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The Internet Businesses Networking

Neutral Net Needs Twice the Bandwidth of Tiered 271

berberine writes with a link to Ars Technica, straight to an article discussing the differences between a net neutral internet and one that supports tiers of content. As you might imagine, our neutral internet is far more bandwidth-intensive; AT&T estimates it might require as much as twice the bandwidth of a tiered internet. From the article: "Corporate sponsorship of research doesn't automatically invalidate that research; what's needed is a close look at the actual results to determine if they were done correctly. According to David Isenberg, a long-time industry insider and proponent of 'dumb' (neutral) networks, the research itself is fine. In his view, it's simply obvious that a dumb network will require more peak capacity than a managed one. But extending that banal observation to make the claim that running a managed network is cheaper is, to Isenberg, not at all intuitive. For one thing, doubling the peak volume of a network does not mean spending twice as much money as it cost to build the original network."
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Neutral Net Needs Twice the Bandwidth of Tiered

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  • And (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Umbral Blot ( 737704 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:10AM (#19812059) Homepage
    And sometimes it is worth pursuing an outcome that is not maximally effecient for other reasons, a fact that people seem to overlook sometimes. So what if the internet is half as fast as it could be; that is an acceptable trade-off for a free and open internet.
    • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) *
      And sometimes it is worth pursuing an outcome that is not maximally effecient for other reasons, a fact that people seem to overlook sometimes.

      Yeah, like the services provided by those that can't afford to bribe AT&T don't choked off! Even if they do bribe AT&T, if they don't bribe other line carriers, like say, Time Warner and Comcast (or whoever owns the wires), then AT&T's bandwidth is still going to be lower because of the choked traffic coming off the other lines. Traffic is only going to
      • by Retric ( 704075 )
        Bandwidth is cheep, fiber is cheep, networks are cheep and they are only getting cheaper.

        The silly thing is all this network neutrality talk / bribery has cost the AT&T / Cox / etc more than doubling the current available US network backbone would. Ahh well let the old system rot and soon enough new players are going to take over.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Maniac-X ( 825402 )
          The net neutrality talk isn't making things cheaper, fiber is just becoming more proliferate and easy to manufacture. Overall bandwidth is increasing due to sheer inevitability. The internet will be ruined if it becomes tiered. It stands to put smaller ISPs out of business, and increase net cost for the end user, thus lining the pockets of the major ISP execs... sorry, but that's just not something most people want to see. Let's not turn the Internet into RIAA/MPAA v2.0.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by perlchild ( 582235 )
          And the consumer pays those costs...
          AT&T sees it as a way to increase their profits, In other words, unless we boycott them, we sponsor their waste of money...
          Perhaps now, any see why we could do better as an "Internet" without the largest players, at least until they're properly leashed?
    • Re:And (Score:5, Interesting)

      by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:24AM (#19812213) Homepage Journal
      Even then, let's suppose you were willing to accept a tiered Internet. How you tier makes a difference in whether it is maximally efficient for a given application. The reason we used managed networks in a corporate environment is because of corporate priorities -- financial transactions are more important than e-mail, so we segment off financial transactions and then give those transactions that must run over the same network as e-mail a higher priority over the e-mail, for instance.

      The question is: How do we decide what traffic is more important on the Internet? Who pays? Who pays more? That's stupid. The benefits of a a free and open Internet far outweigh the inefficiencies of working with a basically unmanaged network. (Not that the Internet actually is completely unmanaged -- that's just not true. ISPs shape traffic on their own networks to improve customer connectivity to mail or webservers within the ISP's own network). The point of the Internet is to have a network where anything is possible. Tier it off and you'll make it about as useful as the television networks.

      • Re: Re:And (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rnturn ( 11092 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:54AM (#19812517)

        The point of the Internet is to have a network where anything is possible.

        Heh, heh. I can remember when the phone companies wouldn't allow modems because (it seemed to those of us who used them, anyway) it allowed you to do things that the phone company hadn't thought of. "Sending bits across voice lines? NO! You'll have an expensive leased line installed if you want to do that. And you'll lease equipment from us, too. Or we'll cut off your service!"

        Tier it off and you'll make it about as useful as the television networks.

        You've hit the nail on the head. That's the model the phone companies are trying to emulate. It explains their ridiculous subscriber plans that include "Content by whoever".

        I'm not at all surprised at the difficulty that the phone companies are having with the Internet. They had to be dragged -- kicking and screaming -- into accepting packet switched networks in the first place. My guess is that an entire generation of managers (or two) at these companies need to retire before we'll see anything like a basic understanding of the Internet in these companies' actions.

        • by arivanov ( 12034 )
          My guess is that an entire generation of managers (or two) at these companies need to retire before we'll see anything like a basic understanding of the Internet in these companies' actions.

          I think you are somewhat mistaken here. They clearly see where the quick revenue opportunity lies in the current internet and this is all they are interested in - quick revenue without any further capex. They have all the understanding required for this one. The fact that it may kill long term revenue opportunities is

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )
      I just don't buy it. A neutral internet would transfer just as many bits as a prioritized one. The only way for a prioritized network to be better is if some of those bits are more important than others. If you assume that, then you're just begging the question.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Some bits are more important. A UDP packet that is part of a RTP session when dropped may result in an unacceptable quality 911 phone call. A TCP packet part of a HTTP session will just get resent.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Phisbut ( 761268 )

        I just don't buy it. A neutral internet would transfer just as many bits as a prioritized one.

        What I don't get is, from what I understand, a tiered internet is only screwing America. AT&T can charge all they want for the last mile, but with more and more of the Internet being installed elsewhere (and I bet more will come if it gets tiered in America), and more and more users not in America, Europeans, Asians and Australians will get excellent connections to servers in Europe, Asia and Australia, while

    • Yeah, but you have to be sure you're not just pushing the unfreeness onto another aspect. Let's take the simplest kind of NN, where literally every packet has to be treated the same. (Some people want this. Not necessarily informed people, but whatever.) Then someone can just send packets non-stop, and since they're sending more packet transfer requests (whatever those are called) everyone else has to get in line behind those "dummy" requests. It then becomes a competition to see who can flood the netw
      • Let's take the simplest kind of NN, where literally every packet has to be treated the same.
        OK, at this point I'm going to have to object. As someone who works with neural networks, I feel compelled to say that this has got to stop. It was bad enough that "neutral networks" has only one letter different from "neural networks". You are not allowed to call them NN. No, not yours. :)
    • TFA (Score:2, Funny)

      by Robber Tom ( 1116343 )
      It's worth noting that AT&T funded the study. They MAY have a vested interest.
    • Re:And (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Saint Fnordius ( 456567 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:40AM (#19812371) Homepage Journal
      To put it differently, unmanaged traffic where the drivers get to decide which road they use themselves is less efficient than a traffic net where a central authority dictates to you which highway you're allowed to take. Of course an unmanaged net needs more throughput capacity overall, but in exchange the traffic doesn't require micromanaging. Part of why highways and trucks beat out rail service is because of that flexibility, of not being at the mercy of the switching stations and schedules.

      Or consider an irrigation network with multiple sources and multiple outlets. You could either build all the pipes so that any of them could deliver maximum capacity, or have workers actively controlling the valves to distribute the water across the entire net so that one side doesn't overload. The latter solution doesn't require as robust a pipe, but requires a more complex valve system and somebody controlling it.
      • Re:And (Score:4, Insightful)

        by datapharmer ( 1099455 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:09AM (#19812689) Homepage
        That's a horrible analogy - It just doesn't hold up. The trains are actually far more efficient than highways as a system, but since the U.S. spends more on cleaning roadkill of the highways than total funding for Amtrak they don't have enough staff or working trains so things get off schedule which causes the entire system to break. Just because the U.S. can't manage a switched system doesn't mean it is bad... try telling someone in France that the highway is faster and more efficient than the train!

        Unmanaged networks are inefficient and pointless. There is no damage in routing things to avoid network congestion, but tiered networks are bad too. A tiered network is like a toll road that has restricted carpool type lanes, but the number of passengers doesn't matter - how much you pay in tolls does.
        • Re:And (Score:4, Interesting)

          by aaronl ( 43811 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:50AM (#19813259) Homepage
          Trains and highway have different efficiencies, though. A train is an excellent way to move a lot of something a long distance. Highways are excellent for non-linear, lowest time transit, or local distribution. I couldn't take a train to my home, for example. I would need to take a taxi, bus, or personal car to get there from the train station. I couldn't take a train to work, since the time lost getting to the train, getting on the train, getting off the train, and getting from the station to work far exceeds the travel time to just drive.

          Going between cities is where trains are the most useful. Moving about inside, or around, a city is where the highways are most needed. Rural areas, and there a lot of them in most every country, still need highways nearly all travel.

          The unmanaged system of highways allows for all of the same things as trains, though less efficiently, but also allows for *substantially* more freedom of movement and independence of travel time. The right answer, as it always has been, is to use both.

          BTW - it isn't just Amtrak that has problems in the US. Nearly all public transit systems are doing their best to approach complete uselessness. It is still faster and less expensive, for me to own, insure, and operate a car where I live than it is to use public transit. This is in metrowest Massachusetts, for reference. NYC is better, but the subway is still no picnic, and light rail can be hell there, too, but it's still a lot better than driving, usually.

