Net Neutrality

A lot has been going on about it, and I’ve declined to say much because, frankly, I don’t like any of my choices, and the situation is far more complex than a simple answer.

First of all, I’ve done enough network stuff to know that, at scale, you have to do QOS (quality of service) stuff to make sure critical voice (or other deemed critical) packets don’t disappear or get dropped when things get tight.Barring a vastly more capable backbone and capacity to the premises, there will always be some form of throttling in place.

You also have Netflix and streaming video tying down vast chunks of bandwidth. In fairness, a lot of that can be resolved by Netflix putting caches of their content in at major ISP’s so not as much of the traffic crosses through the backbones, but it still puts more of a stress in the last mile.

It would be nice to have cheap gig ethernet everywhere, but there are large areas that were already invested in having built out older technology where, barring replacing the hardware at the “local office” and in some cases the “last mile” of cable. And a lot of people – even in the states – forget how spread out we are.

And we have people who want flat-rate monthly payments, which means that you also get oversubscription.

The thing is – “net neutrality” is sold as “I paid for my packets, I don’t care where they came from”. Leaving aside that, again, this ignores backbones, routing, etc. – different packets cost your ISP different amounts depending on where they came from, and how many total are transferred to where – I can at least agree with this sentiment.

I also can agree with a sentiment that I shouldn’t be blocked from a site based on political leanings, or because the owners of a cable company want to push their own streaming service instead of Netflix. Instead of blocking, they should make their streaming better, etc. It’s cheaper for them than transferring what netflix has from a network perspective so if done well, can be subscribed to for less.

But in the end, if we truly believe “I paid for the packets”  then what we’ll have to get away from is flat rate pricing. Until then, we’re not paying for the data we’re receiving, except subsidizing it indirectly by flat rate pricing that typically doesn’t reflect usage so much as maximum throughput.

And in the meantime, having the government manage what can and cannot be done is not really any better than letting large corporations paying for regulatory capture and de-facto monopoly positions manage it. Competition most places is a joke – if you’re lucky you have a choice of the existing phone and cable companies (if you’re close enough to a local office to get anything, which rapidly becomes rare in more rural areas).

One thought on “Net Neutrality

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *