Did Internet Founders Actually Anticipate Paid, Prioritized Traffic?

William Allen Simpson william.allen.simpson at gmail.com
Tue Sep 14 15:39:03 UTC 2010

On 9/13/10 5:39 PM, Sean Donelan wrote:
> On Mon, 13 Sep 2010, Barry Shein wrote:
>> In the "early internet", let's call that prior to 1990, the hierarchy
>> wasn't price etc, it was:
>> 1. ARPA/ONR (and later NSF) Research sites and actual network research
>> 2. Faculty with funding from 1 at major university research sites
>> 3. Faculty with funding from 1 at not so major universities
>> 4. Faculty at 2 and 3 w/o actual research grants from 1
>> 4. Students at 2 and 3 (tho less so at 3)
>> 5. Everyone else who managed to sneak onto the net (DEC salesmen etc)
>> People worried a fair amount about bandwidth on a network with a 56kb
>> backbone. And those thoughts tended to turn to those hierarchies.
> And don't forget the research & education network folks almost always charged commercial institutions a "premium" (sometimes called a "donation") to connect to the Internet in the early days.
> Even in the early 1990's during privatization, ANS charged differentiated pricing with educational instituations being charged less and commercial institutions being charged more.
> During the pre-1990's, I doubt any of the Internet "founders" were thinking of how to pay for networks other than asking for more grant money. ARPA and friends paid the bills, and asked for things like TOS/COS long before DiffServ because the military
> likes to prioritize
> things for all sorts of reasons besides price.
Another dinosaur speaking.  I spent some 8 years in the '80s-'90s looking at
pricing for the Michigan House Fiscal Agency, and wrote the legislative
boilerplate for funding the Michigan NSFnet contribution.  If you think of
Cerf et alia as the "fathers" of the Internet, think of me as the midwife....

Barry is correct.  Sean is partly correct (we talked about funding beyond
grants).  ATT is simply wrong.

While we talked *a* *lot* about public-private partnerships, we *never*
agreed on pricing per packet.  On the contrary, whenever it was discussed,
that was shot down.  Vigorously!  Vociferously!

Micro economists Hal Varian and Jeff MacKie-Mason were *not* Internet founders!

Every so often, I like to brag that for a $5 million annual initial investment,
we saved Michigan alone $100 million in telecommunication and computing costs
over the first few years.  ATT + Ameritech + CWA *hated* me!  (As did some of
the department folks that justified their salaries and empire building by the
dollar totals that flowed through their department.)

Reminder: when we specified the first few PPP Over ISDN products, we assumed
bits are bits are bits.  Then the "I Smell Dollars Now" incumbents decided
"data" bits were more valuable than "voice" bits.  We went back to the
drawing board, and *CHANGED* the specification to require the capability to
send PPP Over ISDN voice without losing to robbed bit signaling (56Kbps), so
that we could provision around the pricing problem.

But there's only so much we can do technically, when they use lawyers and
lobbying to outlaw our technical solutions that route around problems.  ISPs
really need to re-invigorate the old CIX, ISP/C, whatever.

Otherwise, you will not survive as NANOG.

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