Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Network The Internet Verizon

How 'Fast Lanes' Will Change the Internet 192

An anonymous reader writes "Net neutrality has been looking pretty shaky in recent months. Netflix has started paying Comcast and Verizon directly and the FCC is saying that's perfectly fine. We may be witnessing a fundamental change in the nature of the internet. Timothy B. Lee at Vox explains how all of this works, and what it means for the future of the web. Quoting: '[S]ome of the largest ISPs now seem to view declining network performance not as a technical problem to be solved so much as a source of leverage in business negotiations. Another reason is that regulating interconnection is much more complex than a "classic" network neutrality rule. When all of an ISP's traffic comes through one cable, it's not too hard to write a rule requiring that the packets in that cable be treated equally. But it's harder to write a rule governing when and how ISPs must interconnect. Someone needs to pay for the cost of these connections, and the fairest way to split the costs depends on many subtle factors, including geography, traffic patterns, and the relative size of the interconnecting networks. A poorly written interconnection rule could create a lot of work for lawyers without actually preventing abusive practices.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How 'Fast Lanes' Will Change the Internet

Comments Filter:
  • Real Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:13PM (#46901843) Homepage

    Break up the big providers to ensure meaningful competition. The end consumers wouldn't tolerate ISP's that deliberately provide crappy service if they weren't forced to because most areas only have one broadband provider.

  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thule ( 9041 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:20PM (#46901949) Homepage

    Someone actually pointed out something I've been saying for a while. My point was that traffic shaping rules don't make any sense if an ISP peers with preferred providers of services. Say they want to provide quality VoIP. They don't need to shape competitors packets, they just need to keep their VoIP traffic off congested links. Duh! Net neutrality rules wouldn't have covered peering.

    So now the government is talking about regulating peering. I feared this would happen once someone woke up to how the Internet actually works. I really don't see how any good can come of this. As I've stated previously, there was an article YEARS ago that pointed out that Yahoo! only paid for half of their bandwidth requirements. They had their own national network that they would deliver content directly to ISP's. It was a win-win because the traffic would stay off the transit links of both Yahoo! and the ISP's. They were connecting content to eyeballs. It wasn't traditional settlement-free peering, but it was a good thing. Nothing wrong with it. Peering is good. Why should the government get involved with this?

    As far as Netflix is concerned, they painted themselves into a corner. They used a CDN (Cogent) that had settlement-free peering with many networks. Once Netflix started sending their traffic over those links it broke the settlement-free agreement. Netflix might have been in a better position if they didn't use a CDN and all their traffic went over transit. Then make agreements directly with the large ISP's that didn't involve existing peering ports.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:26PM (#46902017) Homepage Journal

    as long as the "slow" lane is "fast enough".

    That's the problem - they are not creating any "fast lanes". They are artificially creating slow lanes to get more money. It's like if the state put down continuous rumble strips on all right hand lanes, and charged you extra for the privilege of driving in the left hand lane.

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:33PM (#46902103) Journal

    Only one rule that would prevent this crap. Unfortunately, it would have to come from Congress:

    "All Internet Service Providers are required to treat each data packet and/or stream passing within its networks with equal priority, without regard to source, content, or destination. Failure to do so will incur a fine of 1% of the provider's calculated annual revenue for each week this condition is not corrected to the satisfaction of prosecutors, plus an additional 1% of annual revenue for each week the condition has existed from the date it was first reported to the Justice Department, plus an additional 1% of annual revenue to the person or entity which first discovered and credibly reported the infraction."

    I suspect that even Verizon and/or Comcast would want that shit solved awful quickly, and the bounty makes sure that any technically-minded customer can keep them honest (I mean, damn - the chance to win 1% of a big ISP's revenue would be enough to get me to script something to monitor that shit...)

  • by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:34PM (#46902127)
    the problem is, they won't be selling the fast lanes to consumers, they'll be selling them to providers. like netflix and youtube. so prices will continue to go up for services, and the consumers (us) won't connect the dots.
  • Re:Real Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:37PM (#46902165) Journal

    Break up the big providers to ensure meaningful competition.

    Even better - regulate them like any other utility, right down to capping their profit margins.

  • Re:Real Solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:50PM (#46902289)

    Not just break up. Separate into 3 distinct companies.
    1. owns the cables. especially the local loops. rents it out to anyone who wants to be an ISP, at FRAND terms.
    2. the ISP. provides the internet service.
    3. The content provider.

    Make it illegal for any single company to supply services in more then 1 category.
    And because the cables are a natural monopoly it should be either owned by a Municipality or strictly regulated.

  • by XopherMV ( 575514 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:50PM (#46902293) Journal
    Provider pays to provide information, customer pays ISP for access to internet and then has to pay a per view fee to view content at reasonable speeds. So long as there's money to be extracted, the consumer will be squeezed.

    This buys into the framing of the argument pushed by the ISPs. The content providers were already paying for their own connection to the internet. Now if content providers want to provide fast connections to their customers, then they not only have to pay their own ISP, but they also need to send money to every other ISP in the world. This fundamentally changes the structure of the market.

    And you, as a customer, get a crappy connection to the internet unless the content providers pay. That's true regardless of what you pay your ISP for their advertised bandwidth.

    If this goes too far, customers will eventually start suing their ISPs for false advertising. ISP customers are paying for a certain amount of bandwidth, not a certain amount of bandwidth IF the content providers also pay.
  • by TopherC ( 412335 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @03:55PM (#46902339)

    One problem is that folks have to pay Comcast for decent internet service, and also they have to pay Netflix for a subscription. Fine of course, but if Netflix has to pony up extra fast-lane and direct-lane fees, ultimately their subscription prices increase. So Comcast+Netflix customers essentially get a hidden charge for their video streaming, one directly to Comcast and the other indirectly to Comcast (through Netflix). The real problem is that the indirect fee also applies to DSL and satellite customers, so you can't even avoid this fee by choosing a Comcast competitor.

    I can understand wanting a free market system to avoid tragedy-of-the-commons types of issues with Netflix customers causing other non-streaming subscribers to get worse performance, but this present "solution" is clearly broken and gives Comcast and other last-mile providers a significant economic influence over other companies like Netflix that does not derive from consumer choice.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:10PM (#46902491)

    the slow lanes are a made up of a small minority of people who cut out cable TV and demand netflix to be crystal clear
    most cable companies can't even send regular TV in full HD on every channel. even in NYC full HD is only on a few channels. some supposedly HD channels look worse than SD

    most people like me don't care. cartoons look fine on netflix and that's good enough for me.
    i'll take the current cheap service over a more expensive guaranteed speed that a minority demand. ISP's need to make a higher paid tier since only business accounts get guaranteed speed. the people ranting about this on the internet want the same thing as current cable TV super bundles instead in a different form. they want someone else to pay for their top tier service

  • by fropenn ( 1116699 ) on Friday May 02, 2014 @05:59PM (#46903501)
    If I wanted the same thing that cable TV provides, I'd buy cable TV. But this isn't about Netflix - they are just the first since they use so much bandwidth. Rather, it's about who gets to decide what is delivered to your computer at what speed. Today the argument is over Netflix. But tomorrow it could be CNN. Or Slashdot. Or YouTube. Or Facebook. It's bad for consumers because it will cost you more for the services you like and use and it discourages competition (just wait and see what "doesn't work" when Comcast decides they want to start a streaming video service).

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein