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August 05, 2010

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FWIW, Google and Verizion both deny it but we'll see if it's a real denial, or a a non-denial denial soon.

Of course, a free market means big companies are free to keep their opponents from being able to even get into business, right? (Just look at the demise of independent DSL companies at the hands of the local phone monopolies, despite the required equal access to the lines, which was never ever enforced.)

Many enhanced interrogation purists believe that a system that includes a sort of toll lane for faster interrogation of obviously guilty terrorists violates the long-held tenet of the rule of law.

I wouldn't have much of a problem with faster and slower lanes at the user end - not that we don't already have that, sort of. But the different speeds that are available at different prices aren't vastly different, and it doesn't really matter how many bits you download or upload once you've paid for whatever connection speed you're supposed to be getting.

I mostly go on blogs, mostly this one, sending and receiving text. Sometimes I'll have Pandora up with some audio. But I'm not receiving nearly the number of bits I would if I were downloading big video files or involved with certain kinds of gaming.

I don't see why the telecom companies can't make their money by charging higher-volume users more regardless of content. That seems to not-entirely-well-informed me as something that wouldn't destroy the "democratic" nature of the internet, but would give the ISPs a way to charge more.

And I wouldn't have a problem with the telecoms charging ISPs based on bandwidth used (if they don't do it that way already) so long as it was content-neutral.

I assume content providers already have to pay for a given size pipe to get content out, or for the amount of data sent, which would mirror the user end. So long as the traffic doesn't get some sort of priority once it's out, I don't see a problem with that either.

What problem is it that ISPs, telecoms and content providers are having that needs to be solved and justifies, in all likelihood, effing up the internet?

"What problem is it that ISPs, telecoms and content providers are having that needs to be solved and justifies, in all likelihood, effing up the internet?"

Peer to peer non standard protocols that take all available bandwidth and require the equivalent of a static connection is tops on the list.

I believe it would be that classic problem "I would like to do that thing those two other people over there are doing with each but I can't find anyone who will do it with me because of my own personal shortcomings".

Count the billions of dollars wasted on internet provider sites or joint ventures. They desperately want a piece of the "content" (AKA everything on the internet) pie. It's a bit like the phone company deciding to extort every business in the country for a share of their profits or forbid their use of the network. No, wait, it's exactly like that.

Marty: Peer to peer non standard protocols that take all available bandwidth

"Peer to peer non standard protocols" barely means anything, and to the extent it does, it doesn't mean anything bad.

"Peer to peer" is how the internet works. Period.

"Non standard" - firstly, P2P protocols use TCP/IP in completely legal, standard, legitimate ways, establishing channels and transmitting data at the maximum rates available, which is a perfectly normal practice and exactly the same thing that happens when you download a video or upload a photo.

Secondly, to the extent that the implementation is not the same as existing Internet protocols, that's how new protocols and technologies get created. The nice thing about the internet is that as long as you follow the basic rules, you don't have to ask anyone's permission.

And as for taking all available bandwidth, the solution to that is simple: content-/destination-blind bandwidth caps, tiered monthly transfer allowances, and so on. None of those are considered a problem. But then none of them offers the opportunity for extortion and cartelization that prioritized access does, which is why the telcos aren't satisfied with them even though they work perfectly well.

The problem with net neutrality is that an upstart with a good idea can disrupt the "orderly market" (rent seeking) that large players seek to establish amd maintain.

Large companies despise innovation and do their best to nip it in the bud. In the chip-design CAD software world (the tools I use every day), any startup that shows signs of gaining a foothold is promptly bought by one of the three hegemonic market leaders and often the innovative product is quietly taken off the market.

Joel Hanes nails it.

Google has been one of the largest names pressing for net neutrality, and to hear that it was in secret negotiations with Verizon to overturn it doesn't quite fit together.

Google is a very large company. It would be extraordinary to hear of Google behaving in any way different to other large companies - no matter how nice it is to its employees.

I like my chocolate straight up, please, with no adulterants.

Why gild the lily?

But maybe that's just me.

"Google has been one of the largest names pressing for net neutrality, and to hear that it was in secret negotiations with Verizon to overturn it doesn't quite fit together."

I think it's perfectly in line with Google's official slogan: "Don't be evil unless it's profitable."

"But the different speeds that are available at different prices aren't vastly different, and it doesn't really matter how many bits you download or upload once you've paid for whatever connection speed you're supposed to be getting."

The last ISP I had, had an official policy of cutting you off if you used too many bits over the course of a month. It was right there in the contract, in bold letters, they didn't hide it. Where "too many bits" was both enormously less than the product of your bitrate times the number of seconds in a month, AND deliberately left unspecified. Playing a movie online was like playing Russian roulette, only with service contract terminations instead of bullets. I think the idea was that they could kill your service if you hosted a website, instead of using their for pay hosting service.

So, yeah, it often does matter in the real world.

I like my chocolate straight up, please, with no adulterants

I think chocolate should be banned from marriage.

(Just to round off the mixing of threads.)

Hmm. I can't imagine whether chocolate should be constrained from marrying the same color chocolate, or other-colored chocolate. Probably depends on whether one imagines color as mapping onto gender or race.

And of course there's the all-important is white chocolate really chocolate at all? question. I say: no. Chocolate must have some actual cacao in it, and if you don't agree with me, you are destroying this country.

I am just about 100% for wanting to say "What Russell said" every time he posts a word on this blog. But now we're getting into the really important stuff.

