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Robert McMillen: What Everyone Gets Wrong In the Debate Over Net Neutrality 270

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-was-never-fair dept.
ygslash writes "Robert McMillen of Wired claims that we have gotten Net Neutrality all wrong. While we are all busy arguing about whether there should be regulations preventing large content providers from getting preferential bandwidth, McMillen says that not only have the large content providers already had preferential bandwidth for ten years, but that by now this has become an inherent part of the structure of the Internet and in practice cannot be changed. Instead, he says, the Net Neutrality discussion should be about ensuring a free and open competitive market for bandwidth, so that anyone who wants bandwidth can purchase it at a fair price.
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Robert McMillen: What Everyone Gets Wrong In the Debate Over Net Neutrality

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  • Re:Strawman (Score:3, Informative)

    by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Monday June 23, 2014 @10:30AM (#47297665)

    Outright traffic shaping part of the debate, but not the entire debate. Some of the higher-profile NN disputes have been over peering agreements, e.g. Comcast's refusal to increase its peering with Level 3, who is Netflix's provider, because of Comcast's claims that the benefit of the peering agreement is asymmetric.

  • Re:Strawman (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:27AM (#47298065)

    Comcast is supposed to simply be a path

    And this is one of the problems. Comcast is a path, but it is also a company with a video service that Netflix competes with. The more people use Netflix, the less they use Comcast's video service. So if Comcast can slow Netflix down until they pay Comcast money for "fast lane access", then Comcast doubly-wins: 1) Netflix might need to raise prices to cover the additional costs making Comcast's video services cheaper by comparison (or, at least, not as expensive) and 2) Even if people still use Netflix instead of Comcast's video services, Comcast will still profit off of their usage (twice: once for the customers paying Comcast for the Internet connection and once for Netflix paying Comcast not to slow them down).

    If ISPs were forced to remain separate from content services companies, this wouldn't happen.

  • Re:Why not both? (Score:5, Informative)

    by BronsCon (927697) <social@bronstrup.com> on Monday June 23, 2014 @11:59AM (#47298307) Journal
    There's nothing wrong with Netflix, Hulu, Google, or anyone else for that matter, going directly to an ISP and saying "Here's some equipment; if you install it, your users will be able to get our content, which is a big reason they pay you, faster." There is, likewise, nothing wrong with the ISP saying "Sure, let's get that equipment installed. It's gonna cost you $10,000.00/mo to use our facilities and backbone." And, there's nothing wrong with the two parties agreeing to, and implementing that. What's wrong is the ISP moving the intermediary providers (e.g. the backbones) between them and the provider wishing to install their equipment onto slower links until the provider agrees to pay the fee (at which point, the intermediary becomes irrelevant and probably remains on the degraded link), thereby degrading service for everybody. Especially when there is a peering agreement between the ISP and the intermediary provider and/or the intermediary is willing (and even asking or begging) to pay for the link they were on before.

    And if you think that's not exactly what happened, please, explain this [washingtonpost.com].
  • Re:Strawman (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArhcAngel (247594) on Monday June 23, 2014 @12:01PM (#47298345)

    > Comcast's peering connection to Level 3 has been saturated (over 90% capacity) 24/7 for over a year now

    Got a source on that? Not that I doubt you, just looking to back up that claim.

    While he doesn't come right out and say the name of any specific ISP Mark Taylor VP of Content and Media at Level 3 points his finger [level3.com] at 5 major US ISP's that have been saturated for over a year and refuse to upgrade their connection. Take that revelation and combine it with this graph [washingtonpost.com] which shows 8 Major ISPs and the relative speed with which Netflix traverses them and the 5 companies he references become pretty clear. Granted the graph does originate from Netflix so grain of salt and all that but I'm inclined to believe the data.

  • by kybur (1002682) on Monday June 23, 2014 @02:48PM (#47299585)
    A lot of people seem to be replying to this as if the parent were suggesting client side caching. More likely, the parent is talking about ISP level cache servers, which Netflix provides ISPs free of charge. This drastically reduces the amount of bandwidth being used between the ISP and the Internet. Netflix has actually done a great job with their cache servers, open source hardware design, based loosely on the Backblaze storage pod. Netflix also publishes the exact hardware they use to build them. Very cool move for a big corporation. https://www.netflix.com/openco... [netflix.com]

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