Did Internet Founders Actually Anticipate Paid,

Joe Greco jgreco at ns.sol.net
Tue Sep 21 13:12:11 UTC 2010

> But there is a potential problem here in that content providers are
> producing applications and content requiring increasing amounts of
> bandwidth but are not bearing the cost of delivering that content to the
> end user.  If the ISPs are directly peering with the content provider at
> some IX, the content provider gets what amounts to a free ride to the
> end user.
> In that light I can see where they might want a fee.  But a better way
> of looking at it is not in prioritizing anyone up, look at it the other
> way.  Imagine an ISP says "if you don't pay us, we are going to
> prioritize your traffic down".  So anyone who pays gets their traffic at
> the normal default priority, those who don't pay get in the "space
> available" line.  Now a content provider who does not pay the toll sees
> a drop in users which equates to a possible drop in ad revenue.

There's a huge risk in this.

Service providers have to recognize that their customers have already
paid for access; when I pay a provider for an "Internet" connection, I
am not paying them to deprioritize the destination I'm trying to reach,
and that would be an epic fail of "best effort".

Content providers already pay fees.  No content is generated and served
entirely for free.  Even in a "free peering" model, electricity costs
money, cooling costs money, space costs money, servers cost money, and
meeting some network's peering requirements generally involves peering
at multiple locations.  Content authors usually prefer to be paid, net
ops people usually prefer to be paid, system admins usually prefer to be
paid, etc.  Content providers pay a lot.

There are some key bits that people miss about all of this.

First off, Internet Service Providers get customers because people want
access to all this fantastic content that's out on the Internet.  No
Yahoo!, no Google, no YouTube, no Facebook, no Netflix, none of that?
Can you honestly tell me that customers would keep their subscriptions
to a service provider without anywhere to go?  Is it the content 
providers who are getting a free ride?  Or is it the Internet Service 
Providers?  Perhaps they're a symbiotic relationship.

Next, content providers are generally already paying their own Service
Providers for access to the Internet.  That might be a Cogent or a
Hurricane or a ServerCentral.  This covers most of the "small fry".  A
large guy like Google may have settlement-free peering with eyeball 
networks, but then again, they've invested an incredible amount of 
money in being a destination your customers want to get to...  the truth
of the matter is you, your customer, and Google all benefit from it.

Finally, there's a risk that this double-edged sword could slice back 
at service providers.  Content networks often raise funds through
advertising.  What happens when one day, some network (*cough ESPN360*), 
decides that a *SERVICE PROVIDER* should pay for the privilege of
getting access to their content?  I mean, after all, two can play at
the game of holding the ISP's subscribers hostage, and in many areas,
subscribers do have a choice between at least two service providers,
in case their first choice sucks.  I don't think we want this, but it
could be a natural backlash.  What if Google came to you and said "you
will pay us a dollar per sub per month, or we will route all your
traffic through a 56k link in Timbuktu"?  Would most eyeball networks
even have a realistic *choice*?

At the end of the day, after stripping away all the distractions, the
concept of prioritizing traffic looks to me like something that is
ultimately intended to squeeze more revenue out of the network, and
this happens by not giving the customer some of what they have already
paid for:  in other words, this happens at the customer's expense.

... JG
Joe Greco - sol.net Network Services - Milwaukee, WI - http://www.sol.net
"We call it the 'one bite at the apple' rule. Give me one chance [and] then I
won't contact you again." - Direct Marketing Ass'n position on e-mail spam(CNN)
With 24 million small businesses in the US alone, that's way too many apples.

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