Level 3 blames Internet slowdowns on ISPs’ refusal to upgrade networks | Ars Technica

Blake Hudson blake at ispn.net
Thu Mar 20 14:16:26 UTC 2014

Mark Tinka wrote the following on 3/20/2014 7:39 AM:
> On Wednesday, March 19, 2014 09:06:47 PM Patrick W. Gilmore
> wrote:
>> The angle on my right shoulder wants to congratulate a
>> "tier one" (whatever the F that means) provider for
>> finally admitting, in writing, in public, from a lawyer,
>> what the rest of us have known for decades.
> Every time the market has troubled the status quo, networks
> have failed to find ways that adapt to that market. The
> market ends up working around the network.
> Napster and all the goodness that followed it, is one such
> example; until iTunes adapted. And yes, iTunes is NOT the
> network.
> Now the OTT's are driving the network hard, and the network
> des not want to adapt (perhaps calling in the FCC is
> adapting... not).
> So expect the market to work around this as well. The
> network keeps getting left behind...
> Mark.

I don't see this as a technical problem, but one of business and ethics. 
ISP X advertises/sells customers "up to 8Mbps" (as an example), but when 
it comes to delivering that product, they've only guaranteed 512Kbps (if 
any) because the ISP hasn't put in the infrastructure to support 8Mbps 
per customer. Customer believes he/she has 8Mbps, Content provider says 
we provide 8Mbps content, but ISP can (theoretically and in practice) 
only deliver a fraction of that. That feels like false advertising to me.

One can reasonably make the argument that not all of ISP X's customers 
are using the service simultaneously, so the infrastructure to support 
8Mbps per customer is unnecessary and unjustified. However, if past 
experience proves that 25% of business X's customers are consistently 
using the service simultaneously and business X has NOT put in the 
infrastructure to support this common level of usage, then this appears 
to be a simple financial decision to advertise/sell something that the 
business knows it cannot deliver. Would the same business practices fly 
in other fields? Perhaps. Airlines overbook, knowing that some customers 
won't show up. However, they don't sell 200 tickets (knowing that 90% if 
customers will show) but have only 100 seats to serve the 180 customers 
they expect. Fast food restaurants don't sell you a fry and drink when 
they know they're out of fries. I can speculate that customers would not 
patronize companies in the travel or food industry if they operated the 
same way that some ISP's operate. The difference, to me, seems to be 
that ISPs often enjoy a monopoly while there are usually several food 
and travel options in most places.


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