          For what it's worth, if rail was the better option in the US, business would use it more. As it turns out, you get more for your money by moving things around with trucks and planes. Transit times are much lower, and you can deal with changes in volume and the need to reroute things much more easily.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jack455 ( 748443 )
      Good post, except the implication you make here: "So what if the internet is half as fast as it could be; that is an acceptable trade-off for a free and open internet."
      I even agree with the sentiment, but the study incorrectly implied or stated that doubling the peak capacity would double the costs. Even if that were true, not doubling the peak capacity would _not_ halve the "speed" of the internet. For what it's worth here's a selected quote from Ars quoting Isenberg, commenting on the study.

      doubling the peak volume of a network does not mean spending twice as much money as it cost to build the original network. "The failure of the authors to extend the conclusions from capacity to raw costs of capacity is deliberately misleading," Isenberg says, "especially when the researchers invoked 'economic viability' and 'cost of capacity' in their introduction to the work." ...
      According to Isenberg, the cheapest and best alternative is simply to build out dumb capacity: to "overprovision" by as much as 100 percent.

    • by dpilot ( 134227 )
      > that is an acceptable trade-off for a free and open internet.

      You make 2 mistakes:
      First, that a free and open internet is desirable.
      Second, assuming it is desirable, that it's more important than near-term profits.

      I certainly wouldn't argue either point with you. In principle and in public, I don't think anyone would either, including government regulators. In practice and in private, I suspect that both arguments are toast.
    • Just because it takes 2 x the bandwidth for a neutral network does not mean more infrastructure needs to be built and more cost needs to be expended. Who says we are not currently operating at 1/2 or less of the available bandwidth. What about all that "dark fiber" I've heard so much about??
    • Not to mention (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! ( 33014 )
      It's actually a rather boneheaded comparison.

      It's like saying a tractor-trailer requires an engine with 20x the torque of a family sedan. Well, yeah, because they do different things.

      A net neutral network provides a level playing field on which content providers can enter without barriers and compete against anybody.

      A non-neutral net does not provide the ability of content vendors to enter the market on an equal basis without setting up a special deal with a network bandwidth provider. In practice, this m
  • Pshaw. That's easy. The major cost of bandwidth is running all the fiber. Doubling the bandwidth adds maybe 10%?
    • by JordanL ( 886154 )
      I believe they mean doubling *existing* bandwidth, in which case it would indeed cost a lot... that would mean doubling the entire infrastructure of our internet backbone.

      But again, that doesn't necessarilly mean that its less cost-effective.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:13AM (#19812095)
    But we're already paying eight times the cost of neutral net bandwidth, so in what way is this study relevant to the consumer?
    • by enrevanche ( 953125 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:41AM (#19813107)
      It is relevant in that this study can be used by the congressman that have been paid for by AT&T to oppose net neutrality.

      It is relevant because it will allow AT&T to make a system for which they can charge vastly more than they do now.

      It is relevant because it will allow AT&T to reduce your choice more and more over time and to take bigger and bigger pieces of the internet pie.

      It is relevant because it will allow AT&T to force more and more companies to deal directly with them for connectivity if their customers want any access to the AT&Ts customers (or shall we call them victims.)

    • It isn't. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:13PM (#19814371) Homepage Journal
      The study is flawed from a number of perspectives. First, as you mention, the current costs to consumers vastly exceed the costs to provide this mythical doubling in bandwidth. Secondly, network neutrality (to me) means that everyone gets the same experience and access as everyone else. This means that if you implement user-neutral traffic management (packet dropping schemes to minimize retransmits, throttling streams at congested points, fair service to ensure no connection is stagnant, smarter routing algorithms that avoid segments that are basically dead in the water) and user-neutral methods of improving data distribution (web caches, multicasting, SRM) then you gain virtually all of the benefits AT&T claim for their non-neutral system - and more besides - without harming a single user.

      The above remedies would give all of the smoothing at peak times on heavily loaded routers, but in a manner that is entirely equitable and - get this - doesn't actually reduce the service provided to anyone. The peaks that kill the backbones are not particularly long-lived and contain a vast number of unnecessary retransmits, inflating the traffic levels. Schemes already exist that can potentially halve the retransmits and diffuse the load over just enough time that it can be handled. Other schemes already exist that can eliminate unnecessary repeat transmissions from source, massively reducing the load on the most burdened segments.

      None of these require that any user be given priority or special privileges. None of these require that neutrality be compromised. Yet none of these require that either services or end-users experience any detectable delays (at worst) - and most of the time, both services and end-users will experience a much faster, smoother Internet.

      Of course, you'll never get AT&T to admit that the reason they can't do any better is that they're not only greedy but also technologically incompetent. Nonetheless, that is the reality of the situation. It is also something missing from said "study".

  • I tend to support limiting government regulation. This is an issue that I find myself very conflicted on. I have seen studies that make a good case that insisting on net neutrality is the scenario that favors expanding bandwidth to the highest degree. The problem is that ISP's are generally government created semi-monopolies, so unless we force the government to change the rules eliminating this monopoly status, government regulation is necessary to maintain the public interest. On the other hand, I don't t
    • AT&T is the primary company pushing to be allowed to do this. I am a Comcast subscriber. This is my traceroute to

      3 ( 9.116 ms 9.247 ms *
      4 ( 9.021 ms * 9.210 ms
      5 ( 19.295 ms 20.255 ms 19.232 ms
      6 ( 46.279 ms 46.672 ms 45.820 ms
      7 ( 45.180 ms 45.821 ms
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ..."We really want to double the price of what you're paying us for bandwidth".
  • They mean to say that a network with arbitrary caps and rate limiting consumes less bandwidth than an unrestricted one? Say it ain't so!

    Next up: Conserve water by tying a knot in your garden hose.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dw ( 5168 )
      >They mean to say that a network with arbitrary caps and rate limiting consumes less bandwidth than an unrestricted one? Say it ain't so!

      To look at it another way. A provider desiring to guarantee QOS... latency, jitter and minimum bandwidth for services such as VoIP, without having the benifit of having control over that bandwidth, would need to have a lot more bandwidth to meet those expectations.

      This is just restating the idea that QOS enforcement becomes irrelevant with enough bandwidth.
  • Wait a second... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vigmeister ( 1112659 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:24AM (#19812217)
    When I am looking at leasing an internet connection at home, I equate bandwidth with speed and this is a reasonably rational assumption (today).

    Analyzing the situation and pluggin in numbers,
    Assume that the bandwidth available is fixed. What they're essentially saying is that either all of us can get 50BjBps (Bajillion Bps) regardless of the importance of our packets, or using a pareto distribution, 20% of us will get 80BjBps and 80% will get 20BjBps effectively?

    I know these are rough numbers, But damn if I know which one I'd prefer... I think at the end of the day, a clearly defined set of standards for prioritization needs to first be developed by an independent body (ICANN/ISO/IEEE?). Once that is done, we can debate net neutrality. Right now, none of us actually know what is going to be prioritized. If streaming video for doctors performing live surgery is prioritized, I'm OK with that. If companies can buy priority for commercial, then I am kind of opposed to it unless I am guaranteed that these priority purchases will subsidize my connection.

    Maybe they can have two levels of internet access: Neutral internet access (~$50 p.m) and Tiered access (~$10 p.m). Then let these levels fight it out. Of course, the implementation is unclear to me as I am not network engineer. To think about it, isn't this tiered in itself?

    • by Xeth ( 614132 )

      If what you want is a reduction in latency, how about just making that one more thing that you purchase when you're buying a connection? If I want my doctors to transmit videos, well then I'll buy the 10 mbit/100msec package. If I'm just messing around with email, then I'll buy a consumer package. By simply making latency another part of the purchasing decision, the market will (in this case) work. Why bother with nasty things like tiers and payola?

      Yes, I realize that a single ISP doesn't control all the wi

    • I think at the end of the day, a clearly defined set of standards for prioritization needs to first be developed by an independent body (ICANN/ISO/IEEE?)

      How about the EFF?

  • by grev ( 974855 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:28AM (#19812251)
    Majority of people don't know what net neutrality is, they don't care, and they never will. Now, whenever the issue is brought up in the mainstream news or whatever, big business can talk about how it's half as efficient, in addition to being communist and un-American. I can only imagine how this will turn out.
    • by Magada ( 741361 )
      OH NOES! Twice the bandwidth needed! ZOMG! WTFBBQ! Pwnt!
      The argument is easily defused, imho, by the simple observation that building and manning the infrastructure needed will actually create jobs, as well as provide new growth opportunity for all sorts of businesses - the new, neutral, high-bandwidth Internet could even become something like the highway and hydro projects undertaken as part of the New Deal - a way to energize the whole of the economy by targeted investments in infrastructure.
  • Your existing newtorks are built upon relatively simple, freely available protocols.
    Any hypothetical or actual throughput you think you'll gain from sexing up the infrastructure will come at the cost of lots of pain. Buggy code, code with bugs inserted for nefarious purposes...
    I hope that there will always be "plain old networks" available. If a company wants to come up with some slick product and sell it to the sheep, fine. That's capitalism. I just wont have much compassion during the winter, when t
  • Net Neutrality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tuoqui ( 1091447 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:30AM (#19812269) Journal
    Is not about a dumb internet. It is about an internet that does not discriminate based on entry or exit points and/or the protocol being used except where such discrimination will benefit the overall network performance.

