Monday, June 12, 2006

Still harping on about Net neutrality

Once again the politicians have turned a very simple concept into one so complex and mangled it is hard to figure out what the hell anyone is voting for or against.

It is clear tho that whatever side AT&T, Verison, etc is backing, is bad news for everyone except AT&T, Verison etc.

The two sides have created their own spins on the basic definition of 'Net neutrality', neutrality to AT&T means that the government keeps their fingers out of the pie and lets AT&T charge whatever they like for whatever service they wish to provide. This effectively produces a tiered internet. They can opt to prioritize traffic. If Google opts to pay a premium to AT&T, At&T will prioritize Google traffic over lets say Yahoo traffic. This is bad for the consumer, it goes against the grain of what the internet was designed for.

I read a delightful 'take' on this today. I would give credit, but alas I cannot remember the web site. Anyway, the story went like this......

You want a pizza, and you have the number of Joes' Pizza, its a small family operated business based in your local strip mall. You call the number... Ring Ring..... Then hear a recording, "Your call to Joes Pizza will take approximately 5 mins to complete, if you press 1 we can connect you to Boston Pizza right away".

Now none of us would like it if the phone company did that! If we want Joes pizza, we expect the phone company to give us the same priority as they would give us if we were calling Boston Pizza, or anyone else.

In the communications industry this is known as being a "Common Carrier", you merely carry the traffic, you do not make any attempt to prioritize it. Fred call to his girlfriend is just as important as Joes call to his bank, or cindy's call to Wal Mart. No one gets more priority than anyone else.

I think it is vital that the internet backbone remain in 'common carrier' mode.

On the rare occasions that one of the AT&T people speak using English their argument is usually about how the rapid growth of the internet is putting strain on the backbone infrastructure, and there is a need to fund enhancement of the big pipes that carry this traffic.

This is a load of phoey! If you go playing in the world of Telcom you will discover that in the late 80's and early 90's the telcoms laid a whole lot of fiber optic cable. Most of which has never been used. Try a google search on "dark fiber". It is everywhere! The infrastructure exists, they just have to start using it!

On a lighter note, maybe if AT&T were not so busy building funky little rooms in their facilities and splitting the fiber so that copies of all internet backbone traffic went into these funky little rooms maybe they could spare some manpower to turn on the 'dark fiber'. If you have been living in Outer Mongolia and do not understand that last comment chack out www.eff.org , and read EFF v AT&T.

Ok, nuf of ranting for today.

1 comment:

Jim Lippard said...

One small catch--the backbones aren't common carriers. The cable companies aren't common carriers. Only the telcos are common carriers, and that's only with respect to physical layer interconnection, not Internet network interconnection.

Also, there is priority on calls in the telephone system, imposed by the government--it's called GETS, Government Emergency Telecommunications Service. There's also TSP, Telecommunications Service Priority, which gives important infrastructure players top priority on provisioning and repairs.

Further, there is already priority within backbone networks that do things like carry VoIP traffic, to ensure that calls don't get dropped in conditions of network congestion.

I've discussed a lot of these issues on my blog...