From childhood I have never understood the point of a banana split. Chocolate-dipped strawberries are tolerable as a way to get the (dark, please) chocolate to my mouth, but chocolate-covered cherries are an abomination.

When I buy mint juleps for my daughter at Wilbur's of Maine in Freeport, I make them put the mints in a separate bag so the god-awfulness of the flavor of minted chocolate doesn't contaminate my pure delight.

Oh, wait, what's in my bag is dark chocolate caramels. Or maybe a dark chocolate pecan turtle.

Is that cheating?

So, yeah, it often does matter in the real world.

I don't know that you've established "often," but either way, that's fine with me so long as it's content-neutral (and source-destination neutral). Jacob Davies | August 05, 2010 at 11:48 PM expresses a more informed version of what I was trying to get at.

From childhood I have never understood the point of a banana split

now i'm going to be craving a Jim Dandy all weekend. and there isn't a Friendly's anywhere near me.

but chocolate-covered cherries are an abomination.

Infidel!

Chocolate must have some actual cacao in it, and if you don't agree with me, you are destroying this country.

Because I get to say it so rarely, I didn't want to let the chance go by: "What Slarti said." :)

"Peer to peer" is how the internet works. Period."

Oh well, but instead of us recreating this discussion, here is a discussion between Bram Cohen and Mark Cuban (the link to his original post is worth it) and a whole bunch of people that at least provides the basics.

Jacob: I believe it would be that classic problem "I would like to do that thing those two other people over there are doing with each [other] but I can't find anyone who will do it with me because of my own personal shortcomings"

Wait, are we talking about telecom business strategy, or porn?

Hmm... maybe there ought to be a rule that all writing about Internet policy should use porn metaphors. It would certainly make Wired a lot more interesting.

Joel Hanes nails it.

Yes. And he illustrates what I think is a wider problem with the idea of the "free market."

The efficiencies that markets can realize, according to ideal economic models, occur because of open competition, freely moving prices, perfect information and a bunch of other stuff I either forgot, never knew, or just don't feel like typing. That often gets lost in the discussion of free markets.

What many people mean by a free market is one that is unfettered by government interference (i.e. unregulated). But that isn't necessarily what the "free" in "free market" means.

Governments certainly can distort markets and make them less efficient (sometimes for good reason, depending on the market). But sometimes governments can regulate markets in ways that make the markets more free than they would be if left to the desires of the private industry. See Standard Oil.

Mandating net neutrality would preserve the free market that is the internet, IMO. Leaving it to the Verizons and, as it looks now, Googles of the world to decide how that market will work will result in it being far less free than it has been so far. I've yet to see a credible argument otherwise.

The fundamental problem with Net Unneutrality (preferential treatment for certain content) is this:

A content company is allowed to pay an Internet Service Provider to adulterate the internet connection that I pay for to the benefit of that content company. By giving preference to my neighbor's YouTube videos, my access to the material that I want is constricted or delayed.

That discourages ISPs from improving their networks and encourages them to extort content providers instead.

That discourages ISPs from improving their networks and encourages them to extort content providers instead.

Generalizing it: That discourages creating value and encourages rent seeking (HT Joel Hanes).

Sucks, huh?

Peer to peer non standard protocols that take all available bandwidth and require the equivalent of a static connection is tops on the list.

Marty, would you mind responding to Jacob's point that this problem is easily solved with content-neutral throttling policies?

Yeah, which was, like, the whole point of my comment, to which Marty was responding when he wrote that.

Let me rephrase: given that it is much easier and cheaper to deal with bandwidth hogging users by imposing bandwidth caps, why exactly should we insist on killing network neutrality in order to deal with bandwidth hogging users? That's the part that I don't get which I'm hoping Marty can explain.

"Marty, would you mind responding to Jacob's point that this problem is easily solved with content-neutral throttling policies?"

Well I did, my last comment pointed to a link where that and any number of issues were discussed, but.....peer to peer is NOT "how the internet works, period" and content buried in nonstandard protocols is throttled by throttling the protocol, which, in the case of Bit Torrent,for example, creates delays effecting the quality of the content. That creates user dissatisfaction with the last milers who have to react to nonstandard traffic someway, throttling everyone to protect bandwidth or the specific protocols to protect the masses.

It is NOT a simple matter of those guys trying to cut costs and charge for "content".

Marty: It's not just a matter of dealing with BitTorrent. The idea is the phone/cable companies will charge extra to certain companies to give them "preferred" service, with faster routing and bandwidth.

And what will happen if we do that is exactly what happened to independent DSL providers in the 90s. They died, because once the phone companies started offering their own DSL, then the guaranteed open access to the phone networks wasn't. Strangely enough, the independent DSL companies kept having connection problems, or their service from the phone company go down for several days, while the phone company's own DSL worked fine that same time. And strangely enough, their service speeds kept getting affected by "noise" on the phone lines, which didn't seem to affect the phone companies' own DSL.

In other words, it sets the network companies up as gatekeepers, who approve what content can get through, and allows them to extract rents from any content server on the internet, which is why companies like Google have previously been dead set against it. It fundamentally changes the nature of the internet, where any packet of data has always been treated the same, and it allows large companies to exert even more influence and penalize competitors.

Marty, again, would you mind answering this very simple question:

Let me rephrase: given that it is much easier and cheaper to deal with bandwidth hogging users by imposing bandwidth caps, why exactly should we insist on killing network neutrality in order to deal with bandwidth hogging users? That's the part that I don't get which I'm hoping Marty can explain.