    Net Neutrality Positive
    VOIP Packets receiving priority (because lag and bandwidth throttling reduce performance of VOIP technologies)
    Prioritizing Gaming traffic of popular/well used games (IE. MMOs, FPS over internet, etc...)

    Net Neutrality Negative
    Throttling Bandwidth on P2P applications (This is the big concern on most ISPs, they admittedly do suck up a lot of bandwidth)
    Extorting Money from websites who have not paid large sums of money for faster service (YouTube-wannabes)
    Delaying or Denying packets coming from X-Network (because they didn't pay extortion money)

    Ways to fix things... Run more Fiber. It should not be as hard as it was before since many of the tunnels and such have been made already.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )

      Ways to fix things... Run more Fiber. It should not be as hard as it was before since many of the tunnels and such have been made already.
      That is not the answer.
      There is already plenty of fiber is lying around.

      The real issue is hardware to light up the fiber and then to switch the packets.
      That is where the ISPs are trying to cheap out.
    • Net Neutrality Positive
      VOIP Packets receiving priority (because lag and bandwidth throttling reduce performance of VOIP technologies)
      Prioritizing Gaming traffic of popular/well used games (IE. MMOs, FPS over internet, etc...)

      Except that the only VoIP that your giant ISP will prioritize will be their own, overpriced version. It will be used to kill off all other VoIP competition.

      As for the gaming, expect to pay a monthly surcharge, which might be hidden in the monthly game charges if they collect it f

  • Bandwidth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:37AM (#19812325) Homepage
    Bandwidth is a funny resource.

    Imagine if you had a tree that bore fruit once or twice a day. But if you did not eat the fruit within an hour, it spoiled. There's no point in trying to conserve the fruit unless your demand is higher than the output of the tree.

    Its always good to have say, 10% free. Out of ten fruit, leave one so that any surprise visitors might have a quick snack as well.

    Of course, the other reason you might try to conserve it is to create artificial demand. Now, half of your crop goes to waste. You sell the other half for very high prices saying that your supply just can't keep up with demand and that you must sell them at a higher price due to the whole free market thing.

    Point is, every fruit you don't sell will be useless in an hour. But its better to let a fruit rot than to sell it for a decent price, after all.
  • by Fross ( 83754 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:37AM (#19812331)
    couldn't this be re-interpreted as saying that if they were to run a tiered network, they would have no problem throttling its bandwidth to 50%, in order to ensure the content *they* prioritise gets through unhindered?

  • fud fud fud ...

    When in doubt, spread fud. Just like the myth of "the evils of socialized medicine." Tell the same lie enough and people start spouting it themselves. Now, for example, you have uneducated ignorant folk yelling as loud as can be that "commie-loving socialized medicine is no good," despite the fact that in many countries it works sufficient enough to increase the average lifespan of their citizens. [and for the record, I think Michael Moore is full of shit, so don't lump me in with that se
    • Wait -- for all your complaining about health-related fud, aren't you the one who thinks a valid way to calculate fraction of health care costs due to the legal system, would be to divide visible awards (or visible awards + lawyer costs) by total health care expenditures? And then to say, "oops, that's .5%, guess it's not a big deal, even if doctors spend half their salaries on liability insurance" ?
      • I think that health care should be universal. But you have to present both sides of the issue. Yes, you benefit with increased health coverage, less red tape [everything is covered, no hassling about which treatment is available], etc. But you DO pay more in taxes for it. It's not free, it's universal. And it works because most people don't need it on a regular basis but pay for it anyways. For example, for every 1 person in a hospital [or currently going through a treatment] there is probably a 100 w
  • AT&T is saying that their existing customer base is getting crappy service because they don't have enough bandwidth to support their customer base. So, instead of, I don't know....dealing with the problem by making infrastructure changes they should have made 5-10 years ago, instead they want to charge content providers for access to their inadequate pipes.

    With all the patching Automatic Update does, I'm surprised that Microsoft isn't all over a neutral net. They may have to pay a fortune to ISPs. Th
    • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:12PM (#19814361)

      With all the patching Automatic Update does, I'm surprised that Microsoft isn't all over a neutral net. They may have to pay a fortune to ISPs.

      They can afford to pay a fortune to ISPs, especially if it means competitors (like every Linux distro that is gratis as well as libre) that can't instantly suffers a major disadvantage in pushing updates.

