Did Internet Founders Actually Anticipate Paid, PrioritizedTraffic?

Brett Frankenberger rbf+nanog at panix.com
Mon Sep 13 19:48:22 UTC 2010

On Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 10:15:02AM -0400, Jamie Bowden wrote:
> I was thinking more along the lines of the fact that I pay for access
> at home, my employer pays for access here at work, and Google, Apple,
> etc. pay for access (unless they've moved into the DFZ, which only
> happens when it's beneficial for all players that you're there).  

Moving into the DFZ is different from not paying for access.  Many
enterprises and providers take full BGP routes and have no default, but
they're still paying for connectivity.

> Why should we pay extra for what we're already supposed to be
> getting.  If the ISps can't deliver what we're already paying for,
> they're broken.

The little secret (for some values of secret) that no one isn this
thread is talking about is that consumer Internet access is a low
margin cutthroat business.  Consumers demand ever-increasing amounts of
bandwidth and don't want to pay more for it.  Providers figure out a
way to deliver or lose the business to another provider who figures out
a way.  Of course they're going to try to monetize the other end, so
they can charge the customer less and keep his business, and of course
they're going to do things that the purists object to and that are
harmful, because most of the customers won't care and they'll like the
low price.

It's the same reason we have NAT boxes in everyone's homes.  It saves
money, and consumers are heavily cost driven, and they don't know or
don't care what they are losing when they buy purely, or almost purely,
on price.

There's no NAT in my house, and I'll switch to commercial grade
Internet service (and pay the appropriate price) if residential service
drops to an unacceptable level of quality for me.  (Right now, I can
opt out of their attempts to monetize the other end -- for example, I
run my own DNS server rather than use my provider's that redirects
typos somewhere that gets them money.)  But my costs -- for more than
one IP address, for a real router rather than a consumer grade toy --
are considerably higher than what most people are willing to pay.

Companies of any significant size probably aren't going to fall prey to
net-non-neutrality ... but they're going to pay business prices for
Internet, and that's going to cover the costs of providing the service
and a reasonable profit.  If that's what you want at home, then pay
that price and you can get that.

But most people at home will choose to pay less for their service and
let their provider monetize both ends of the connection.  

To be clear, I'm not staking out a philosophical postion here.  I'm a
purist -- see above, I don't NAT and I'll pay for a better connection
if my consumer connections become insufficiently neutral -- but most
people won't and there is and will be a real market in providing cheap,
less pure, bandwidth.

     -- Brett

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