As an engineer who actually understands data networks, I don't really find the internet spewings of a business guy like Mark Cuban to be persuasive. Especially when he gets technical details wrong in the very first post. Mark Cuban and Bram Cohen aren't on this thread. You are.

If Mark Cuban was on the thread, he'd make hash of the posting rules.

The efficiencies that markets can realize, according to ideal economic models, occur because of open competition, freely moving prices, perfect information and a bunch of other stuff I either forgot, never knew, or just don't feel like typing. That often gets lost in the discussion of free markets.

What many people mean by a free market is one that is unfettered by government interference (i.e. unregulated). But that isn't necessarily what the "free" in "free market" means.

Governments certainly can distort markets and make them less efficient (sometimes for good reason, depending on the market). But sometimes governments can regulate markets in ways that make the markets more free than they would be if left to the desires of the private industry.

Just wanted to say, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

I'm bronzing this, if you don't mind.

Thank you.

And oh yeah, *what slarti said* at 8:00.

I should cop to having been discussing charging more for data volume/bandwidth usage than throttling or capping. So my point wasn't exactly the same as Jacob's. But, either way, the point is being content- and source/destination-neutral about the management of or pricing for network usage, which appears to be an entirely realistic approach.

So I refudiate assmergions that content-based network management is necessimanded.

Please insert "rather" between "usage" and "than."

Thank you, russell, for making me feel special.

Marty, you have a lot of techies here. When you say things like this--

peer to peer is NOT "how the internet works, period" and content buried in nonstandard protocols is throttled by throttling the protocol

--they will simply decide you don't know what you're talking about, because you don't. You're making two really big mistakes here:

(1) Thinking "peer to peer" refers only to file-sharing systems like BitTorrent, when it's really a broader technical concept without which, as Jacob said, there would not be an Internet.

(2) Making a meaningless distinction between "content buried in nonstandard protocols" and other content. From the ISP's point of view, unless they are actually trying to censor content (regardless of bandwidth usage), the protocol is IP-- period. That's how everything is carried. A packet is a packet, and there is absolutely no need to inspect the packets if you're just throttling someone's DSL usage. You're saying, in effect, "The Post Office can't limit the total weight of letters that it puts in a truck, unless it can open them all up, because there might be something heavy buried inside a nonstandard envelope."

Turb, (and Nate),

What is being discussed is exactly like the phone companies differentiation between users who use their network for various activities. It is not a technical issue in the sense of throttling network usage by content type, it is an issue of proivding the fastest, consistent service across the vast majority of the user base.

Phone companies charged more for business lines because they typically used more bandwidth. Now the last milers charge more for "unlimited" bandwidth for the same reason. At Tier 1 this is not and should not be a problem.

The problem with independent DSL providers was their complete lack of leverage trying to take advantage of the network companies massive capital expenditures(yes, some of it subsidized in rural areas etc.), making none of their own, and trying to negotiate service level agreements that would make them "look like" a real phone company.

Whoever thought up a business model that says "we can insert ourselves between a company that has a very efficient customer delivery system and their customers,add our overhead, charge less and still make money" was selling bridges anyway. The only way that would work is if they had outsourced all that support from the network companies to create a dual dependency.

Vonage and Skype are the exact corollaries to these companies, and they won't work if you throttle bandwidth content-neutrally so they, along with BT, are built on protocols that bypass throttling at the IP level. So they have to be throttled specifically.

One of the most telling statements I read somewhere in the article I linked to was that the last milers are not the least upset when they lose a customer because of limiting bandwidth, the high usage user now becomes someone elses problem.

And while you may not care for Mark Cuban, that discussion was in 2007 and is a very good summary of the business issues that are being talked about today.

The idea of net neutrality as a right completely misses the point that these companies made massive investments to play in the market during the boom years and were the ones that made the right bet. But they did it to make a profit like every other business. None have a monopoly and all have to deal with issues in one way or another.

"A packet is a packet, and there is absolutely no need to inspect the packets if you're just throttling someone's DSL usage."

While I am no longer a day to day engineer, a packet is not a packet when using BT, I would defer to the excellent technical discussion on this that occurred in the last net neutrality thread.

Marty: BitTorrent has nothing to do with this discussion.

From the fine article:

The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers.

Google (for example) wants to be able to pay Verizon (for example) to give favorable service to YouTube (for example) packets.

This favoritism affects all other traffic on all protocols (e.g. email, http, bittorrent, and IRC) because my neighbor's interaction with YouTube will be favored over my interaction with, for example, Hulu. When the ISP needs to drop packets, it will drop my Hulu packets before my neighbor's YouTube packets.

That allows the ISP to extort Hulu, Netflix, etc... to pay for the same preferential service and since that ability to offer preferential service is only meaningful when bandwidth is scarce, it discourages them from building out capacity.

Ars did an actual article on ISP economics recently, which is far more informative than Mark Cuban's imaginings.

None have a monopoly

Only one wire on my block.

"What is being discussed is exactly like the phone companies differentiation between users who use their network for various activities. It is not a technical issue in the sense of throttling network usage by content type, it is an issue of proivding the fastest, consistent service across the vast majority of the user base."