  • by fishthegeek ( 943099 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:48AM (#19812457) Journal
    I ran the text through google translate and this is what happened:

    Researchers at AT&T were very concerned that bandwidth would be further commoditized if the government does not act to prevent it. If At&t is required to treat everyone the same, then the consumer is free to choose the services that they want based on something called "quality of service" rather than a more practical method of choosing.... say... oh I don't know... uhm... a method of choosing based on how profitable it is for At&t. Having the consumer choose services based on what benefits At&t is a much more practical and convenient way for the consumer to purchase services over the Internet.

    At&t is very concerned about the bewildering number of options that the American consumer has available, and with the best interest of our customers at heart, At&t should assist the consumer by limiting the number of choices immediately.

    Spokesmen for At&t quickly said that "We do not want to the consumer to get the full unfettered benefit of the Internet because then we would have to actually add infrastructure to meet demand.
    • I ran the text through google translate and this is what happened:

      And now you know why Google will be the first Internet service relegated to the slowest service possible. Can't have this getting out to everyone. Heck, they might even put it on their main page -- something to fill up all that unused white space.

  • In other words... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Em Ellel ( 523581 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:51AM (#19812491)
    Allowing traffic through requires more bandwidth than blocking traffic.

    Whomever got paid to "research" this - I admire your ability to get paid for stating the obvious.

    • by bhmit1 ( 2270 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:14AM (#19812753) Homepage

      Allowing traffic through requires more bandwidth than blocking traffic.
      More importantly, they basically said that when they are allowed to have a tiered internet, they intend on blocking half of the traffic. If you're a generator of traffic to an isp, and you're not paying the tariff/extortion, guess what half you're in?
  • One would think it would be about economies of scale, stupid AT&T, et al. Seriously, if you offer a base broadband package for $10/month with 2GB of download bandwidth included, and $0.25/GB after that, I bet that would reliably generate a lot more revenue, in a more efficient way, than mucking around with websites, contracts, etc. Anyone remember the telecoms trying to make companies like Google out to be robber barons, foisting all of the costs onto the public []? That's how ridiculous it's gotten. Unlim
    • NO, no no no. This will provide the most efficient and cost effective system for the consumer. Not only would the system be easy to maintain, it would allow audits to determine whether a provider is reasonably charging for the semi-monopolized service.


      By building a huge regulated infrastructure, the comprehension of the system is too difficult. Plus, AT&T knows that consumer will become more and more dependent on the internet. They know that they can get consumers to eventually pay substantially

    • by AusIV ( 950840 )
      I agree. I've never understood why broadband works the way it does. You're given a limit to how much data you can transfer per second. It doesn't matter whether you're using your full bandwidth every second of the month, or use ten percent of your full bandwidth a few times a month you pay the same price.

      Now, your broadband provider pays the same cost to transfer 1 kb whether you're downloading a web page or a movie - you just get a lot more bits with a movie. It's never made since to me that someone who

    • Seriously, if you offer a base broadband package for $10/month with 2GB of download bandwidth included, and $0.25/GB after that,

      Excuse me BUT, AT&T already has to offer a basic DSL connection for $10/mo with no cap. This is part of what they agreed to in order to be allowed to merge with another provider. While they hide this fact as best they can (don't believe me, go try to find it on their pages), it's already there. I'd get it for my mother, if it was just available in her area because it's all

  • The purpose of a network is to transmit data. It receives usage when a customer sends packets over it. By AT&T's own admission, a neutral network is twice as useful to customers as a tiered one, but they want the tiered one anyway since it increases profit margins and allows them to blackmail Web sites.

  • This is just another industry sponsored "proof" for use by lobbyists.

    Corporate sponsorship of research doesn't automatically invalidate that research Right, I'm sure Phillip Morris would agree. Industry doesn't sponsor research that it doesn't already know what the conclusion will be.

  • I read the Ars article, and tried to get through the AT&T study (going to try again after more coffee). As I read this research: If companies are allowed to drop "unimportant" packets to the sidelines, while only guaranteeing 1/3 of the packets as fast delivery as otherwise necessary, they only need 50% of the bandwidth.

    Assuming that my analysis is correct:

    1. No shit. Airlines recently announced that if customers are willing to extend travel times by flying around the world on empty seats to get wher
    • by Chirs ( 87576 )
      "I don't think anyone opposes tiering on the consumer side."

      Um...yah. I do. Your example is not tiering, but rather simply paying for bandwidth.

