to provide an alternative if the customer is unsatisfied. All these types of providers have histories of notorious customer service, no matter how deep your pocket. Doesn't that illustration just squash the notion of competition availability?

An area where competition IS available to the consumer is the auto industry. There are plenty of makes, models, styles and budgets to go around.
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:06:28 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate
So, QoS does get sold (and yes insurance counts). Metrics under which pricing models change is based on the service.

Now, there is no competition (so cable companies don't exist - I will let them know to disconnect my cable modem). I am also guessing all these wireless bypass startups.

Also for competition remember alternate technologies exist. For example, in Video QoS there is this alternative called NetFlix....

seven
rjs 12/5/2012 | 4:06:28 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Seven:

That is true. There are various levels of service for ground transport, available to everyone at
UPFRONT rates. However, it is not dependent on the content (unless you consider insurance, and even then, it is based on a completely different metric of dollars insured).

Also, bear in mind that this pricing of different class of transport services is self governed and contained by competition and the ease with which
competitors can enter the market and provide the same services. If USPS, FEDEX or UPS started behaving badly (because they feel entitled to all the money their clients are making) by raising the rates, there will numerous upstarts who will take advantage of a disgruntled customer base.

Bottom line, one can do all this QoS services, provided there is free market and competition in effect. This is certainly NOT the case.

-RJS



" rjs,

They do. And if you ship something valuable they charge you more. If you send something heavy they charge you more. If you want something shipped faster, they charge you more.

seven "
unlimited 12/5/2012 | 4:06:28 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pu...

Unlimited
Stevery 12/5/2012 | 4:06:30 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate seven to rjs : They do. And if you ship something valuable they charge you more. If you send something heavy they charge you more. If you want something shipped faster, they charge you more.

And even more curiously: it's an organization that is owned and operated by the gov't. Important enough to be established by the Constitution in the late 1700s. It allowed newspapers in the mail at (artificially) low rates, so that communications would be well established in the new nation.

BTW, I don't know where my own opinion is on the net neutrality debate. I think I can argue both sides, sometimes in the same sentence. But my point on Netflix was that the analogy to net neutrality was quite confused.
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:06:30 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate
rjs,

They do. And if you ship something valuable they charge you more. If you send something heavy they charge you more. If you want something shipped faster, they charge you more.

seven
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 4:06:30 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Stevery, rjs, Seven,

Netflix use the same bulk mail rate for all the dvd that they shipped out. But, they give priority in processing and shipping packet/dvd to their less frequent and normal user. For the heavy user, their dvd request is lower in priority. Since heavy user request more dvd, a lower priority in processing just drop them into receiving almost the same number of dvd as other normal users.

Please noted that this policy is based on per user and traffic pattern basis.

1) It only punishes the heavy user.

2) It only lowers the heavy user usage pattern to the normal user.

Dreamer
rjs 12/5/2012 | 4:06:30 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate STEVERY:

I think USPS, FEDEX and UPS should start charging
the customers (Netflix et al) a percentage fee.
They should increase their profit margins ....

This is what is in store if we let the transport and services co-mingle.

What the ILECs and RBOCs want is access to the content providers profit margin. Pure unadulterated greed.

-RJS


" ...Netflix doesn't deliver anything. They're a content provider.

The USPS is the organization that delivers the content. But notice it's a pay-per-packet organization ...."


Stevery 12/5/2012 | 4:06:31 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate So when Netflix deliver DVDs the same way SPs deliver packets

???

Netflix doesn't deliver anything. They're a content provider.

The USPS is the organization that delivers the content. But notice it's a pay-per-packet organization.

Of course, the price that we pay for this service is a number of delivery folk who live on the edge, one or two of whom will "go postal" per year. I don't know how that effects how many 9's of service they're delivering.
mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 4:06:31 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate 1) Obviously, you did not bother to follow the URL on Netflix handle "fair use".

Correct. I didn't bother because the fundamental of delivering (packetised) bandwidth is considerably different to delivery of physical items such as DVDs, so using the Netflix model of handling throughput / QoS isn't a good or comparable example to use.

Here are at least some of the differences :

- Netflix have a maximum total capacity of DVDs in their library at anyone time. If a DVD is lost in delivery, and Neflix want to continue to maintain their library size, they have to spend real money to buy a replacement, directly increasing their costs.