No, it's not. It's about differentiating between different content servers. It would be like the phone company giving you a great connection to anyone on their network, and decent ones to anybody who pays them, and then crappy, staticy connections any time you call someone on a network that hasn't paid them. It has nothing to do with end user bit use, the marginal costs of bandwidth are damn near zero. It's about making tiers of service, and "extracting value" from any company that wants to have their content carried at a decent level of service.

Nate: A better phone company analogy would be if Dominos Pizza paid the phone company for preferred network access. When the exchange is busy, calls to Dominos Pizza would be connected in preference to other calls. To really complete the analogy, the exchange would disconnect other calls in order to free up capacity for calls to Dominos.

Ever hear of the Strowger switch?

According to legend, Almon Strowger, (an undertaker) was motivated to invent an automatic telephone exchange after having difficulties with the local telephone operators, where the wife of a competitor was one of them. He was said to be convinced that she, as one of the manual telephone exchange operators was sending calls "to the undertaker" to her husband, who ran a competing undertaker business.

He first conceived his invention in 1888, and patented the automatic telephone exchange in 1891. It is reported that he initially constructed a model of his invention from a round collar box and some straight pins.

BTW, someone should edit that Wikipedia entry. The writing's atrocious - probably written by an engineer.

hsh: Kevin Mitnick was involved in a case (as an expert witness) where a Las Vegas pimp alleged that calls to his numbers were redirected to competing pimps.

My goodness. Rentseeking and extortion are one thing, but interfering with the sanctity of the pimp/john relationship . . . well, gentlemen, something must be done.

Russell,

I agree that specific content should not be given preferential treatment based solely on the content. Google negotiating with Verizon for that preferential treatment is concerning and, in fact, over the line I have envisioned. They want to do that as a prelude to expanding youtube to full length movies(of note Google recently expanded youtube video maxes to 15 minutes). However, wouldn't it be better for Google to pay for the expanded bandwidth to accomodate that than the consumer?

However, the technical layer differences in identifying a youtube video versus a BT protocol are very different.

There are also quality of service differences that people may well want to pay for, I keep struggling to define a reason that the last milers should not leverage that market.

My concern, when this discussion crops up, is that (IMO) way too many people have the attitude that somehow there is no valid business context that applies. The internet should just be free, and completely equal to everyone.

Heck, planes and trains have luxury (a stretch these days) first class cabins. Should we have airline neutrality, a plane available anytime to go anywhere and everyone should get a first class seat if they get there first?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, Marty, but this:

However, wouldn't it be better for Google to pay for the expanded bandwidth to accomodate that than the consumer?

appears to conflict with this:

There are also quality of service differences that people may well want to pay for, I keep struggling to define a reason that the last milers should not leverage that market.

Also, who is saying this?

The internet should just be free, and completely equal to everyone.

On an irrelevant side note, if playing Six Degrees of Famous Crackers, my Mitnick number would be 1, since I used to write articles for the same online magazine as a friend who's friends with Kevin Mitnick. Or at least used to be, it's been a while since we've talked.

"It's about differentiating between different content servers. It would be like the phone company giving you a great connection to anyone on their network, and decent ones to anybody who pays them, and then crappy, staticy connections any time you call someone on a network that hasn't paid them."

Which of course is a perfectly reasonable expectation for levels of service. Phone companies have always had SLA's between them to make sure the "people who didn't pay them" problem didn't exist. Why would they provide the same level of service to those that didn't pay them? What would be the problem with ensuring adequate bandwidth to service the ones that did?

The question is "what is the minimum level of service required to be provided in the agreement with Tier 1 providers?" Anything better than that, that Google is willing to pay for would be ok. Enhanced service offerings is different than favoring one over the other by diminishing one.

That was a little stream of consciousness thought process but I decided not to delete it.

The internet should just be free, and completely equal to everyone.

Wait, you mean I shouldn't have been paying my cable for cable modem access for the past decade or so?

I've been robbed!

ISPs already do that, Marty. I have the FIOs 5MB Internet service. If I wanted faster download speeds, or a dedicated IP address, or faster upload speeds, Verizon will sell me those things, at a premium.

But I'm happy back here in economy.

I suppose ISPs could borrow another idea from the airlines. If you're stuck selling a commodity, and can't differentiate to boost your margins, make sure you keep the commodity as scarce as possible. The airlines have managed it by reducing flights and shrinking fleets (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/28/business/28shrink.html). Maybe the ISPs can do it by throttling bandwidth.

"However, wouldn't it be better for Google to pay for the expanded bandwidth to accomodate that than the consumer?

appears to conflict with this:

There are also quality of service differences that people may well want to pay for, I keep struggling to define a reason that the last milers should not leverage that market."


I see them as two different things. Google may wanat to be able to ensure the integrity of their video quality, they pay to ensure the bandwidth is there for that.

I might want to make sure I don't make the UFC matches online so slow I can't get anyone to have a match with me, or I want to download my Netflix movies at the fastsest rate possible or whatever. I might be willing to pay for that.

Both things make some network planner add a nit to his growth projection, each paid for by the benefitting party.

What I don't want is for Google to pay for the extra bandwidth and Comcast to charge me more because they have such great YouTube speeds. So I am NOT against all regulation.

And, for this,

"Only one wire on my block. "

I have more choices for internet access and TV, I used to live where I only could choose verizon(DSL) or Comcast, but there were still a few other DSL guys. But really, a monopoly requires having control of lots more than one block.

"a plane available anytime to go anywhere and everyone should get a first class seat if they get there first?"