      Tiering would allow your ISP to define their traffic shaping, so that maybe Vonage VoIP packets get dropped while AT&T's VoIP packets get through because AT&T owns the network. Or they decide that newsgroups are unimportant and so now they take forever to access. Or maybe your neighbor fires up his TV-over-IP and all the sudden your dropped packet rate s
      • No, what you are describing is content based tiering (which is evil). I meant tiering, just on the consumer side. For instance, I would love to have a guaranteed connection of X, with an up to Y ( Y > X ) connection speed when bandwidth was available, assuming it was cheaper than just Y bandwidth. That is, have a tier 1 connection of X, and a tier 2 connection of Y-X. As long I can use my VOIP and some small webbrowsing on the side.

  • I do not know if they are saying that the need for bandwidth is a good or bad thing. What I do know is that most people who sell stuff are not looking to sell less of it. They may package it so they sell less at a higher profit each time, but they are trying to sell more. For instance ATT is now trying to sell integrated packages to pay for all the cable they are laying out. These packages coincidentally are in some cases asking you to pay for stuff that you can get free on the internet. Additionally ba
  • who are they to tell me how to use it for god's sakes. i bought it, i use it, and you cant tell me anything about it. dont sell it if you dont want to.
  • So what happened to all that optical fiber that was laid but unused during the dot com era? Did it finally get used? Every company wants to emulate DeBeers and create artificial scarcity, so they can jack up the price. If spam were ever gotten under control I would imagine that there would be no need to increase bandwidth.

    Smells like FUD to me.
    • There is a lot of dark fiber in the ground along major backbones, but that doesn't mean the switching and last mile distribution to use it is in place. And a lot of that fiber is not up to specs needed for 100Gbps DWDM.

  • by gig ( 78408 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:24AM (#19812877)
    For years a significant portion of Internet bandwidth is faulty Windows computers distributing malware to each other because Microsoft deviated from standard industry practice with regards to network security.

    If you're going to start being stingy about bandwidth I suggest network providers bill Microsoft until their tire fires are put out.
  • As you might imagine, our neutral internet is far more bandwidth-intensive;

    "Our neutral internet"? Obviously the OP doesn't realize that ISPs are already managing network flow, and have been since such management technologies first became available to them. Colleges and other ISPs already try to identify and downgrade bandwidth-intensive torrents and such (if not block them outright), and cable ISPs already give special priority to their own network services (cable-co. VoIP plans, etc.).

    This then brings up

  • by rbegga ( 662104 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:43AM (#19813145) Homepage

    To the Bandwidth Providers:

    We keep hearing these arguments from the Telco's and Cable COs about how much more difficult it will be to build and maintain an open Internet because of the bandwidth requirements that imposes. Enlighten us as to why this is now a problem considering the major Telecom bust that occurred a few years back was due to the overcapacity you had built into your networks? Google is going around buying up dark fiber from you guys while you're complaining about lack of infrastructure? Nonsense. I don't believe you guys can't figure out a model to make this work for you and us without getting the government involved.

  • Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:50AM (#19813247)
    It should be obvious that if you don't prioritize traffic based on QoS requirements that you will need more bandwidth. This has been a basic given for many years now. The question is what will it cost to prioritize the traffic to meet a given QoS level vs. just adding bandwidth.

    There are a lot lot of people who think the various prioritization schemes that have been proposed just won't work because they are not scalable - while a fast dumb core is.

    To me the problem with prioritization is that it is just harder to implement, and once it is in place it makes management harder. Also it tends to place limits as to what you can do on the IP network. Fast-dumb doesn't have these problems.

  • Multicast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kludge ( 13653 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:51AM (#19813273)
    Speaking of reducing necessary bandwidth, when are these ISPs all going to push multicast for media delivery? Isn't this a no brainer for reducing bandwidth?
  • You are not even providing the bandwidth you were supposed to provide with your advertisement and rates and all the public funding you got. First, give us the promised bandwidth, then talk about other stuff. You were selling products that you were not able to deliver - this passes as fraud in any country, court in the world.
  • Okay, who wants to try to come up with words which provide network neutrality, without preventing me from blocking spammers. :) (Note: I would, of course, be willing to let someone who wants to put up some money to back his claim that his mail is legitimate send me mail. After all, the problem with spam is that, since it's free, it grows without bounds. If it costs money, he's not going to send tons of crap.)
    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      Okay, who wants to try to come up with words which provide network neutrality, without preventing me from blocking spammers.

      You're welcome to block all the spam you want. Blocking email based on whether or not the sender shelled out cash *cough*goodmail*cough* isn't "blocking spam", just like blocking Youtube based on whether or not they shelled out cash for the bandwidth your customer was already paying for isn't a "tiered internet".

