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HD Video Could 'Choke the Internet'? 629

Posted by Zonk
from the i-like-the-internet-breathing dept.
richdun writes "Yahoo! is carrying an AP story explaining how ISPs are worried large streaming videos could 'choke the Internet.' This is used as a yet another reason for tiered pricing for access to content providers." From the article: "Most home Internet use is in brief bursts -- an e-mail here, a Web page there. If people start watching streaming video like they watch TV -- for hours at a time -- that puts a strain on the Internet that it wasn't designed for, ISPs say, and beefing up the Internet's capacity to prevent that will be expensive. To offset that cost, ISPs want to start charging content providers to ensure delivery of large video files, for example."
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HD Video Could 'Choke the Internet'?

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  • What a load (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DurendalMac (736637) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:12PM (#15331723)
    Please. As if Bittorrent and P2P isn't already boosting internet traffic. Either people will watch the streaming downloads, or they'll download the movies another way. Looks like yet another cash grab.
    • by coolgeek (140561) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:16PM (#15331737) Homepage
      As if regular TV is going to be any match for all the porn traffic. Definitely a cash grab.
      • by gmezero (4448) on Monday May 15, 2006 @01:28AM (#15332666) Homepage
        That's the real problem. This notion of over selling bandwidth on the plan that people aren't going to use it anyways. Some ISPs have a horrific track record of doing this and it's inexcusable. If you're going to sell me 24/7, 6MB down/1MB up, then god damn it, I expect to get just that. If that's not what I'm getting then don't call it that, and don't promise it!
        • by ajs (35943) <ajs.ajs@com> on Monday May 15, 2006 @09:40AM (#15333930) Homepage Journal
          Time to issue the standard latency vs. bandwith missive, clearly.

          What ISPs are selling is latency. Watch the ads: "the page loads / game plays so fast!"

          They're not selling bandwidth, even though that's how they inaccurately measure their latency. If they were, then servers would not be an issue.

          All of that is moot, however, since there's simple math here:
          rate - usage*cost = margin
          That is, they are selling a service which costs them a certain amount, and they see some percentage usage. They then charge some rate and the delta between those is the profit margin for them. If you are arguing that they should raise the price and eliminate bandwidth concerns, then that's one thing, but if you are suggesting that they keep prices the same, then clearly they have to control one of usage, cost or margin.

          Margins in the ISP business right now aren't spectacular, but they're OK. ISPs certainly aren't looking ot LOWER them, so give up on that point. Then you have usage and cost. The cost is negotiated fairly strongly, but ultimately you have the same argument up-stream with backbones as you have between consumers and their ISPs. Then there's uage. Observe the current trend in attempting to manage usage.

          If you really want to be charged for a full 1.5, 3, 5 or whatever you have down, you're going to have to expect that prices will skyrocket! If that's what you want, then what's wrong with tiered service?

          From where I stand, the whole argument AGAINST tiered service is that the economies of scale in the averaged cost model favor a single tier of consumer service. Then again, I'm a Speakeasy customer now, so I've essentially opted for tiered service anyway by paying more than your average cable Internet user.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:41PM (#15331866)
      "Either people will watch the streaming downloads, or they'll download the movies another way. "

      Wow! Someone should invent a mass produced and mass marketed plastic disc that holds video and sound.
    • Re:What a load (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Gunny101 (894783) on Monday May 15, 2006 @02:39AM (#15332822)
      Not true. The people using Bittorrent, Usenet, etc... are usually more technically savvy users (1-2% of high speed users I think). If you take a lot of regular Joe blows who sit in front of their TVs for hours drinking beer and having him utilize his/her entire pipe, you'll have a huge problem.

      That being said, it's not THAT expensive to expand backbones. From what I remember when I worked at Nortel, plans were already underway to expand backbones dramatically before the .com burst. Quest was already testing multiple OC-768 (80Gbps) circuits then, and this was in 2001. They knew about the future of streaming video then as they do now, so it's time to get back to the original expansion and stop finding excuses to regulate traffic flow.

      • Re:What a load (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rufty_tufty (888596)
        I heard the same thing as well while working at nortel
        I got the impression they were saying this so people would believe it, so people would buy the equipment needed to light up that dark fibre (which Nortel did a very nice line in :-))

        when someone is telling you need something (which you will need because all your competitors will buy it, so why not be ahead of the game) then you have to take it with a pinch of salt when they are also selling it :->
    • Re:What a load (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Romancer (19668) <<romancer> <at> <deathsdoor.com>> on Monday May 15, 2006 @03:04AM (#15332870) Journal
      Uh...

