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Net Neutrality – If It Isn’t broken, don’t fix it! Part II   no comments

Jan 22, 2015 @ 7:18am Ask the Expert

netneutralityIf you haven’t read Part I you can do so at

Let’s touch on traffic prioritization.  What’s one of the easiest things to delay in order to prioritize other traffic?  Email.  After all, email doesn’t need to stream all at once like a song or a movie so it seems like the easiest thing to delay while prioritizing other traffic.  Now, suppose that email is queued up all day long until, say, 3am in the morning when traffic flow is at its lowest.  At 3am, these email servers begin sending all the emails they’ve queued up all day long.  No problem, right?  Heck, it’s only email.  Hmm, suppose you emailed that signed contract for the proposal and it had to be accepted by 5pm the day before but your email got queued up in order to make way for traffic that had been prioritized over the delivery of your email.  Are you beginning to see where this is going?

People have been using applications like twitter to instantly reach multiple people at the same time.  Suppose a town is under siege by a group that is trying to take over the town.  Suppose those town folks are alerting other family members and friends about the invading troops’ whereabouts so they can keep their loved ones out of harm’s way.  For the sake of argument, let’s say that twitter does not pay traffic carriers extra money to prioritize their traffic.  What happens now?  If your home is about to be invaded in five minutes and the message warning you of the impending invasion is not sent to you until 15 or 20 minutes later – it’s too late.  I know this is an extreme example but prioritizing traffic could actually become a matter of life and death.

President Obama embraced, almost exactly, the comments I posted on the FCC website concerning this matter.  In fact, what he is proposing is so close to my comments that I’m sure they must have been passed along to him.  In short, my comments were to keep internet traffic neutral – nobody’s traffic gets prioritized.  If you are a content provider and you want your traffic prioritized, then setup your own network and allow people to buy bandwidth directly from you and only your content is delivered over your private bandwidth.  The issue is though, it’s not the content providers who are causing the ruckus, it is the traffic carriers who have brought this whole issue about. 

Where President Obama strayed from my comments was in recommending that the internet become regulated as a utility such as the phone companies.  Let me just say this… “Dear God, save us all.”  I used to own a VoIP company and the myriad of taxes, fees and surcharges on phone service staggers the mind.  Do NOT let this happen to internet services.  Basically 31%-35% of your phone bill is comprised of taxes, fees and surcharges.  The FCC says that it wants to regulate Internet companies under Title II so they can control it.  I guess they (the FCC) hasn’t figured out that they already regulate the internet and VoIP – no Title II regulations are needed.

I say that the content providers should not be charged just because people want to download data from them.  The charge for providing end users for the bandwidth they need, should come from the traffic carrier.  This would be a good thing because once the price of a traffic carrier gets too high, someone will step in with a less costly way to provide bandwidth.  It’s called good old fashioned competition.  The traffic carriers want to make the content providers look like the bad guys.  And, as if that isn’t bad enough, the traffic carriers are already double-dipping on the profits.  Anyone who is younger than 35 or perhaps 40, may not remember the days of completely free TV.  TV was free because the networks made their money from the advertising space that they sold.  Then along comes cable companies that charge end users a monthly fee for TV shows AND they are collecting all the revenues from the advertisers – man, talk about a cash cow – they’re getting paid on both sides and now they want to charge content providers too?????  Are you serious??  And remember, the content providers are already paying their hosting company for all the bandwidth they need.  Why should they have to pay again?  The traffic carriers have oversubscribed their networks and that is a problem solely created and owned by the traffic carriers, and the content providers should not be held responsible for the traffic carriers problem.  Let me offer an analogy .  Let’s use a different scenario where there are three parties in the same roles:

  1. City water department – aka content provider (they provide water)
  2. Building contractor who builds houses on a huge tract of land she/he owns – aka traffic carrier
  3. End user – you and me who have bought homes from the building contractor

We purchased our homes and the contractor guarantees us 5 gallons per minute of water flow.  The contractor runs a six-inch main to serve the housing development.  The building contractor builds just enough homes so that the water flow to each house is 5 gallons per minute.  The problem is, the building contractor wants to make more money and so they overbuild the development and the water flow is now reduced to 2 gallons per minute just because there are too many homes using water at any given time.  So, the building contractor turns around and decides to charge the city water department a fee to prioritize water flow to certain homes, which of course will reduce water flow even further to homes that do not receive prioritized water flow.  The problem is not the city water department.  The city water department has more than enough capacity to serve all the homes in the development with 5 gallons per minute.  The problem is that the building contractor only put a six-inch main in and what is needed is a twentyfour-inch main.  This is not a home owner created problem nor is it a city water department created problem, the problem is the building contractor did not put in a large enough main pipe to feed all the customers.  And that is exactly what is happening with the flow of traffic on the internet.  The traffic carriers (building contractor) do not have the capacity to give the end users (home owners) all the bandwidth (water flow) that they guaranteed and the traffic carriers (building contractors) are turning around and charging the content providers (city water departments) a fee to prioritize their content (water flow).  The building contractors (traffic carriers) want to make the reduced water flow (bandwidth) appear to be a problem caused by the city water department (content provider).  And that is just not the case.

A peripheral but related issue here is the maddening amount of video and audio content that is displayed on websites.  How many times have you gone to a website and an advertisement begins to automatically play?  Also, how many times do you visit a site and want to read the story but there is no text, just a video?  That drives me nuts.  All I want to do is read the story, I do not want to watch a video.  Sorry, I’m going off on a tangent.

Let’s reiterate:

  1. Leave the internet as it is
  2. Do not regulate it like telephone companies are regulated unless you want to see prices increase due to fees, taxes and surcharges
  3. Leave the FCC in charge of the internet and VoIP

End of story, it truly IS that simple.

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Written by Dave on January 22nd, 2015

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