- SPs deliver packets, and while electricity continues to be available, they can deliver endless numbers of them, because their equipment generates them. Further more, packet loss in packet switched networks as assumed, because it isn't ever possible to guarantee 100% delivery. TCP uses this packet loss property of packet switched networks to measure congestion occuring in the network, to measure available network capacity.

- Netflix rents or lends DVDs to their customers, where as SPs 'sell' packets to customers, which the customer then consumes. Customers can't return a packet to an SP after they've used it.

- The units of delivery that Netflix deal with are hugely more valuable than SPs. Netflix probably deliver a maximum of no more than 40 DVDs a month to any particular customer (I'm guessing this figure, I'm sure it is certainly no more than 100 per month), where as SPs deliver in the 10 000, 100 000 or millions of packets per month to customers.

So when Netflix deliver DVDs the same way SPs deliver packets, or when SPs are able to charge per packet like Netflix charges for DVDs, making their methods of operation similar enough, then the models they use to deliver their services to their respective customers might be comparable.
mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 4:06:32 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate An interesting approach of handling QOS from Netflix world where everyone pay the same monthly subscription fee.

While it might appear to be a valid comparison of what carriers need to do if they want to provide QoS and a flat fee, consider the fundamental difference between increasing digital bandwidth and "netflix" bandwidth towards the customer - an increase in the bits per second to the customer, within certain bounds (e.g. a tripling capacity from 512Kbps to 1.5Mbps, 512Kbps to 10Gbps is out of that bound) doesn't increase the delivery costs anywhere near triple, yet for netflix it would, mainly because increased consumption of their product increases physical resource consumption - the space in the mail truck, courier van etc.



mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 4:06:32 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Case in point, cellphones! Everybody knows how dearly it will cost them if they go over their time limit.

Of course, what I think is fundamentally happening is to an extent the cost of network capacity management and performance management is being pushed onto the customer. The customer limits their usage so you don't have to.

This sort of sounds like a good idea, until you think about it from a customer service point of view. Making the customer have to do something that instead they might be willing to pay a bit more to have done for them may not be good 'customer service'.

Why do customers prefer flat rate charging ? Andrew Odlyzko, in his paper, "The history of communications and its implications for the Internet", on page 71, says :

Investigations of
the experiments of the 1970s uncovered three main reasons for the flat rate preference:

(i) Insurance: It provides protection against sudden large bills. (What happens if my son comes
back from college, and starts talking to his girl friend around the clock?)

(ii) Overestimate of usage: Customers typically overestimate how much they use a service, with
the ratio of their estimate to actual usage following a log-normal distribution. (This is a general phenomenon. A recent study found that email users reported receiving about twice as many messages as they actually did [Kanfer].)

(iii) Hassle factor: In a per-use situation, consumers keep worrying whether each call is worth the money it costs, and it has been observed that their usage goes down. A flat-rate plan allows them not to worry as to whether that call to their in-laws is really worth $0.05 per minute.

Of these three reasons, the first appears to be the most important. People are risk averse.


So it seems that customers would be willing to pay an additional premium to make their service consumption simpler. Less is more, simpler is better. Provide better customer service, and you'll end up with more customers. Isn't that the goal of any business ?

So if a carrier moves to flat rate, then the customer will utilise the network more. The carrier will be 'forced' to increase their network capacity.

The great thing about being 'forced' to increase their network capacity is that the more they increase the network capacity, the cheaper it gets. The equipment to facilitate a 10Gbps link doesn't cost 10 times a 1Gbps link costs. The network management costs of a 10Gbps link are not significantly more than a 1Gbps link, if there is an increase at all.

I think the following may be the root issues that have caused these carriers to start wanting to charge more for Qos or charge 'content' providers like Google :

(1) too much bandwidth consumption capability has been sold to the customer, for too little money. Allowing the customer to 'flat rate' use their individual connection, when aggregated across the whole customer base, results in there not being enough upstream network capacity to cope with that load. Even though upgrading network capacity to cope with additional usage should be attractive because it is way cheaper per bit to do so, carriers still don't want to do it. Could it be that they can't afford to, which really means that they've oversold their product to their customers ?

(2) Carriers are probably looking at their profit margins on a per-customer basis, and then decided that those margins aren't high enough, rather than looking at their total profit margin in comparison to their total costs. For a commodity type business, I think this is the incorrect way to judge profit performance. In a commodity type business, you don't discourage consumption of your product by increasing the per unit profit, you want to increase consumption by either decreasing the per unit profit, or by providing some other associated value to the customer that results in increased consumption, such as simplicity in billing.

It's the classic percentage problem. I'd much rather 5% of $100 rather than 10% of $10, because $5 in the pocket is better than $1. If carriers are making this judgment, and deciding that 10% is better than 5% per-customer, regardless of what the percentage is of, then that is at their peril.
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 4:06:32 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Zippy,

1) Obviously, you did not bother to follow the URL on Netflix handle "fair use".

2) Neflix use US Postal Service.

3) Netflix "fair use" model punishes heavy user while rewarding light user with higher priority.

Dreamer
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:06:34 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate
rj,

You are missing my point. rjTV has been invented to broadcast Quark reruns from the 1970s. Knowing that Old Geeks (like me) liked Quark, rjTV tries to figure out how to distribute the content (which it wants 10 cents a view for) across the Internet.

SBC doesn't want rjTVs content. So, what are rjTVs choices? See my last message. And try again.

seven
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:06:35 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Seven,

RJ/TV doesn't have broadcasting rights to quality video. Neither does Google or Yahoo. The phone companies can go after PAX or Univision for QoS fees but they won't pay either. QoS does nothing to solve the financing and infrastructure problems the phone companies face with respect to rewiring the country's access networks.
sgan201 12/5/2012 | 4:06:35 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200...

An interesting approach of handling QOS from Netflix world where everyone pay the same monthly subscription fee.

Dreamer
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:06:37 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate
rj,

I think you misunderstand the debate.

AT&T selling Video over Project Lightspeed will not charge Disney to carry ABC Television. That is because AT&T will get paid by the consumer to hook up to Project Lightspeed. In theory, AT&T will then make revenue and profit from this customer.

The question is now rjmcmahon Internet TV shows up. It does not have access to the QoS mechanisms that SBC used to make its video service. As far as I can tell, rjmcmahon Internet TV (rjTV) now has 3 choices:

1 - Build a non-QoS requiring video service (maybe P2P, maybe Download and play later, whatever)

2 - Build an Access Network to carry rjTV

3 - Get a hookup to AT&Ts QoS mechanisms that it used for Video over LightSpeed.

I don't think there is a choice 4 (extend the LightSpeed QoS mechansims to the Internet) as there is no business reason for SBC to enable this capability.

seven
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:06:37 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate According to a media company exec a la carte video will make the content more expensive to the network providers. (Loss of ad revenue the comes with the bundles has to be made up by the network provider.) So the idea of asking content owners/aggregators to pay carriers for QoS becomes even more far fetched as the price of video content goes up.
OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 4:06:37 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Did anyone notice today that the FCC now endorses ala carte video? That makes the carriers job much easier, just offer the most commercial channels and then use others to supply those with some interest groups.

QoS for each channel!

OldPOTS
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:06:40 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate
rjs,

I was not trying to discuss right, wrong or indifferent.

It is not clear to me that the FCC can change the way the media companies package and sell their products. Given their ideas of allowing larger concentration of content in fewer hands, it is not clear how they would change or regulate content sales.

Good content is a very long term phenomenon. We no longer have the telegram (distribution), but we still have the Mona Lisa, Homer, and Shakespeare. Distribution mechanisms are temporary and designed to be replaced. Content owners have found in the past that distribution networks sometimes fit in their business and other times get regulated out of their hands (see Time-Warner Cable, Movie Theater ownership, Book Publishers).

seven
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 4:06:40 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate This is why iTunes is so successful. Pirating, or something, got so bad that CD sales actually started to decline. This apparently scared the music industry into unbundling the product on the CD. Now, iTunes users can buy the two songs they want for 99 cents, rather than paying $15 for a CD full of fluff. The rest is history...

Perhaps when video pirating gets bad enough, we will get unbundling there too.
rjs 12/5/2012 | 4:06:40 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate brookseven, your point is very well taken.
However, that is due to the fact that the
media companies themselves wield too much monoplistic clout and would like to package things
to get a better value and in this case the cable MSO and Satellite companies are the clients being victimized.

Two wrongs do not make a right!

My firm belief is that if the infrastructure for
competition exists, the content providers will prevail and go directly to consumer. This is already happening (albeit, slowly) ... look at the
number of small and independent record labels that have sprouted in the past 10 years.

-RJS


" ...They generally require the cable companies to buy and broadcast certain channels in order to be able to broadcast others. The packages are not just the cable companies doing. "
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:06:41 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate
The whole a la carte thing is going to crash at the content owners doorstep.

They generally require the cable companies to buy and broadcast certain channels in order to be able to broadcast others. The packages are not just the cable companies doing.

seven
rjs 12/5/2012 | 4:06:42 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Precisely the very point I am trying to make.
I hate the fact that I have to subscribe to 200 channels on my cable/satellite and pay the transport middleman a flat rate of $65 a month when I truly only watch about 10 channels.
I really wouldn't mind paying a reasonable 'a la carte'rate for these unbundled popular channels
directly to the content maker, say a CNN online subscription for 2 dollars a month without the middleman.

This bundling happens when transport and services get mixed up. It is quite simply a method of extortion in business (and all you marketing and sales folks know that! I don't want any flames on that.)

Ironically, this inspite of it not being a clear monopoly (satellite and cable and Netflix etc).
Imagine if this were a clear cut monopoly. If there is one company who owns the fiber coming into your home (by "fiber" I mean anything more than 10 Mbps uplink AND downlink) you can rest assured that your goose is cooked.

-RJS


"
DH44 wrote:
... So where do you see satellite and cable companies fitting into the arguments you just made? Aren't they providing transport and content. Aren't they competitors to the RBOCs and ILECs for consumer video? "
dh44 12/5/2012 | 4:06:43 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate RJS,

So where do you see satellite and cable companies fitting into the arguments you just made? Aren't they providing transport and content. Aren't they competitors to the RBOCs and ILECs for consumer video?

Darrell
rjs 12/5/2012 | 4:06:43 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate DH44:

The QoS Implications and all the detailed discussions are just agruing about "how many angels on a pin head" They are all RED HERRINGS.

The issue at hand is to prevent a transport monopoly. One needs to keep the focus on that. The
rest of the discussions are really not germaine to the discussion at hand.

If the RBOCs and ILECs could be trusted, it would be different matter. These QoS discussions would be very helpful in that case. But they CANNOT BE trusted. Unless, their power is curtailed through some checks and balances, this is setting a precedent that we will regret.

I repeat, ad nauseum, TRANSPORT AND SERVICES SHOULD BE KEPT SEPARATE. No two ways about this. Period.

I believe that the closest analogy to this is the separation of Church and State by the US Constitution. It is good thing, do not screw around with it.


Now you can proceed talking about QoS ... and how it could be implemented with a benevolent RBOC ...
and other fairy tales.

-RJS
dh44 12/5/2012 | 4:06:44 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Seems like everyone on this thread has fallen into the trap of arguing in the extreme - most are saying we must either keep the internet totally net neutral or give QOS to the service providers. For all of the reasons that both sides are pointing out, neither extreme is desirable going forward.

With today's Traffic Engineering tools, network bandwidth can be readily differentiated and reserved based on many types of service. It's important to recognize that Best Effort (net neutral) traffic is just another class of service that can have reserved bandwidth. If telcos are mandated to reserve an appropriate minimum percentage of bandwidth for Best Effort traffic and have the rest available for premium QOS services, isn't this a reasonable compromise?



unlimited 12/5/2012 | 4:06:44 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Mark,

Yup, sophisticated packet inspection can be done. I think that's why the pro Internet camp have to get their own access. The debate will not be resolved to a mutually acceptable solution.
unlimited 12/5/2012 | 4:06:44 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Essentially the Internet is a horizontal industry of specialists much like the PC industry. In that structure the facilities providers are important but that role is not attractive to the RBOCs. Vertical integration can only happen at the cost of slowed industry pace. That's good for the RBOCs but not for almost anybody else outside of their immediate business partners.

One reason Google has to reject paying access providers is because it makes no sense in the horizontal economy. Content providers are customers of Internet transit providers that serve lots of businesses and smaller service providers. These Internet providers then Interconnect through a hierarchy of other providers to exchange their respective customers traffic. Relationships between the providers are mostly customer to provider which is subject to commercial pricing. At the highest levels there can be true peering where traffic is exchanged with cost sharing for just the interconnect costs. Whereas there was a lot of peering years ago it has been gradually replaced with commercial relationships. So when Google pays for connectivity, they are paying for carriage under commercial terms and the money flows along the chain. Actually in Google's case they are probably doing more and more transit themselves.