Do I get to stand on the grubby little red carpet on the high-bracket side of the velvet rope for a few moments (perhaps yacking self-importantly into a blue-tooth set-up "you tell Robert that we aren't go to go with the lease-back position, and that's it."), while my lessors hold their shabby little carry-ons and await the call to board?

If so, yes. As George Harrison said when an engine caught fire over America on one of the early Beatle tours: "It'll be Beatles and children first if we need to evacuate."

Maybe Verizon will toss those in the back of the internet a tiny bag of nuts and they can cool their heels opening it with their teeth.

What I really love is when after the plane has taxied to a stop with a thump, everyone rises at once in a great commotion to sieze their possessions from the overhead bin and then --- there is no place to go. The air-conditioning goes off. You crane your neck to see what the hold up is and there's a guy in first class in the aisle stretching, downing the last of the champagne, and carefully putting his pants on one leg at a time to preserve the crease.

Meanwhile your Aunt Minnie is croaking her last before you can even get off the plane.

Anyway, I'm rarely convinced by arguments that all commodities are the same and await mere business logic to sort out the difficulties.

Life-saving heart surgery and shoes are different animals. It would seem net neutrality and pinto beans are different animals, too.

But really, a monopoly requires having control of lots more than one block.

Only one wire in my whole town. Only one wire in most towns I'm aware of.

Or, if you want to count DSL as well as cable modem, two, Comcast and Verizon.

Your argument here seems to be that these guys invested lots of $$$ in the infrastructure, so they should be allowed to make hay however they can.

If that's not your argument, perhaps you could clarify.

However if that, or anything like it, is your argument, I call foul.

The infrastructure for delivering comms service to the home is naturally monopolistic. We don't have a range of choices for how to connect, we have, in virtually all places in this country, two or fewer.

The deal with things like this usually goes as follows:

1. A private company builds it out
2. They do so under public control and with the understanding that they will provide a certain level of service

Doesn't always work that way in practice, but that's the gist of it.

As a consumer and as part of the public that grants exclusive or damned close to exclusive privileges to provide those services, I *do not want* the provider to be making deals with content providers to decide which online services will be delivered to my screen more expeditiously than others.

I have no problem with tiered services *to the consumer*. Want more / faster / better, pay for more / faster / better.

What I do have a problem with is preferential treatment of some content over others in return for $$$$ paid to the provider.

If it's going to work that way, I say take it out of private hands and make the Internet a public utility.

now i'm going to be craving a Jim Dandy all weekend. and there isn't a Friendly's anywhere near me.

My kids prevailed on me to take them to see Toy Story 3 in the East Bay tomorrow, so we can also go to Fenton's. (I didn't fight back all that hard.)

According to legend, Almon Strowger, (an undertaker) was motivated to invent an automatic telephone exchange [...] It is reported that he initially constructed a model of his invention from a round collar box and some straight pins.

Actually, they were hairpins, and you do not want to know where he got them.

if playing Six Degrees of Famous Crackers, my Mitnick number would be 1

Hmm. My Cuban number would be 2, but my Wagner number would be 1. I think. Not sure about the rules.

I might want to make sure I don't make the UFC matches online so slow I can't get anyone to have a match with me, or I want to download my Netflix movies at the fastsest rate possible or whatever. I might be willing to pay for that.

Similarly, your ISP might be interested in reducing public access to a variety of sources.

For $30/month, you can get subsidized "Internet Lite" content-subsidized service with access to YouTube, FaceBook, CNN, Fox News, the NYT, the Washington Post, and 1000 other censor-approved sites (http protocol only, Windows only, internet explorer 8 only).

Or if you're interested in getting the whole Internet, unsubsidized service is $130/month and you can get access to the whole internet, with uncensored access to ObsidianWings, information on birth control, gun forums, homeschooling, Craigslist, WikiLeaks, Wikipedia, al-Jazeera, etc...

Oh I would pay the $130 for just OBWi

Marty's not wrong about the reason for the demise of the independent DSL companies, although they were an important stage in forcing the phone companies to provide DSL service themselves.

On the technical matters, a packet is a packet. There is no way to bypass throttling of connection speeds or transfer caps. Those are completely effective mechanisms for controlling the use of the network in a way that is completely blind to destination or content.

The cable companies know that the Internet is about 5 years from killing cable TV dead. Why would you pay Comcast a markup to bundle twelve channels (of which you watch two) when you could just pay for the ones you watch? Or better, just pay for the shows you actually watch?

The TV channels aren't eager for that day to come either since they know it will choke off the cash torrent that cable TV produces. But they know it's coming.

And that already happened to the phone companies. Wireless and VOIP killed their long-distance cash-cow. "Long-distance calling" is a ridiculous idea in the age of the internet - establishing a temporary 64kbit connection anywhere on the planet costs essentially nothing at all.

They know that all the money in the future is in content. And the only way to get a piece is extortion.

Marty: I would pay the $130 for just OBWi

Yes. But the nice thing about the current situation is, you don't have to. There is enormous free surplus value or utility or whatever you want to call it produced by the open, neutral internet. A lot of people get things for free that they would be willing to pay a lot of money for. That is a feature, not a bug.

"There is enormous free surplus value or utility or whatever you want to call it produced by the open, neutral internet."

Well, I just can't seem to process the "free" part I guess. Those companies capital budgets are pretty big, even without operating costs.

Marty: While I am no longer a day to day engineer, a packet is not a packet when using BT, I would defer to the excellent technical discussion on this that occurred in the last net neutrality thread.