      What's the big deal here?
      I pay a premium for my 3mb connection as compared with my parents getting the basic 256kb connection. There's not that much difference in basic web browsing, but when I'm downloading and uploading databases I am paying for the higher tier. I pay it, not the service providers, they have to pay for their outgoing bandwidth anyway. This isn't something new.

      I also run some websites, same deal there. I pay for the bandwidth and speed of my connection so people can get my page quickly and reliably. I pay a portion of the hosting companies fees for their fiber connection. That's the service they provide me, they have many levels.

      Everybody is paying for what they use right now.

      Google is paying for their bandwidth right?
      I am paying for my bandwidth right?

      We both have options on our connection speeds to get to each other right?

      I can go from dial up, to dsl, to cable, to high speed cable, to paying for a T1 to my home. I have all the options and Google has the same.

      Who are we paying if not the people who make up the infrastructure?
      I don't doubt that they have been making money off these monthly payments and they can keep on doing it all they want. Just don't put some sort of extortion tax on it to "make sure your data doesn't have an accident and not get there fast" That's mafia crap.

      Run fiber, research new data transfer tech, implement it, get paid.
      they're doing it now, just stick to that and don't get greedy.
    • by billstewart (78916) on Monday May 15, 2006 @03:29AM (#15332921) Journal
      The price of wholesale ISP transit connectivity has been in major free-fall for years, and nobody knows where the bottom is.


      The arguments about the cost of ISP (or university) upstream feeds for videos or other large files moved around by P2P can be taken care of by making sure the P2P users get most of their data from within the same ISP (or university.) Napster was able to do this early on when it started getting complaints from universities that had big fat LAN connections but relatively small outside connections, but it could do it because it had a relatively centralized database it could use to control neighbor connections, and of course preferring short ping times helped.

      BitTorrent doesn't really do that, but it does try to use faster connections when possible. This has somewhat the same effect, though it's much more pronounced for universities than for big ISPs, which have big fat fast pipes that are bigger than they want to pay for. Sounds like there's an obvious market for the telcos to pay Bram to tweak his algorithms some more...

      The other scalability tool, which can help for broadcast-style TV, is multicast. Most ISPs could just turn it on if they wanted, but they don't have a good business model for the stuff, much less one that supports peering multicast with other ISPs, and most of the obvious uses look like something that people would pay money for, so you mainly see it inside private networks. Think about the scalability of 10,000 households behind one small-medium telco office watching HDTV at primetime. That's about 9 Mbps per user, which is ok on the line side if you've got the right flavors of DSL, but that's almost 100 Gbps of upstream even though most of the people are watching the same thing. If the telco feeds a multicast down to their office, a Gig Ether can handle about 200 channels and then split it out to the individual subscribers. Sure, the telcos would like to control content so they can charge subscribers more money and compete against the cable TV companies, but a lot of the net neutrality nonsense has been because telco officials are doing the regulatory bonehead thing instead of talking about the real technical issues.

  • by Manip (656104) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:14PM (#15331731)
    I own a dedicated server and I have to pay per gig for bandwidth... So I have to ask how is this any different than what is already happening?

    Are they just asking for more per gig? Or are they asking for money to flow up a chain (from hosts to network operators)?

    • by Professr3 (670356) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:18PM (#15331756)
      No, I could understand paying per gig or meg (look at cellphone providers!). The problem is, they've said "Unlimited Bandwidth! High Speed DSL!!!" to get customers. Now that people are actually trying to use what they've bought, the ISPs are trying to back out of it.
    • by Alaren (682568) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:28PM (#15331805)

      This is a thinly-veiled shot at net neutrality, actually. The Internet was designed just fine--it's the ISP's business model that is suddenly in danger. You know, the model where they oversell their bandwidth by ridiculous margins. (One of the reasons I use Qwest DSL instead of Cable, actually--my connection is slower on paper, but I always have all of the bandwidth I'm paying for.)

      Now the ISPs are trying to play the "if we can't bill the content provider, we'll have to bill you" card. They want to win support for their ploy to double-dip on delivery charges. Outside the U.S., though, we see a number of countries with extremely high bandwidth available at extremely low cost. As it turns out, the same thing happens in the U.S. with municipal broadband... where state governments haven't outlawed it in favor of their campaign donors.

      Part of me hopes that some ISPs actually try to tier things out this way. I wonder how long it would take for them to lose all of their customers to a Google page reading, "your ISP is slowing down your connection in attempt to extort more money from you and from us."

      • by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xptical&gmail,com> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:48PM (#15331896) Homepage
        Here in Japan, the ISPs still oversell. But at least they give you the option of how much oversell you get screwed on.

        When you buy FTTH service from NTT, they have a high-speed and low-speed option. The HS option is twice the price. However, if you look at the systems, both give you 100mbps over single-mode fiber.