So the RBOCs Internet access networks are actually customer networks of transit providers just like Google. Google and the RBOCs need to pay their upstream providers to reach all the networks of the Internet. There are currently over 21,000 autonomous systems in the Internet. Which of those entities should you have a direct business agreement with? If you have a special arrangement with a handful of them why not the rest? Or perhaps you just stop talking to them. Does Google need the RBOCs or the other way round? A 43 petabit link without a return connection is really not that valuable! Perhaps Google will be nice and cut the RBOCs a nice deal to allow their customers to reach their servers.
telco1158 12/5/2012 | 4:06:45 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate I think the "virus" that Stephen was illustrating was not the traditional virus that infects a system, but more of a bot to artificially drive up throughput on a user's network and thus increase costs. Something similiar to a DoS attack. There does exist something remotely akin to the hypothetical bandwidth fraud... Click Fraud, which affects the cost and payment of Internet advertising. Besides other factors, the cost of running an ad depends on the number of clicks the ad gets. Click fraud uses bots to artificially drive up the cost of a competitor's ad, or stuff the pockets of the advertising site. The reality of click fraud is debatable, but its been said to be the kink in Goog's armor.
unlimited 12/5/2012 | 4:06:45 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate According to the Telco's if Net Neutrality is mandated they will not invest to develop broadband access.

If Telco's can manage and differentiate the content on their broadband access networks then the content/services providers of the Internet will be hurt.

Either way Internet service will be damaged in some way. Thus the outcome is not that important. It means the next step is to focus on alternative broadband access infrastructure.
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 4:06:45 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Oh and the carriers CAN differentiate between traffic types. Please see article "Stoke Stokes 'Net Neutrality' Flames." Very interesting information on the tools carriers will use to impose tiered service levels for content pushers.
opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 4:06:46 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate I don't think that viruses would cost consumers with QoS becaus I don't think that that is how QoS will get sold.

Right now if I buy DSL from SBC, I can pay for a 1.5Mb/sec peak limit or a 3.0Mb/sec peak limit. Both are best effort, so in congested times they both may give the same rate--or SBC may give a slightly higher QoS to the 3.0Mb/sec links because the consumer is paying more. There's no extra cost if the consumer's virus ties up the line. There are some mobile broadband systems that charge like this but I don't know of any DSL offerings like this.

Another way of doing QoS is for certain services like IPTV or VOIP. For this, the CO would would recognize and control the traffic to your home. I suppose a virus could disguise itself as VOIP traffic, but there is nothing stopping a virus from doing that today and start making VOIP calls to Scotland from your PC.
stephencooke 12/5/2012 | 4:06:47 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Hi Tera,

Yes, there is nothing new under the sun! Large corporations will likely be more vigilant than smaller corporations and consumers. How many viruses limit their targets to large corporations do you think? I have no idea but I haven't heard of any, but we have all heard about lots of viruses.

You, tera, the consumer, may choose to pay for QoS from your provider to get streaming video or crystal clear VoIP service. You agree to pay for the amount that you feel you will use. Your carrier doesn't want to limit you to that so they give you a deal on what you think you will use but they put in what it will cost you when you exceed that amount (which is probably much higher in cost). Can you see it yet...? Your computer gets a virus that generates huge amounts of premium-level traffic putting you far beyond your self-imposed limits and you owe the carrier big bucks.

The point is that anyone with a broadband connection is now just as likely to be targetted in a scam such as this as a large corporation was for trunk hijacking in years past. As a consumer do you have the resources (ie: someone whose job it is to monitor and deal with these things) as a large corporation? Do you have the clout with a carrier to get around these things if/when they occur? Not likely, to both questions.

Steve.
jmunn 12/5/2012 | 4:06:47 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate I think Google looked at what happened to the CLECs having to pay the ILECs for "better access" and saw that the CLECs had no control of the pricing. The ILECs raised the costs to the CLECs and shut them down.

If Google started paying X for QoS now, which might still be a good business model, there is nothing to stop the service provider from charging 10X for that same QoS later, probably not a sustainable model.

Remember the Past or Repeat It!
opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 4:06:47 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Steve wrote:
"When things cost money...people will find ways to write viruses to use high-priced bandwidth that will leave unsuspecting consumers with nasty bills."

Hasn't that always been the case? There's nothing new here. I'm not an expert at PSTN, but I found a site that describes the same thing being done on T1 trunks:
http://www.celticrover.com/bgt...

