Did Internet Founders Actually Anticipate Paid, Prioritized Traffic?

Jack Bates jbates at brightok.net
Fri Sep 17 13:48:02 UTC 2010

On 9/17/2010 4:52 AM, Nathan Eisenberg wrote:
>> True net-neutrality means no provider can have a better service than another.
> This statement is not true - or at least, I am not convinced of its truth.  True net neutrality means no provider will artificially de-neutralize their service by introducing destination based priority on congested links.

This is what you want it to mean. If I create a private peer to google, 
I have de-neutralized their service(destination based priority, even 
though in both cases, it's the source of the packets we care about) by 
allowing dedicated bandwidth and lower latency to their cloud.

Also, let's not forget that the design of many p2p programs were 
specifically designed to ignore and bypass congestion controls... ie, 
screw other apps, I will take every bit of bandwidth I can get. This 
type of behavior causes p2p to have higher priority than other apps in a 
network that has no traffic prioritized.

While I agree that traffic type prioritization would be preferred over 
destination based priorities, it often isn't feasible with hardware. 
Understanding the amount of traffic between your customers and a content 
provider helps you decide which content providers might be prioritized 
to give an overall service increase to your customer base.

The fact that a content provider would even pay an ISP, is a high 
indicator that the content provider is sending a high load of traffic to 
the ISP, and bandwidth constraints are an issue with the service. Video 
and voice, in particular, should always try and have precedence over 
p2p, as they completely break and become unusable, where p2p will just 
be forced to move slower.

>> From a false assumption follows false conclusions.

Not really. It's not a neutral world. Private peering is by no means 
neutral. The provider that does enough traffic with google to warrant a 
private peering will have better service levels than the smaller guy who 
has to take the public paths. You view net neutrality as customers 
within an ISP, while I view it as a provider within a network of providers.

The levels of service and pricing I can maintain as a rural ISP can't be 
compared to the metropolitan ISPs. A west coast ISP won't have the same 
level of service as an east coast ISP when dealing with geographical 
based content. We could take it to the international scale, where 
countries don't have equal service levels to content.

> Why do you feel it's true that net-neutrality treads on private (or even public) peering, or content delivery platforms?  In my understanding, they are two separate topics: Net (non)-neutrality is literally about prioritizing different packets on the *same* wire based on whether the destination or source is from an ACL of IPs.  IE this link is congested, Netflix sends me a check every month, send their packets before the ones from Hulu and Youtube.  The act of sending traffic down a different link directly to a peers' network does not affect the neutrality of either party one iota - in fact, it works to solve the congested link problem (Look!  Adding capacity fixed it!).
So you are saying, it's perfectly okay to improve one service over 
another by adding bandwidth directly to that service, but it's 
unacceptable to prioritize it's traffic on congested links (which 
effectively adds more bandwidth for that service). It's the same thing, 
using two different methods.

If we consider all bandwidth available between the customer and content 
(and consider latency as well, as it has an effect on the traffic, 
especially during congestion), a private peer dedicates bandwidth to 
content the same as prioritizing it's traffic. If anything, the private 
peer provides even more bandwidth.

ISP has 2xDS3 available for bandwidth total. Netflix traffic is 20mb/s. 
Bandwidth is considered saturated.

1) 45mb public + 45 mb private = 90mb w/ 45mb prioritized traffic due to 
private peering

2) 90mb public = 90mb w/ 20mb prioritized traffic via destination 
prioritization (actual usage)

It appears that the second is a better deal. The fact that netflix got 
better service levels was an ISP decision. By using prioritization on 
shared pipes, it actually gave customers more bandwidth than using 
separate pipes.

> The ethics of path distances, peering relationships and vector routing, while interesting, are out of scope in a discussion of neutrality.  An argument which makes this a larger issue encompassing peering and vector routing is, in my opinion, either a straw man or a red herring (depending on how well it's presented) attempt to generate a second technoethical issue in order to defeat the first one.

It's a matter of viewpoint. It's convenient to talk about net-neutrality 
when it's scoped, but not when we widen the scope. Customer A gets 
better service than Customer B because he want to a site that had 
prioritization. Never mind that while they fight over the saturated 
link, Customer C beat both of them because he was on a separate segment 
that wasn't saturated. All 3 paid the same amount of money. C > A > B, 
yet C doesn't fall into this net-neutrality discussion, and the 
provider, who wants to keep customers, has more C customers than A, and 
more A customers than B, so B is the most expendable.

My viewpoint is that of an ISP, and as such, I think of net-neutrality 
at a level above some last mile that's saturated at some other ISP.


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