        What's the difference?

        Well, the HS option has 16 customers per DSLAM; the LS option has 32 per.

        As US customers become better educated about their line capabilities, expect more ISPs to cater to their needs. But, you better be prepared to pay for it.

        Electricity is metered. Water is metered. Hell, even my trash is metered. What makes you think bandwidth will be any different? People need to be prepared to pay, per MB or GB, if they want quality service.
        • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday May 15, 2006 @02:59AM (#15332858) Journal
          "Electricity is metered. Water is metered. Hell, even my trash is metered. What makes you think bandwidth will be any different? People need to be prepared to pay, per MB or GB, if they want quality service."

          Well, that's just the thing. They're not even trying to do that, they're trying to extort money out of Google and MS instead.

          See, it's one of those cases where everyone sold what they can't possibly deliver, and now they're tripping on each other's lies. Everyone promised "FREE UNLIMITED DSL!!!" based on the idea that, nah, you're not actually gonna use it. They figured that, yes, you're gonna see a web site or two, send a couple of emails, maybe even download a MB or two of short pixelated movies, but that on the whole you wouldn't actually _use_ 99.999% of that capacity.

          Unfortunately it turns out it's as unsustainable as promising "FREE UNLIMITED ELECTRICITY!!!" and thinking people won't use more of it.

          And the problem isn't just one of wishful thinking and creative marketting, but it's always been an outright lie. E.g., there was always some clause hidden in the fine print, or not even there, saying they can kick you out if you use "too much" of that "unlimited" thing you've bought. And for a while it worked to villify those who actually use the unlimited bandwidth they bought, and present them as some predators leeching off the rest of the society, because there were few of them, and everyone else didn't give a rat's arse.

          But now it's more and more of them, and there's increasing resistance to buying "FREE UNLIMITED DSL" and then being treated like some kind of heinous criminal if you actually use what you've bought. It worked when those "villains" were some lone nerds running a server at home, but it gets people writing to the relevant authorities when their mom gets mis-treated for spending too much time talking to them on VOIP. Or when they themselves get a nasty letter because little Billy played too much World Of Warcraft. (But more likely, they don't even know why. It just says you've used too much bandwidth.)

          No matter how you want to look at it, it's a scam. I'm not even opposed to mettered access as such, but I _am_ opposed to selling something and then villifying the people who use just what they've bought. If they sell something as unlimited, then it damn better be just that. It's like selling monthly bus cards on the explicit claim that you can ride the bus as often as you want to with that card, and then tarring and feathering some retired grandma for riding the bus 6 times a day instead of the 2 times a day your marketroids estimated when they priced that card. It's that sick and dishonest.

          And the problem is that now getting out of that losing proposition is a bit of a prisoner's dillema, except the losing move is to confess the truth. Anyone trying to sell a service honestly, a la "ok, guys, it costs X dollars per gigabyte" is losing their customers to those promising "FREE UNLIMITED DSL!!!"

          So now the plan is basically "I know!!! Google has money, right? Let's extort some protection money out of Google instead." The ISPs would now like to have their cake and eat it. They'd like to continue to scream "FREE UNLIMITED DSL!!!" all over the place, but be allowed to extort someone else to pay the bill. That's all.

          It's not even that Google's search even costs the ISPs that much bandwidth. FFS, it's a simple text page, with no graphics other than the "Gooooogle" letters. Even the Google ads are actually using _much_ less bandwidth than the more traditional ads, which in the meantime have inflated to be hideously huge animated popups or overlays. And certainly Google isn't responsible for P2P file swaps and P2P VOIP traffic.

          But Google has money, and the ISP would like to be legally allowed to extort some money from Google. And for that matter, from everyone else doing any business on the Internet.

          And the stupidity of it all is that all those sites already paid per gigabyte to their uplink. Having to pay extra so the users of some ISP can see your site -- or can see it without it taking 5 minutes to load -- is nothing short of extortion.
      • It's only the large, money hungry ISPs doing this. MOST of the ISPs I work with (I'm a board member of CISPA or California ISP Association which ever you prefer) don't like, nor will they practice this kind of crap.

        Personally, the way _I_ see it, I hope they do start doing this. Customers will get angry and find other providers that don't do this. Which means people will go to the better providers anyway.
      • by JoshuaJarman (974909) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @11:40PM (#15332325)
        Net Neutrality:

        The Economics:
        Myth: Companies should have to pay for the bandwidth they use.
        Facts:
        1. All companies already pay for the bandwidth they use.
        2. All consumers pay again for the bandwidth on the consuming end.
        3. Since consumers are paying for the bandwidth they use, they should be able to use it how they want.
        4. The telcos are charging at both ends of the same pipe, now they want to be able to charge a third time at an unlimited number of points in the middle.

