Did Internet Founders Actually Anticipate Paid, Prioritized Traffic?

George Bonser gbonser at seven.com
Sun Sep 19 23:09:49 UTC 2010

> IMHO it's stupid for an ISP to intentionally design for and allow
> bottlenecks to exist within their network.  The bottleneck to the end
> user is currently unavoidable, and users with bandwidth intensive uses
> might prefer some prioritization (to their own specifications) on that
> part of the link.  Bottlenecks within the ISP network and between ISPs
> should be avoidable, and should be avoided.  Any ISP that fails to
> mitigate those bottlenecks will quickly find customers streaming to
> another ISP that will advertise "no network congestion here, no
> shaping that slows down traffic that might be important to YOU" etc.
> jc

I think the extent to which one favors prioritization or not will depend
on who they are and what is going on at the moment.  If I am an ISP that
is not a telecom provider of circuits, I might be more in favor of
prioritization.  If I am a provider of bandwidth to others, I would be
against it as I want to sell bandwidth to them.  It might also depend on
circumstances that vary from time to time.  

If an application suddenly appears that becomes wildly popular
practically overnight and is a bandwidth hog, it might be difficult to
move fast enough to accommodate that usage.  I seem to remember that
when Napster first appeared, it swamped many networks. 

If a situation occurs such as a disaster of national or global or even
local interest, maybe the sudden demand swamps the existing
infrastructure.  If I were providing consumer access, I might provide
two methods.  The first would be no prioritization, just treat
everything equally.  The second might be a "canned" prioritization
profile that a user could elect for application to their connection.
This might not prioritize any specific content provider over another so
much as prioritize certain protocols over another. So it might
prioritize VOIP up, and p2p protocols down as an example.  A "value
added" situation might be one that allows a user to specify their own
prioritization profile for some additional fee.

In an emergency situation, a provider might possibly want to have some
prioritization profiles "on the shelf" ready to apply if needed. This
might prioritize traffic to certain government, emergency, and
information services up and traffic to some other services and protocols

Generally, I would want to see every network have enough bandwidth for
every contingency but that is somewhat unrealistic because we don't have
a crystal ball.  What would be the demand today in the case of another
9/11/01 type of event? I don't think anyone really knows. In that case,
not having some prioritization plan in place might render a network
completely useless.  Having one might allow some services to work at the
expense of others. I would rather be connected to a network that would
allow access to government sites, news and information sites, email, and
voice communications at the expense of, say, gaming, streaming content,
gambling, and porn for the duration of the emergency.

It would also be better, in my opinion, for networks to have their own
emergency plans than to put in place a mechanism where government
dictates what gets done and when.  You can flee a network that does
something you don't like for one that has a plan more in line with your
priorities, fleeing a government is more difficult.

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