      Around here, the words we use for "network neutrality" that don't prevent you from blocking spammers are "status" and "quo". We're not the ones trying to change the way the internet is run.

  • Twice what? (Score:2, Informative)

    George Orwell warned everyone about doublespeak. Net Neutrality is the internet as it is NOW. Unregulated, untouched, and un-fucked with by the Bells.

    So the headline states that we need to double the bandwidth we have now, in order for what we have now to work?
    That makes no sense what-so-ever.
  • Charge people for the bandwidth they use.

    If ISPs weren't wedded to unlimited plans for their customers then they could charge people for what they actually use and not have to worry about charging at both ends.
  • capping bandwidth reduces bandwidth requirements! film at a 11!
  • Ripoff Talk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:21AM (#19813675) Homepage Journal
    What this research really proves is that a neutral network needs only double the bandwidth to replace a tiered one . Doubling the bandwidth is a lot cheaper, faster rollout, and more manageable than a tiered network. And it's more scalable than a complex tiered network. Plus, it has twice the bandwidth. And it doesn't have the flexibility and openness of a neutral network.

    These Net Doublecharge crooks will say anything to get their extortion money. I expect they will, because they don't care about us, just their money and political power. But why does Slashdot have to publish it? Slashdot, a big website, is a target for Net Doublecharge, which will blackmail Slashdot's servers to carry its traffic to nerd consumers.

    Let's not only pay them to give us the Internet that we built for them with our taxes and scientists, and created demand for with our content and services, and also peddle their lies that are stealing the whole thing from us.
  • I want a tiered network.

    I want different levels of service for different services.

    And I want to be the one who sets those levels. After all, it's MY bandwidth. I'M the one paying for it!

    Let me be the one to decide to put my preferred VoIP provider at the top. It doesn't use that much bandwidth overall, but response is important. My Bittorret goes at the bottom. Web browsing in the middle, and on-line gaming above that. You can guess where YouTube fits in.

    I, for one, believe that if the ability

  • Bandwidth isn't where the cost goes. The biggest costs for an ISP are in in marketing and customer support, not bandwidth. If you look at wholesale ISP rates, what an reseller pays per customer for the raw service, they're less than half the retail rates.

    The key to cost control is keeping down the number of people involved. Fibre is cheap.

  • by Tired and Emotional ( 750842 ) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @01:01PM (#19815071)
    Twice the bandwidth is an amazingly small multiplier. Its the sort of growth factor that one can reasonably imagine being accomodated with improvements in technology and build-out over a short period. So one has to ask what was the motivation for coming up with that number.

    Seems to me what they are thinking is that all the managed stuff will fit within existing capacity and then the unmanaged stuff requires new capacity. Or, to put it another way, all the available capacity needs to be managed.

    So the real statement here is "we need to close down the internet as it exists today so we can repurpose the network in order to generate greater revenues".

  • by Riskable ( 19437 ) <> on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @01:19PM (#19815357) Homepage Journal
    What the big ISPs want isn't just a two-tiered Internet where some traffic gets priority over another. They want two distinct Internets. One were you have control and another where they have control. They'll probably share the same tier-1 backbones but everything below that will be separated (imagine a router configured to send packets from their sources directly to you via a hyper-speed backbone whereas all other traffic gets routed through a dozen or so more hops on the "economy" backbone).

    If you want a practical example of precisely how they they plan to violate network neutrality look at the DOCSIS 3.0 spec. It reserves about 80% of the bandwidth on the coaxial cable for video and telephone services that are exclusively provided by the cable company (i.e. no one else is allowed on). The other 20% of the bandwidth is provided as general Internet access (with the usual limited upload speed). This way they can be the gatekeeper for high-bandwidth content (i.e. video) and low-latency applications (i.e. VoIP) while every other business that wants access to their customers has to either pay to get on their high-speed channels or get stuck with the slow lane.

    The telephone companies are already rolling out technologies that divide up fiber connections in a similar fashion. The "big plan" is to get paid extra for that exclusive, high-speed and low-latency channel into people's homes. It is a hugely anti-competitive situation.

    If you provide streaming video to anyone on the Internet you will not be able to compete with the speed and quality of the video coming over Comcast's, AT&T's, and Verizon's dedicated pipes. If you're a VoIP provider that provides telephone service to anyone on the Internet you will not be able to compete with the low-latency and high quality of the big ISP's dedicated pipes. If you provide *any* service over the Internet all it will take for you to be crushed out of existence is for the big ISPs to start offering the same service on their dedicated, exclusive channels.

    It isn't about prioritizing traffic. It is about dividing it up and destroying the free market that is Internet access in people's homes. It is literally "divide and conquer".

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill