Network Neutrality

Lonnie Olson lists at
Fri Dec 5 13:23:26 MST 2008

On Wed, Dec 3, 2008 at 10:38 AM, Von Grant Fugal <von at> wrote:
>> Net neutrality, unless you plan to violently kill the internet.
> I'd like to echo the other comment:
> Was there ever a case for net neutrality?
> Well, it's a noble thought, and not without it's merits, but the
> downsides severely outweigh the benefits, IMO. And if uTorrent decides
> to be nasty, and lots of people decide to use it that nasty way, that's
> just one example of many many possible downsides.

Most of you guys are forgetting the other (primary) reason for Net
Neutrality.  That is preventing the unfair treatment of traffic based
on extortion.

Torrents are only a possible side-effect of net neutrality.  Net
Neutrality proponents are trying to prevent the splintering and
degradation of our currently unified Internet.  Many large Tier-1 ISPs
would like to step back to the days of AOL/Compuserve.  A time when
your choice of ISP greatly affected what you see online, who you can
communicate with, and your overall online experience.  Net Neutrality
is primarily focused on keeping traffic between peering points
neutral, fairly treated, and unified.

Bittorrent is a separate topic.  While torrents exploit TCP to get
it's users a bigger share of the pipe, the real problem lies in
differences in perception of what is deserved.

ISPs have always over subscribed their links.  They sell unlimited
connections.  Their definition of unlimited originally meant unlimited
time you can be connected.  It then evolved into a marketing only term
with no real meaning (to the ISP).  Now the word has largely
disappeared and has become the defacto standard of all broadband
connections.  It is still essentially meaningless to ISPs.

Users have taken the opposite view.  Most users, especially those that
don't understand network congestion, define the term unlimited to mean
they can transfer whatever data they want, as much data as they want,
up to the point of saturating their own personal link 24/7.

Most ISPs cannot even attempt to correct their users different
perception without severely impacting business.  Hence they resort to
tactics like Comcast to throttle the 5% of people that actually want
to take advantage of what, in their opinion, is deserved.

Their are two real solutions:
1. All/Most ISPs redefine their services to include real limits, or
charge more for truly unlimited, and educate their customers so they
get the proper perception.  Xmission has been one example of a company
trying to accomplish this.
2. Users get over their differing perceptions and stop hogging the
bandwidth that is not really theirs.

These solutions will require really tough marketing changes that will
affect the bottom lines of large ISP for quite a while.  That is going
to be extremely hard.

Back to Net Neutrality, there are some people that desire to roll in
requirements to ISPs to guarantee traffic to users into any Net
Neutrality legislation.  This is probably where many people get
confused and think Net Neutrality is all about file-sharing.


More information about the PLUG mailing list