What Net Neutrality should and should not cover

Rick Astley jnanog at gmail.com
Sun Apr 27 06:05:24 UTC 2014

Without the actual proposal being published for review its hard to know the
specifics but it appears that it prohibits blocking and last mile tinkering
of traffic (#1). What this means to me is ISP's can't block access to a
specific website like alibaba and demand ransom from subscribers to access
it again. I do not know if this provision would also include prohibiting
intentionally throttling traffic on a home by home basis (#2) and holding
services to the same kind of random is also prohibited but I think this too
would be a far practice to prohibit. Bits are bits.

>From the routers article (
and elsewhere it seems what the proposal does not outlaw is paid
and perhaps use of QoS on networks.

#3 On paid peering:
I think this is where people start to disagree but I don't see what should
be criminal about paid peering agreements. More specifically, I see serious
problems once you outlaw paid peering and then look at the potential
repercussions that would have. Clearly it would not be fair to for only the
largest content providers to be legally mandated as settlement free peers
because that would leave smaller competitors out in the cold. The only fair
way to outlaw paid peering would be to do it across the board for all
companies big and small. This would be everyone from major content
providers to my uncle to sells hand runs a website to sell hand crafted
chairs. This would have major sweeping repercussions for the Internet as we
know it over night.

I think it makes sense to allow companies to work it out as long as the
prices charged aren't unreasonably high based on market prices for data.
This means if 2 ISP's with similar networks want to be settlement free they
can. If ISP's want to charge for transit they can, and if ISP's want to
charge CDN's to deliver data they can. Typically the company with the
disproportional amount of costs of carrying the traffic would charge the
other company but really it should be up to the companies involved to
decide. Based on the post by Tom Wheeler from the FCC (
http://www.fcc.gov/blog/setting-record-straight-fcc-s-open-internet-rules )
it sounds like if this pricing is "commercially unreasonable" (ie
extortion) they will step in. Again I think this is fair.

#4 On QoS (ie fast lane?):
In some of the articles I skimmed there was a lot of talk about fast lane
traffic but what this sounds like today would be known as QoS and
classification marking that would really only become a factor under
instances of congestion. The tech bloggers and journalists all seems to be
unanimously opposed to this but I admit I am sort of scratching my head at
the outrage over something that has been in prevalent use on many major
networks for several years. I don't see this as the end of the Internet as
we know it that now seems to essentially be popular opinion on the issue.
Numerous businesses are using QoS to protect things like voice traffic and
business critical or emergency traffic from being impacted in a failure
scenario. In modern day hyper converged networks where pretty soon even
mobile voice traffic could be VoIP over a data network prohibiting the use
of all QoS seems irresponsible.

The larger question is, is it fair for ISP's to charge people to be in a
priority other than "best effort"?  To answer a question with a question,
if an ISP is using a priority other than "best effort" for some of its own
traffic is it fair if a peer with a competing service is only best effort
delivery? This is sort of akin to Comcast not counting its own video
service against the ~250G/month cap of subscribers but counting off network
traffic against it. In theory if some of an ISP's own services are able to
use higher than best effort priority the same should be available to the
business they are selling service to. If they go completely out of their
way to intentionally congest the network to force people into needing a
higher than best effort classification I would think it should fall into
what the FCC calls "commercially unreasonable" and thus be considered a
violation. So again, I think this is fair.

I have numbered the items I mentioned from 1-4 being
#1. Blocking
#2. per household (last mile) rate limiting of a service (though rate
limiting at all anywhere should probably be up for discussion so #2.5)
#3. The legality of paid peering
#4. The legality of QoS (unless fast lane is something else I don't

Feel free to augment the list.

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