So if companies start routing their traffic over IP rather than over switched T1 lines, they'll have exactly the same threat of someone trying to steal that pipe.

optodoofus 12/5/2012 | 4:06:48 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Secret Squirrel,

I think you are looking at this issue all wrong. The issue here is that the ILECs and cable companies have (essentailly) monopoly power over the access infrastructure in this country. If they can institute pay-for-QOS, then they can use this to provide an advantage to their own services. So, suppose they developed their own search engine (fat chance of that, but let's pretend they can innovate). They can easily make sure that their search service gets great QOS at no additional cost to themselves. However, anyone who wants to go to Google will get poorer service - unless Google and/or the end user pay up. The economic impact of this will be to stifle competition and hence innovation on the Internet.

I would be all for IP QOS services as long as the ILECs and cable companies would agree to structural separation. Break the services piece of the ILEC/cable business out, and make the paying field level. This is essentially what the local loop unbundling process has done in Europe, and the amount of investment, competition and innovation this has spurred is amazing. But here we sit - with no competition and little hope of seeing any anytime soon. Allowing the ILECs and cable companies to tighten their monpoly positions by forcing Internet applications to pony up for QOS if they want to compete will just make the situation that much worse.

optodoofus
Chicknbut 12/5/2012 | 4:06:48 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Way to go Ted. Sure, SONET pipes carrying IP is sort of like oil pipelines,but pure IP networks are sort of, like, different.

It's time some telecom savvy individuals run the FCC rather than sycophants, puppets and thirty-something booty kissers. While telecom policy may have been original based on railroad regualtion, the current model doesn't fit.

The RBOCs et al are pissed because they can't get at the real money at play here, that of content. Pipes, like the big and little iron that faciliates them, are a commodity. The money is in the content. While this has something to do with the Googles and Vonages of the world, I bet it has more to do with the Sonys and the Viacoms. The big cable players want to be able to transition their content to a different pipe without a loss of their insipid, monopolistic pricing, while BT (Big Telco) wants to make their own deals directly with content providers.

If Google beats them to it, the RBOC can't pay the salaries of the 2000 VP's and Sr VP's that work in their beautiful headquarters.

wrobeljas 12/5/2012 | 4:06:49 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Basically, right now I am paying for my broadband, and I am free to choose any service provider I want (including VoIP "parasites").

In the world from the telecom companies dream, I am offered good service only from the ones who paid my provider. My choice is limited. And may this QoS contracts be exclusive ?? (Vonage paying Verizon for QoS, and for not providing QoS to competitors...)

This is what already happened in game consoles world (games exclusive for one platform), is enforced in music industry (play songs from iTunes only on iPod) and right now is extended to the Internet-alike services world.

Sad but partially inevitable.
stephencooke 12/5/2012 | 4:06:51 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate RJS,

"If I know that I will pay a hefty penalty for going over my limit, whether it is Mb/s download/upload or the max bytes transfered,
I - the end user will self-monitor."

The point that I was trying to make is that, when computers are involved, viruses and worms can be involved which nullifies, or at least makes it extremely difficult, for you to self-monitor. Spambots send out thousands of emails per host (bot) to all sorts of unsuspecting recipients. What if those bots set their traffic priority to be high? As there is likely to be a smaller traffic limit on high priority traffic that will cost extra, could it cause the consumer to incur additional penalties? A poor example but it illustrates the point.

Steve.
stephencooke 12/5/2012 | 4:06:52 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate dh44,

Perhaps I didn't explain myself well...

This has virtually nothing to do with technology or network provisioning. This has to do with applications (including viruses & worms, etc.) communicating on the Internet via high priority traffic levels (ie: they cost extra money on a per packet basis).

When things cost money (ie: not a single monthly fee like all-you-can-eat DSL but extra charges like long distance on your phone) people will find ways to write viruses to use high-priced bandwidth that will leave unsuspecting consumers with nasty bills. Similarly, employers will choose to limit the extra charges that they have to pay for anything that does not go parcel post (ie: best effort). If employees use an application that sets the traffic priority to high then the company will have extra charges depending on their contracts. If this is a personal exploit there may be firings involved.

If it is the applications that set their relative traffic priority level, in corporations at least, there will have to be accounting justification for these extra charges, if any. etc.

There is an enormous can of worms that will be opened with implementation of QoS. It is similar to a recent quote in the Times that someone said the P2P movement was entirely founded on a premise that turned out to be illegal. The similarity is that everyone's attitudes towards the Internet were founded on essentially free traffic bandwidth. QoS will change that in a big way.

