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

Mark Tinka mark.tinka at seacom.mu
Thu Mar 20 16:03:41 UTC 2014

On Thursday, March 20, 2014 04:16:26 PM Blake Hudson wrote:

> 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.

Completely agree.

What I'm saying is the market is now suggesting that the 
idea that I won't be using my 8Mbps all the time does not 
hold as true now as it did ten years ago.

A lot of the content is being driven from the homes 
(symmetric bandwidth being driven by FTTH). And while 
customers are not online 100% of the time, they are more 
online now than they were ten years ago. So building the 
network just enough for what you over-advertise isn't a 
workable strategy. Will it stop? Unlikely...

Now the market is saying, "I want Netflix and all its 
cousins" on a consistent basis, or at least, during prime 
viewing. And the network is failing to deliver this because 
the network is set in its ways.

I'm not yet sure what the solution will be (looking at a 
global scale, not just North America), but I hazard that it 
might not involve the network, in the way it does today, 
unless the network can figure out how to make this work with 
happiness all around.

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