A link would've been helpful, since ObWi's search box seems to be broke. I did a Google Blogs search of ObWi and the last such thread I found was this one from late last year.

If that's what you're talking about, I don't know what you think it proved. Some assertions were made specifically about cable modem service, which sound plausible to me given that I know nothing about cable modems, but that is not what we're talking about here. And it's still the case that when you refer to BitTorrent as a "nonstandard protocol", you are using a totally meaningless phrase. You do not know what you're talking about.

But I see that you've been saying more or less the same things on similar threads from even longer ago, and everyone has repeatedly tried to correct your misunderstandings to no effect, so I give up.

HOB,

I would love to hear an explanation at some level of technical sense beyond the Internet is peer to peer, period. And BT is nonstandard in the sense that it can't be throttled as effectively because of the distributed nature of how it works.

If you throttle ALL activity it is just taking a huge percentage of what you have throttled down to, so I don't quite get how that solves the problem.

And I don't remember being technically corrected before, because when a few of the engineers started discussing it I stepped out and just read.

I do tend to deal with the business details more these days.

Marty: I would love to hear an explanation at some level of technical sense beyond the Internet is peer to peer, period.

Based on previous experience, when you get that explanation, you'll ignore it and continue to argue for allowing big corporations to throttle the Internet for their profit and to everyone else's disadvantage.

Perhaps it would be more advantageous to discussion for you to explain why you feel the free market of the Internet, created by P2P protocols, is somehow wrong, and poor people and new startups ought to be as disadvantaged in the use of the Internet as they are everywhere else.

Marty: The internet works on TCP/IP. (See wikipedia for a simple explanation).

TCP/IP is basically a big wrapper around a specifically sized nugget of "data". This data can be anything from part of a picture, to some html code, to part of a streaming video.

The "wrapper" of the data is destination, source, and order information. By reading parts of the wrapper, every router and link between you and your source knows who to pass the packet onto, and the next guy in the chain reads it and continues passing it until it ends up at the proper destination.

The destination gets the wrapped packets, sorts them in the correct order (they do not always arrive in the order they are sent), reconstructs the data into a coherent whole, and displays it.

The entire internet truly "peer to peer" in that you connect YOUR computer up to SOMEONE ELSE's computer (say, your web browser to their web server) and transfer data via IP packets.

Now, Bittorrent and other P2P software works in a very simple fashion, predicated on one useful fact: Most people can download data faster than they can upload it. So P2P software connects you to several other 'peers' (other computers running the software), and they each upload a portion of teh file at their max upload speed -- which means you're downloading the file at your max download speed, because you're taking it from seperate sources.

But -- and this is the part that makes your whole "a packet is not a packet when using BT" such a ludicrous, laughable statement that you should REALLY stop making -- is that the data transfer is done over TCP/IP. (For a reference: wikipedia again notes that the data is transfered STRAIGHT over standard internet protocol!).

Packets are packets. The internet doesn't care. It's all done in IP. Data packets wrapped up in a specific, standardized transport packet. Whether it's an HTML request, streaming video from YouTube, VOIP, or Bittorrent streams -- all that's happening is the creation and transport of IP packets. Identical IP packets, different only in the content (not the size!) of their data segment.

Which is why ISP's have to resort to traffic analysis (not checking your packet 'type' -- they're all identical -- nor the data) but actually retain and analyze source and destination and frequency markers to determine if you're using something like Bittorrent. It tends to cause noticeable patterns as you have steady incoming packet streams from a handful of IP addresses.

The entire internet is an ad-hoc peer-to-peer system. You connect one computer to another, over a giant network of routers and backbones, and data is passed SOLELY by IP. (Let's leave FTP for another time, shall we? It's immaterial to this discussion).

So I shall say this once more: P2P software transports data through the standard Internet Protocol, identical in all respects to the IP packets you get and send when surfing.

Also, your statement of "And BT is nonstandard in the sense that it can't be throttled as effectively because of the distributed nature of how it works" is similarly wrong, or at least incoherent (and actually contradicts your earlier claims that BT is somehow not using IP).

P2P software is difficult to throttle simply because it looks just like all other internet traffic, because it's sent using IP, and thus can only be identified through traffic analysis -- checking your actual packet recieved/sent information. P2P downloading shows fairly noticeable patterns.

Then again -- we pay for bandwidth. I pay for my network usage, just as Google does theirs. They shouldn't be selling bandwidth they can't honor.

Morat20: You can simplify it even further, down to just IP (TCP being an unnecessary complication).

That said, Morat20's explanation is good and accurate and this post only adds to it.

The idea is laid out in RFC 791 (for IPV4) and RFC 2460 (for IPV6). A real pedant would point out the importance of the corresponding ICMP RFCs, RFC 792 and RFC 2463, respectively.

The Internet delivers packets (aka datagrams) from one host with an IP address (often a computer) to another host with an IP address. When insufficient bandwidth is available, it discards those packets. Something that varies too much from this behavior (frex, by giving preferential treatment to certain content) really can't be called the Internet any longer.

In this context the term peer-to-peer means that the Internet treats all hosts symmetrically. Anyone can run any service that they wish on any host without getting permission from anybody.

The telephone network does not work this way, nor did AOL, nor does cable television.

ISPs can obviously measure a user's total amount of data transferred. The ArsTechnica article I linked describes how TWC did just that. For an ISP, Measuring a subscriber's instantaneous bandwidth usage is not much more difficult. BitTorrent traffic is not magical in this regard. It uses IP packets just like everything else. Other protocols can just as easily use multiple simultaneous connections. I could roughly-as-easily be download 50 files simultaneously using http or ftp.

