Cogent admits to QoSing down streaming

Blake Hudson blake at
Thu Nov 6 20:32:44 UTC 2014

Owen, should providers be able to over subscribe their networks? If so, 
at what tier level (tier 1, 2, 3, residential ISP)? Is it acceptable for 
a provider to permit frequent congestion if they choose to? Or should 
they be forced to take action that may (potentially) lead to increased 
customer rates or reduced customer bandwidth?

I do think that Cogent's customers likely expect to receive their full 
subscription rate, without congestion, nearly 100% of the time (at least 
within the Cogent network). This would mean that having congestion is a 
problem and QoS is not a solution to congestion. However, I don't think 
all customers of all IP transit providers have this expectation. For 
example, residential customers may be happy with "up to X Mbps" if the 
costs associated are 1/10th that of a "guaranteed X Mbps" service. This 
is essentially the difference between "Bronze" and "Silver" service 
levels. As long as market choice exists, I see no problem with a 
provider choosing to operate a slow, inconsistent, or unreliable network 
as long as the internet as a whole, being a piece of critical 
communications infrastructure, remains available and reliable. 
Effectively, this would mean that tier 1 and 2 transit providers 
(including Cogent) would need to be consistent and reliable. While 
regional transit providers and ISPs would be given much more 
flexibility. Regardless, I think letting transit providers/ISPs pick 
winners and losers is a losing strategy in the long term.


Owen DeLong wrote on 11/6/2014 12:10 PM:
> The way I read it was that Cogent actually made things look artificially better for M-Labs while simultaneously making it much worse for one subset of their users and somewhat better for others.
> I would suggest that if we get the educational process right, we should be able to explain that the point where you’re having to select traffic to prioritize is the point where your network is inadequate to the task at hand and should be upgraded.
> I don’t see any reason we shouldn’t be able to use this article as a prime example of a provider doing the wrong thing instead of fixing the real problem — Congestion at exchange points.
> Owen
>> On Nov 6, 2014, at 8:12 AM, Patrick W. Gilmore <patrick at> wrote:
>> <>
>> This is interesting. And it will be detrimental to network neutrality supporters. Cogent admits that while they were publicly complaining about other networks congesting links, they were using QoS to make the problem look worse.
>> One of the problems in "tech" is most people do not realize tone is important, not just substance. There was - still is! - congestion in many places where consumers have one or at most two choice of providers. Even in places where there are two providers, both are frequently congested. Instead of discussing the fact there is no functioning market, no choice for the average end user, and how to fix it, we will now spend a ton of time arguing whether anything is wrong at all because Cogent did this.
>> Wouldn't you rather be discussing whether 4 Mbps is really broadband? (Anyone else have flashbacks to "640K is enough for anyone!"?) Or how many people have more than one choice at 25 Mbps? Or whether a company with a terminating access monopoly can intentionally congest its edge to charge monopoly rents on the content providers their paying customers are trying to access? I know I would.
>> Instead, we'll be talking about how things are not really bad, Cogent just made it look bad on purpose. The subtlety of "it _IS_ bad, Cogent just shifted some of the burden from VoIP to streaming" is not something that plays well in a 30 second sound bite, or at congressional hearings.
>> It's enough to make one consider giving up the idea of having a functioning, useful Internet.
>> -- 
>> TTFN,
>> patrick

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