Steve.
rjs 12/5/2012 | 4:06:52 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate This thing about QoS and billing is like
reinventing the wheel. It is a RED HERRING being thrown by ILECs.

The ILECs and RBOCs are making an issue out of
something that is currently handled in a third world country like India.

Simple ... bill the way the Electric (and gas) utilities have done for the past 120 years. On peak power and total energy (KW-Hr). For broadband it translates into Mb/S and GBytes. This will naturarlly make internet paid for.
And monitoring these two metrics and billing for it is something mundane. As an example, currently, I have a maximum upload speed of 385 Kbps capped by the provider and unlimited Bytes.

If I know that I will pay a hefty penalty for
going over my limit, whether it is Mb/s download/upload or the max bytes transfered,
I - the end user will self-monitor. Case in point, cellphones! Everybody knows how dearly it will cost them if they go over their time limit. I don't see cell phone companies complaining and whining like the RBOCs and ILECs. Ironic since most cellphone companies are majority owned by the RBOCs. The cellphone companies in GSM world are doing quite well providing the basic transport services.

There is no need to get rid of net neutrality just because a few badly run companies feel they are entitled to more profits to hide their inefficiencies.

-RJS


dh44 12/5/2012 | 4:06:52 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Why not have a QOS-based network with the lowest priority being Best Effort? As a compromise, why can't new government regulations require service providers to "reserve" a certain percentage of their network bandwidth to always be available for Best Effort. The remaining network BW could be allocated to higher QOS flows as SPs see fit.

Since most of QOS-based bandwidth will be consumed by IPTV in the near future, the portion reserved for Best Effort traffic should be relatively small. New regulations may need to require different scales of Best Effort bandwidth reservation depending on what part or type of network is being allocated.

Darrell
mr zippy 12/5/2012 | 4:06:53 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate IP is non deterministic = bad for latency sensitive apps such as streaming voice/video.

I think the large number of VoIP and Video calls that have been going on over the Internet over the the last few years contradict that. QoS is pretty easy to achieve - all you need to do is ensure that applications have a level of buffering to smooth out jitter, have the application codecs adjust to the varying levels congestion, and ensure that IP packets are delivered just before they're needed.

I suggest Christian Huitema's chapter on QoS in his book "Routing In the Internet", which discusses why reserved bandwidth and virtual circuits aren't needed.

stephencooke 12/5/2012 | 4:06:54 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Hi,

Has anyone realized yet the implications for hackers and virus-writers in the world if QoS is implemented...?

1. The courts will be stifled by lawsuits of ordinary people whose computer(s) were used by a hacker to send high QoS data somewhere ('where' is actually irrelevant to the amount charged under most QoS models).

2. People will use the Internet less due to such charges or the fear that such things might happen to them.

3. People will require ISPs to limit their QoS traffic and hence their bill.

4. And many others...

Consider as well the impact of employees at any company who use any bandwidth whatsoever...

A follow on to this are the accounting rules that will need to be used to track this kind of usage and the audit procedures, etc. (think levels of authorization to use xGB of priority A traffic in a month, yGB of B traffic, etc. per employee) I think you can see that employee use of the Internet may be cut off completely unless it can be justified, etc. Consider the case of an employee who uses a little bandwidth for personal reasons...

I think you can see where this can potentially lead. QoS is an issue not to be taken lightly and it extends far beyond carrier profits and service offerings.

Steve.
stephencooke 12/5/2012 | 4:06:54 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Seven,

"1 - Bill per QoS as you say and then on a per packet basis charge for this QoS. This way they can send vanilla packets and premium packets using the same connection. This seems highly unlikely.

2 - Build services that never require anything other than Best Effort. This allows the current paradigm to stay in place.

3 - Bypass the Internet either with their own networks (like Google's WiFi network) or by creating special arrangements with Broadband Access Network Providers."

The only one that actually makes sense is your #1. #2 is being used for voice and video in real time but their performance isn't what it could be.

#3 would require Google, et. al. to build their own worldwide networks (not going to happen) and, where they connect to other carriers, have QoS enabled on those segments (including the last mile) to provide those service levels. The point being that they will still need QoS implemented according to your #1 to guarantee service.

Here is the real issue: If even one network segment along the path is QoS-enabled, the traffic will be affected. If even one network segment is not QoS-enabled along the path the overall quality cannot be guaranteed end-to-end.

The obvious scenario here is that RBOCs will provide premium traffic end-to-end on their networks, including the last mile, and will not guarantee anything that does not begin and end on their network. Sounds like Skype-to-Skype-type service offerings are on the way once again.

