Level 3 Communications Issues Statement Concerning Comcast's Actions

William Herrin bill at herrin.us
Mon Nov 29 20:18:46 CST 2010

On Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 5:28 PM, Patrick W. Gilmore <patrick at ianai.net> wrote:
> <http://www.marketwatch.com/story/level-3-communications-issues-statement-concerning-comcasts-actions-2010-11-29?reflink=MW_news_stmp>
> I understand that politics is off-topic, but this policy affects operational aspects of the 'Net.


The way I explain it to folks is this:

It's a question of double-dipping. If company A has a customer B who
pays A for a particular service, company C should not be able to pay
company A to meaningfully change the character of B's service. Such a
pay-to-play interference in A's contract with B is unfair to customer
B at a very fundamental level.

Now, you guys have to get paid. There is no acceptable end result
where C comes along, busts your oversubscription model and blows you a
raspberry. But you can't do it by double-billing the service. That's
usually unethical and in many forms of commerce it's illegal too. IMO,
Comcast is cruising for a bruising here.

So try something else.

Maybe you'll openly peer with all comers but only at 100 mbps in any
single location. You'll open as many locations deep in the network as
they want, but it's the peer's problem to connect there. Naturally
you'll sell a convenience service to backhaul all those connection
points to a convenient location for the peers... or they can make
their own arrangements but either way they don't get to massively
consume your backbone for free. There's probably enough separation
there between what you sell customer B and what you sell customer C to
eke over to the "good" side of the ethics line. And by the way an open
peering policy with those parameters would make you the Chamber of
Commerce's new best friend, enabling small business to vend innovative
products directly to your customers (and then pay you for the
convenience of aggregation once they build up a customer base).

Or maybe you'll just enforce the oversubscription ratio. X bandwidth
for the light users. The same X bandwidth for the heavy users. If
you're in the top 2% you're grouped with the heavy users. But oh by
the way you can buy the Video package for $10 more and we'll put you
in group Y instead where you have a clear shot at Netflix that
consumes a different channel. If the remainder of your usage is
outside the top 2% you can go back to the light users group. Netflix
can't pay us for that; it would interfere with our contract with you.
But you can pay us.

I don't know the final answer here, but it isn't some kind of
ethically-challenged double-dipping the till.

Bill Herrin

P.S. I'll see your off-topic politics and raise you an ethics lecture.

William D. Herrin ................ herrin at dirtside.com  bill at herrin.us
3005 Crane Dr. ...................... Web: <http://bill.herrin.us/>
Falls Church, VA 22042-3004

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