Observations of an Internet Middleman (Level3) (was: RIP

Scott Helms khelms at zcorum.com
Fri May 16 17:39:43 UTC 2014


You're absolutely correct.  The world adapts to the reality that we find
ourselves in via normal market mechanics.  The problem with proposing that
connectivity for residential customers should be more symmetrical is that
its expensive, which is why we as operators didn't roll it out that way to
start.  We also don't see consumer demand for symmetrical connections and
with the decline in peer to peer file sharing we've actually seen a
decrease the ratio of used upstream bandwidth (though not a decrease in
absolute terms).

I would like to deliver symmetrical bandwidth to all consumers just so
those few customers who need it today would have lower bills but trying to
justify that to our CFO without being able to point to an increase in
revenue either because of more revenue per sub or more subs is a very tough
task.  I don't believe my situation is uncommon.

Scott Helms
Vice President of Technology
(678) 507-5000

On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 1:20 PM, Blake Hudson <blake at ispn.net> wrote:

> Thanks for the insight Scott. I appreciate the experience and point of
> view you're adding to this discussion (not just the responses to me). While
> I might be playing the devil's advocate here a bit, I think one could argue
> each of the points you've made below.
> I do feel that general usage patterns are a reflection of the technologies
> that have traditionally been available to consumers. New uses and
> applications would be available to overcome hurdles if the technologies had
> developed to be symmetrical. I'm not saying that the asymmetrical choice
> was a bad one, but it was not without consequences. If residential ISPs
> sell asymmetric connections for decades, how can the ISP expect that
> application developers would not take this into account when developing
> applications? I don't think my application would be very successful if it
> required X Mbps and half of my market did not meet this requirement. Of
> course content/service providers are going to tailor their services based
> around their market.
> --Blake
> Scott Helms wrote the following on 5/16/2014 12:06 PM:
>> Blake,
>> I might agree with your premise if weren't for a couple of items.
>> 1)  Very few consumers are walking around with a HD or 4K camera today.
>> 2)  Most consumers who want to share video wouldn't know how to host it
>> themselves, which isn't an insurmountable issue but is a big barrier to
>> entry especially given the number of NAT'ed connections.  I think this is
>> much more of a problem than available bandwidth.
>> 3)  Most consumers who want to share videos seem to be satisfied with
>> sharing via one of the cloud services whether that be YouTube (which was
>> created originally for that use), Vimeo, or one of the other legions of
>> services like DropBox.
>> 4)  Finally, upstream bandwidth has increased on many/most operators.  I
>> just ran the FCC's speedtest (mLab not Ookla) and got 22 mbps on my
>> residential cable internet service.  I subscribe to one of the major MSOs
>> for a normal residential package.
>> Scott Helms
>> Vice President of Technology
>> ZCorum
>> (678) 507-5000
>> --------------------------------
>> http://twitter.com/kscotthelms
>> --------------------------------
>> On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM, Blake Hudson <blake at ispn.net <mailto:
>> blake at ispn.net>> wrote:
>>     Certainly video is one of the most bandwidth intensive
>>     applications. I don't deny that a < 1 Mbps video call is both less
>>     common and consumes less bandwidth than an 8Mbps HD stream.
>>     However, if Americans had access to symmetric connections capable
>>     of reliably making HD video calls (they don't, in my experience),
>>     we might be seeing video calls as a common occurrence and not a
>>     novelty. I think the state of usage is a reflection on the
>>     technology available.
>>     If the capability was available at an affordable price to
>>     residential consumers, we might see those consumers stream movies
>>     or send videos from their home or mobile devices via their
>>     internet connection directly to the recipient rather than through
>>     a centralized source like Disney, NetFlix, Youtube, etc. Video
>>     sharing sites (like youtube, vimeo, etc) primary reason for
>>     existence is due to the inability of the site's users to
>>     distribute content themselves. One of the hurdles to overcome in
>>     video sharing is the lack of availability in affordable internet
>>     connectivity that is capable of sending video at reasonable
>>     (greater than real time) speeds.
>>     --Blake
>>     Scott Helms wrote the following on 5/16/2014 11:02 AM:
>>         Blake,
>>         None of those applications come close to causing symmetrical
>>         traffic patterns and for many/most networks the upstream
>>         connectivity has greatly improved.  Anything related to voice
>>         is no more than 80 kbps per line, even if the SIP traffic
>>         isn't trunked (less if it is because the signaling data is
>>         shared).  Document sharing is not being impinged, on my
>>         residential account right now I've uploaded about 30 documents
>>         this morning including large PDFs and Power Point presentations.
>>         Off site back up is one use that could drive traffic, but I
>>         don't believe that the limiting factor is bandwidth.  We
>>         looked at getting into that business and from what we saw the
>>         limiting factor was that most residential and SOHO accounts
>>         didn't want to pay enough to cover your storage & management
>>         costs.  In our analysis the impact of bandwidth on the
>>         consumer side adoption was basically zero.  There is no
>>         expectation that back ups run instantly.  Having said all of
>>         that, even if hosted back up became wildly popular would not
>>         change the balance of power because OTT video is both larger,
>>         especially for HD streams, and used much more frequently.
>>         Scott Helms
>>         Vice President of Technology
>>         ZCorum
>>         (678) 507-5000 <tel:%28678%29%20507-5000>
>>         --------------------------------
>>         http://twitter.com/kscotthelms
>>         --------------------------------
>>         On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 11:53 AM, Blake Hudson <blake at ispn.net
>>         <mailto:blake at ispn.net> <mailto:blake at ispn.net
>>         <mailto:blake at ispn.net>>> wrote:
>>             Jay Ashworth wrote the following on 5/16/2014 10:35 AM:
>>                 ----- Original Message -----
>>                     From: "Mark Tinka" <mark.tinka at seacom.mu
>>         <mailto:mark.tinka at seacom.mu>
>>                     <mailto:mark.tinka at seacom.mu
>>         <mailto:mark.tinka at seacom.mu>>>
>>                     While that is true a lot of the time (especially
>>         for eyeball
>>                     networks), it is less so now due to social media.
>>         Social
>>                     media forces the use of symmetric bandwidth (like
>>         FTTH),
>>                     putting even more demand on the network,
>>                 Oh yes; clearly, Twitter will be the end of L3.
>>                 :-)
>>                 Could you expand a bit, Mark on "Social media forces
>>         the use
>>                 of symmetric
>>                 bandwidth"?  Which social media platform is it that
>>         you think
>>                 has a)
>>                 symmetrical flows that b) are big enough to figure into
>>                 transit symmetry?
>>                 Cheers,
>>                 -- jra
>>             Applications like Skype and Facetime (especially
>>         conference calls)
>>             would be one example where an application benefits from
>>         symmetric
>>             (or asymmetric in favor of higher upload speed) connectivity.
>>             Cloud office applications like storage of documents,
>>         email, and
>>             IVR telephony also benefit from symmetrical connectivity.
>>         Off-site
>>             backup software is another great example. Most residential
>>             connections are ill suited for this. I believe these
>>         applications
>>             (and derivatives) would be more popular today if the
>>         connectivity
>>             was available.
>>             --Blake

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