[TUHS] [ really net neutrality - don't you folks believe in subject lines? ]

Jon Steinhart jon at fourwinds.com
Wed Dec 13 02:52:06 AEST 2017

Random832 writes:
> The rule that I want is that I am the customer. If Comcast wants to give
> better service to my neighbor who is paying more, that's fine, but
> that's not remotely the same thing as making it harder for me to connect
> to Netflix than to their own streaming service because Netflix didn't
> pay up. They're essentially taking money from me twice - once from
> actually charging me for internet service, and once from the portion of
> my Netflix (etc) subscription that goes to paying their extortion fees
> (because let's not pretend that "fast lanes" won't go hand-in-hand with
> degradation of the standard service). If they want more money from me
> they should have to raise the actual price they bill me with instead of
> being sneaky about it.

To me this all comes down to the network stack model.  At the low level
I'd like to be paying X dollars for Y bits per second.  There shouldn't
be any restrictions on what I can do with those bits.  Netflix et. al.
should be doing the same.  Of course, they buy a lot more bits/second.

There's a big difference between the internet and the old phone system
which comes down to "peering agreements".  In the phone system, if an
AT&T customer called a GTE customer a connection would be made for that
call.  If an AT&T customer in an isolated district called another AT&T
customer it was AT&T's problem to route the call; it didn't go through
GTE's network.

Quick diversion here for a good story.  The town in which I went to
college was exactly one of these districts; we were New York Telephone
but separated from the rest of that network by a GTE district.  Dialing
1 in the pre-computer days said "hit the microwave tower 'cause it's
long distance".  We found a local number that had a 300-3300 Hz sweep
test tone.  We could dial 1 which would send the call out over the
microwave, then dial the local number.  There was no checking to see
that it could just be connected as a local call.  So the sweep tone
would start at 300 Hz and continue until it hit 2600 Hz at which point
the it would disconnect and leave the originator with an unallocated
trunk circuit just waiting for MF tones.  The great thing about it was
they NYT was looking for the 2600 Hz tone coming from our end but it
was coming from theirs.  They eventually caught on and installed a
notch filter.

Anyway, there is a real issue with the internet is that traffic can go
anywhere.  Netflix can be on provider A, I can be on provider A in some
other part of the world, and the traffic might get routed through provider
B who doesn't have anybody paying for either end of the connection.  If I
were a provider B customer then I'd at least be paying them something for
those bits.  Topology means that some providers route more traffic for
non-customers than customers.  It would be as if NYT sent all of its long
distance calls via GTE to another NYT customer; GTE wouldn't get paid for
the service.  It would seem that this might be addressed by having monthly
traffic settlements or something.

This is a different issue that end providers screwing their end users.  This
is more a matter of providers owning too much of the stack.  It's why I
support providers being common carriers of bits for all content providers.

There is a separate political issue here which is control of information.
It's obvious that the net is part of a huge propaganda machine now, and
that "bad folks" want to keep people from messing with them.  This is
similar to how ADM and Koch Industries getting seats on the NPR board
has eliminated any good reporting that they don't like.  Like a lot of
things today, sounds like news but isn't.  This is a non-technical issue
that probably doesn't belong on this list but is very very important.


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