Steve.
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 4:06:55 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate We could all just relax if service providers were treated like an electric utility. They would be "fairly" (easier said than done) compensated for their bandwidth efforts. Period.

Let services be generated on the ends by people who know what they are doing. Who thinks telecom execs are any good at innovation? I for one have zero interest in paying up for lousy "services" that are tied to a subsidized, monopoly, pipe. GOOG has the potential to alter our economy by driving high efficiencies in the sales process. The liklihood that a telco would come up with anything half so innovative and useful is about the same as those monkeys banging on keyboards coming up with Shakespeare.

The unimaginative telco execs who in reality are scared as they see bandwidth prices fall below their (high) costs are running to Mama. Adding services is their unimaginative way to recreate the past by tying their "service" (once voice and now video or something) back to their wires. Face it, the slash in TCP/IP has changed their lives. Services on the end and a big dumb (and paid for) pipe in the middle. This fuels innovation, which is the only competitive advantage left in the U.S.
krbabu 12/5/2012 | 4:06:56 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate Seven:
> Requiring QoS support without billing will lead to
> all packets requesting the highest QoS. And that
> will lead us back to Best Effort.

You are right on the money. This is why I felt baffled by Google's stance. Also, note that IP/VPN and Ethernet VPLS over an IP/MPLS backbone already produce a better IP network, and businesses are willingly paying for it.

So what is Google's issue? Why can't they offer their services over such a VPN or VPLS? It all comes back to the business model. As it is, they are able monetize only a fraction of the eyeballs that visit Google and related sites through the ad mechanism and still create astronomical profits. When Google (or Vonage or any other similar service provider) pays for a VPN or VPLS, they will correspondingly reduce their gross margins, but they wil probably also attract more eyeballs: because they can provide better service. Thus, Googles and their ilk must be constantly honing their business models and not complain about having to pay for better QoS.
-
krbabu
paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:06:57 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate
krbabu,

Google, Vonage and other Internet sites do not pay for carriers for their Internet usage except for the Bit Pipe that connects their sites to the Internet.

There are 3 choices:

1 - Bill per QoS as you say and then on a per packet basis charge for this QoS. This way they can send vanilla packets and premium packets using the same connection. This seems highly unlikely.

2 - Build services that never require anything other than Best Effort. This allows the current paradigm to stay in place.

3 - Bypass the Internet either with their own networks (like Google's WiFi network) or by creating special arrangements with Broadband Access Network Providers.

I do not see a fourth choice but would be really happy to hear about it. Requiring QoS support without billing will lead to all packets requesting the highest QoS. And that will lead us back to Best Effort.

seven
krbabu 12/5/2012 | 4:06:57 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate It is somewhat enigmatic to see that Google is in opposition to paying for a better QoS over the Internet. Net Neutrality to me implies that all users of the Internet who want a better QoS will be on a neutral, level, field. Thus, Google, Vonage, et al., would all have a level playing field because carriers would insist that they all pay the same fee for the same QoS. (The regulations would make it illegal on the part of the carriers to be preferential to some but not the others for the same QoS). Otherwise, what incentive do the carriers have to upgrade their network to provide better QoS?
The home broadband user, of course, will most likely choose to keep a vanilla Internet connection, i.e., the all-you-can-eat, no-guarantee, fixed monthly fee connection.
Thus, it seems wrong to insist that carriers treat all users equally.
secretsquirrel 12/5/2012 | 4:06:58 AM
re: Cerf's Up for Neutrality Debate IP is non deterministic = bad for latency sensitive apps such as streaming voice/video.

RBOC/MSO View: invest and deploy technology to offer a better connection for those who wish to pay for it. Take it or leave it.

ISP View: This is IP - nothing we can do - only thing we control is how the packets cross our network. Besides you are really only paying for best efforts service and a flat fee to boot - why are you complaining.

App Providers: HEY for 10 years we have using ISP's and RBOC/MSO networks esentially for FREE - you mean to tell me that if I want something IP does not offer I now have to voluntarily PAY. What a rip. I know - lets make this into an 'Equal Access' 'Competitive' thing and hinge it all on PATRIOTISM effectivly obsuring the issues - get Congress and the FCC who know nothing about IP and BETTER YET the State PSCs who know less than nothing because they think they know something to make a set of LAWS and hose the whole thing up AGAIN.

The Squirrel.
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