Multi-flow protocols can use more than their fair share of bandwidth because TCP behavior tends towards fairness between flows. This is not unique to BitTorrent by any means.

At the ISP level, throttling could (and should) be done so as to allocate roughly-equal amounts of bandwidth to each subscriber, generally without consideration to the content being transferred.

One other fact bears mentioning. As I said above, when bandwidth is insufficient to meet demand, the Internet drops excess messages (this is how most common implementations signal congestion). Many non-neutrality proposals involve some flavor of dropping non-preferred-provider packets first (that's exactly what "prioritization" means). This is bad because it lets my neighbor's YouTube (for example) usage crowd out my use of other services and it encourages my ISP to keep bandwidth scarce in order to pressure other content providers to pay them for "prioritization".

"In this context the term peer-to-peer means that the Internet treats all hosts symmetrically."

At least I understand the definition of peer to peer being used, not nearly the definition of a peer to peer network (see wikipedia, if need be) but at least it is a working definition.

Multi-flow protocols can use more than their fair share of bandwidth because TCP behavior tends towards fairness between flows. This is not unique to BitTorrent by any means.

No, it is not unique, but it is the working example and does have the impact of creating what is, my definition now, a nonstandard impact of using more than it's share of bandwidth. In fact, it was designed to take advantage of TCP behavior to get more than it's share.

So, should every last miler have to be at the mercy of the next, I'll refrain and just say "new" protocol, that requires them to accomodate very high usage (new,exceptions, nonstandard?) users while maintaining adequate bandwidth for the 90%+?

Gosh, sorry about that sentence structure.

However, this

"At the ISP level, throttling could (and should) be done so as to allocate roughly-equal amounts of bandwidth to each subscriber, generally without consideration to the content being transferred."

Would be great at the server to subscriber end of the last miler network, does it really solve the problem for the last miler?

Multi-flow protocols can use more than their fair share of bandwidth because TCP behavior tends towards fairness between flows. This is not unique to BitTorrent by any means.

Indeed, this is exactly what the iTunes client does: if you buy a season's worth of a TV show, it will use multiple sockets to download multiple episodes concurrently.

They're not at the mercy of anyone. They can cap bandwidth or total transfer amounts very easily without regard to destination or content, or (and they really ought to have gotten their ass in gear on this already) they can lay fiber or build out new infrastructure for higher speeds using existing wire, and then nobody will have any trouble streaming HD video. Bandwidth (on wired connections) really ought not to be a constraint because relatively cheap tech exists to get speeds 10x or more currently typical broadband, as proven by mass rollout in other countries, places where monopoly utilities do what they are told and don't try to induce artificial scarcity to jack up their rates.

Thankfully FIOS and fast wireless are slowly putting pressure on the telcos and cable companies. We just cleared out analog TV at great expense and trouble for high speed wireless services, it would be very annoying not to get them.

The telcos and cable companies want to ration a non-scarce resource using their monopoly power. There is no reason except fat donation checks to let them do it.

a nonstandard impact of using more than it's share of bandwidth

It's share of bandwidth? It's share of bandwidth is determined by the network operator. Competent network operators have no trouble doing this at all. I can saturate my DSL line 24/7 while my next door neighbor, using the exact same service, sees no degradation in his network performance. Because my network operator is competent. Heck, I can allocate bandwidth fairly on my own network using a $40 router because I'm not an idiot.

In fact, it was designed to take advantage of TCP behavior to get more than it's share.

Just like iTunes was! And Firefox! And Chrome! And every download manager/accelerator ever written!

So, should every last miler have to be at the mercy of the next

Competent last-milers have no problem whatsoever. And given that the set of competent last mile network providers includes Verizon of all companies, I'd say that the bar for competence is astonishingly low. Are we really having a conversations about the difficulties faced by companies that are much dumber than Verizon? It boggles the mind.

I'll refrain and just say "new" protocol, that requires them to accomodate very high usage (new,exceptions, nonstandard?) users while maintaining adequate bandwidth for the 90%+?

Instead of a new protocol, they could just, you know, not underprovision their network. Or impose dynamic throughput quotas. One of the nice things about BT traffic is that it is fairly high latency, which means it would be amenable to content-neutral dynamic user throttling.

Incidentally I fully expect providers to start using P2P for caching and content delivery, if they aren't already. Set-tops boxes and gateways with cheap flash storage could do distributed content caching with good reliability for subscribers of the same ISP. Similarly (say) Apple could distribute OS patches through P2P if they modified their licenses so that end-users agreed to it.

Blizzard already uses Bittorrent for distribution of patches to their game World of Warcraft. Surely saves them a huge amount in servers & bandwidth.

Bandwidth (on wired connections) really ought not to be a constraint because relatively cheap tech exists to get speeds 10x or more currently typical broadband, as proven by mass rollout in other countries, places where monopoly utilities do what they are told and don't try to induce artificial scarcity to jack up their rates.

See, you're forgetting something. Americans are stupid. Especially when it comes to technology. That's why people in rural Sweden can get much faster internet service for much lower prices than people living in the densest cities in the US. Because Americans are simply dumber than people in other countries.

Why is it that this thread can't seem to get past making the distinction between bandwidth-usage and content/destination/source considerations? For crying out loud...

