Did Internet Founders Actually Anticipate Paid, Prioritized Traffic?

Owen DeLong owen at delong.com
Fri Sep 17 14:08:11 CDT 2010

On Sep 17, 2010, at 6:48 AM, Jack Bates wrote:

> 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.
No, you have not de-neutralized their service. You have improved access asymmetrically.

You haven't de-neutralized their service until you REFUSE to create a private peer with Yahoo on the same terms as Google, even assuming we stick to your rather byzantine definition of neutrality.
There is a difference between neutrality and symmetry.

> 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.
Again, this is not part of the neutrality debate, it is a separate operational concern. Network neutrality is not about making sure every user gets a fair shake from every protocol. It's about making sure that source/destination pairs are not subject to divergent priorities on shared links.

> 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.
You're talking about different kinds of prioritization. Nobody is objecting to the idea of building out capacity and peering to places it makes sense.

What people are objecting to is the idea that their upstream provider could take a bribe from a content provider in order to reduce the quality of service to their customers trying to reach other content providers.

> 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.
Not necessarily. It might just mean that the traffic they are sending is sufficiently lucrative that it is worth subsidizing. It might mean that the content provider believes they can gain an (anti-)competitive advantage by reducing the quality of the user experience for subscribers that are going to their competitors. You keep coming back to this anti-p2p-centric rant, but, that's got almost nothing to do with the issue everyone else is attempting to discuss.

>>> 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.
Private peering is completely neutral IF it is available on identical terms and conditions to all players. It won't be symmetrical, but, it is neutral. Again, there is a difference between symmetry and neutrality.

The world is not symmetrical. There is no reason it cannot or should not be neutral.

In fact, there is good argument that being non-neutral is a violation of the Sherman anti-trust act.

> 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.
Again, you are talking about symmetry and mistaking that for neutrality.

Neutrality is about whether or not everyone faces a consistent set of terms and conditions, not identical service or traffic levels.

Neutrality is about letting the customer decide which content they want, not the ISP and expecting the ISP to be a fair broker
in connecting customers 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.
Only so long as you are willing to add bandwidth to the other service(s) on the same terms and conditions as the one service. Yes.

The former is adding capacity to meet demand. The latter is not effectively adding bandwidth, it is reducing bandwidth for one to
reward the other.

In the former case, you are not penalizing other services, you are improving one. In the latter case, you are improving one
service at the expense of all others. It's the expense of all others part that people have a problem with.

> 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.
The private peer doesn't do this by reducing the available bandwidth for the other services.

> 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 way this would work in the real world (and what people are objecting to) is that the ISP would transition from

1) 90mb public with no prioritization


2) 90mb public with N mb prioritized via destination where N is the number of mbps that the destination
	wanted to pay for.

More importantly, it's not the 90mb public circuits where this is the real concern. The real concern is
on the shared customer infrastructure side closer to the end-user where it's, say, 45mbps to the
DSLAM going form 45mbps public to 45mbps public with 20mbps prioritized for content-provider-A
while users trying to use content-provider-B get a degraded experience compared to A if their
neighbors are using A. (Hence my belief that this is already a Sherman Anti-Trust issue).

>> 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.
No, it's more a matter of failing to understand the difference between neutrality and symmetry.
Neutrality means everyone faces the same odds and the same terms and conditions.
It means that amongst the other customers sharing the same ISP infrastructure we are
all treated fairly and consistently.

It does not mean symmetry. It means that you are not artificially penalizing access to
content providers that are not paying you in order to prioritize access to content
providers that are.

> 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.
Apparently not an ISP that I would subscribe to.


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