If a user (or content provider) is limited in bandwidth (or even total data downloaded/uploaded over some period), what the hell does that have to do with content prioritization? (I'll give you a hint - it rhymes with "muthing" and starts with an "n.")

"That's why people in rural Sweden can get much faster internet service for much lower prices than people living in the densest cities in the US."

Yep all 9 million people in the country(175000 sq miles), maybe the infrastructure for 300M people covering 3.7 million sq miles is a little more complex. Not to mention the difference in culture, government, etc.

Yep all 9 million people in the country(175000 sq miles), maybe the infrastructure for 300M people covering 3.7 million sq miles is a little more complex.

Um, Marty? I didn't write anything about the average internet customer in the US. I wrote about internet customers in the highest density cities in the US. I can assure you that Cambridge MA comprises much much less than 3.7 million square miles and that it has a much much higher density than the US as a whole, or indeed, any rural area in Sweden.

Not to mention the difference in culture, government, etc.

Sure, Americans have a fundamentally stupid culture and stupid government. That follows immediately from the premise that Americans are stupid. Stupid people have stupid cultures.

"Sure, Americans have a fundamentally stupid culture and stupid government. That follows immediately from the premise that Americans are stupid. Stupid people have stupid cultures."

Well, that covers that then.

Well, that covers that then.

I'm open to alternative theories. Why exactly should socialist countries in Europe be able to provide their rural areas with faster internet for lower prices than our awesome capitalist system can provide in high density high tech cities in the US?

By the way, if you wanted to demonstrate some class, it might be good to acknowledge that you misread my density comment and as a result posted a nonsensical counterargument. I mean, that's obvious to everyone, but you might look better if you acknowledge it.

Have we, if nothing else, cured Marty of referring to BT content as being something special, instead of just routine IP traffic?

If so, I'll call this a success as, you know, people learned stuff.

I am not sure I misread your density comment, I am just not sure how it matters. New York City probably has more network wiring than all of Sweden, because of the density, how the cables are run, the differing age of the infrastructure components, etc. it might be harder to deliver enough bandwidth to 19M people, plus businesses in NYC.

When I worked at AT&T we had a database just for Manhattan phone numbers, bigger than any other database for any REGION of the country(6 regions). Your assumption that density should make that bandwidth easier to deliver seems flawed to me.

Marty, people in dense urban areas in Europe also get faster internet access for lower prices than people in dense urban areas in the US. Whenever I point that out to people on the internet, the response is always "Oh, but of course people in Europe get better internet for less money; European countries and Japan have much higher population densities than the US!" so I was trying to preempt that stupidity by comparing rural areas to urban. But it doesn't really matter. Urban areas in the US have crummy internet access compared to urban areas in many parts of Europe or Japan or Korea. Rural areas in the US also have crummy internet access compared to many parts of the Europe or Japan or Korea. The bottom line is that Americans pay more money for slower service than people in most of Europe or Japan or Korea.

Thats true Turb, and Canadians pay a fortune for cell phone service. There are lots of places that have better network infrastructure than we do. Even where we have this "really cool" FIOS fiber to every house we pay too much for too little.

We are losing the technology race, the IP race and we still can't buy a Coke out of the machine with our phones. We are also the only Western country that still uses magnetic strip credit cards.

So Google and Verizon cut a deal today and submitted it to the FCC as a proposal, admitting that they can't just cut a deal.

As fun as it is to see Marty get pwned on this topic, I'd probably refrain from lecturing people on showing class if I'd just smugly, and repeatedly, insulted nearly every single ObWi poster and commenter with the obvious exceptions of Jesurgislac and liberal japonicus.

Phil, what are you talking about?

Ah, I know what you're talking about now.

Hey, I could be wrong about Americans being stupid. In my favor, we did elect George W. Bush. Twice. And we did invade Iraq. And our internet access does suck. So, you know, maybe there's an alternative explanation for these facts besides "Americans are stupid"...can you suggest one?

Our political culture does seem really stupid to me. Always has. Only rarely does anyone say anything in the public arena that makes you proud. I haven't heard or read Bloomberg's speech about the Muslim cultural center, but from secondhand accounts maybe that was one of those times. Usually, though, when a mainstream pundit or politician says anything on TV I change the channel--it's either that or throw some heavy object through the screen. Glenn Greenwald and Bob Somerby are pretty good documentarians of American stupidity, if you'd prefer to read about it rather than read or listen firsthand.

This is off-topic, of course.

I'm not sure if Americans are any dumber than other folks. People do really stupid stuff all around the world.

It does seem to me, however, that are remarkably, and perhaps uniquely, prone to taking great pride in our particular manifestations of stupidity.

For large sections of our population, it's like a badge of honor.

Know-nothing-ism, in all of its forms, has a long and storied history here.

Hey, I could be wrong about Americans being stupid. In my favor, we did elect George W. Bush. Twice.

No, you really didn't. You elected Al Gore and John Kerry, and the elections got rigged to put George W. Bush in power.

And we did invade Iraq. And our internet access does suck. So, you know, maybe there's an alternative explanation for these facts besides "Americans are stupid"...can you suggest one?

You have a corrupt and broken political system which hasn't been properly upgraded since you installed beta-version Democracy in the late 18th century. This political system enables corporations to have way too much power in your country.

But hey: this is the guy you elected President in 2000. Americans can, collectively, be pretty damn smart.

Damn shame your corporate masters decided you should have this guy instead.

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