        Bandwidth is already paid for on both the outgoing and consuming ends, and there are contractual agreements for each network segment the packets pass through on their way from point A to point B. All bandwidth is already paid for. The telcos are proposing to add a THIRD layer of charges onto the Internet, one they can control and manipulate at will and can charge whatever they want for. Even worse, if a packet crosses through 3 networks on its way from from Point A to Point B that would be 3 additional charges. As everyone knows, these charges will be passed directly onto the consumers in one form or another.

        Imagine the packet passes through 12 networks to reach you, if any one isn't being paid and blocks or degrades the packet YOU the consumer lose. There is no way to ensure that a packet gets priority unless the company is paying every single possible network that packet might pass through.

        Freedom and Censorship:
        Since companies would be controlling the flow of information through their networks based on how much they are being paid or any other uncontrolled criteria, they have great incentive to limit, or stop certain bits of information that is in conflict with their new data "Sponsors". Maybe you couldn't read a blog about lawysuits against the telco. Maybe you couldn't reach a news site that contained a story that exposed problems with a company that is paying the telco a lot of money. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

        China is a perfect example of a country that does not allow Net Neutrality.

        Net Neutrality is not only fair, and a key component in net freedom, it is the only model that will support innovation in a balanced way.

        Don't give the Telcos a license to rob us all blind and restrict our freedoms.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:15PM (#15331734)
    The internet was only designed for transmission of '0's and '1's, but HD video uses a lot of '2's.
  • by Malor (3658) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:15PM (#15331736) Journal
    This is preaching to the choir, but bits is bits.

    What the providers really fear is that people will actually start using what they've been told they already have.

    They've got giant pipes running into everyone's houses, and business models predicated on the fact that most people don't use them. So they tell everyone 'unlimited bandwidth!' when in fact they cannot provide this.

    The tiered-internet thing is just a way to punish the people who actually use the bandwidth they were already sold. And an attempt to enact a tax on those who dare to actually provide data that's interesting enough that lots of their customers want it, all at the same time.
    • "No Shit".

      Though to be honest I don't see of the appeal of HD over the net. It's the same bullshit video tape of a monkey falling out of a tree or something, just now it's got 16 times the pixels.

      ooooh boy.

      Tom

    • What the providers really fear is that people will actually start using what they've been told they already have.

      They've got giant pipes running into everyone's houses, and business models predicated on the fact that most people don't use them. So they tell everyone 'unlimited bandwidth!' when in fact they cannot provide this.


      You know, when I really think of it, I don't really remember any broadband ISP claiming unlimited bandwidth, but "always on" as in no need to wait for a dial-in.

      I will say that I don't
    • "What the providers really fear is that people will actually start using what they've been told they already have."

      Yes and no. Yes they have been told they have 6Mbps or whatever of "on all the time" Internet access. This advertising is basically true given certain assumptions about customer behavior. When that drastically changes, it changes the product (service). The FA uses the phone line analogy. Do you think if all of the sudden everyone wanted to use the phone ALL THE TIME they would expect it to
  • Dear ISP (Score:5, Funny)

    by syousef (465911) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:16PM (#15331739) Journal
    Thank you for your concern. I'll risk it. Please remove your greedy paws from my content provider's pocket.

    Disgustedly yours,

    Cash cow 9463450.
  • by Tontoman (737489) * on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:18PM (#15331750)
    There is already so much Dark fiber [wikipedia.org] overcapacity that I think the ISP could easily supply bandwidth to grow with the demand.
  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:18PM (#15331752)
    It's quite suprising that the current traffic fits down the wires we have. Billions of Joe Six packs watching video is obviously going to be an issue. Problem though is that internet costs (to the user) are too low, and there's not a lot of money to be made from providing bandwidth so there's very little motivation to improve the situation.

    Roads essentially have, or have had, the same issues. These are funded by state/federal taxes and/or toll roads or some other per-use charges. Perhaps a model like this could work for the internet too.

    • Problem though is that internet costs (to the user) are too low, and there's not a lot of money to be made from providing bandwidth so there's very little motivation to improve the situation.

      No, the problem is that bandwidth to the home is a natural monopoly, so it has been taken over by the greedy, lazy telco and cable companies who expect to charge more and more for the same old service every year. Had it been up to them, modems would still not be allowed on phone lines at all, "how dare you invade our

    • If the government were to provide internet bandwidth directly, they'd feel justified in censoring it ("I don't want my tax dollars going to no pornography or nuthin"), and there would be no competition to curtail that.
    • It's quite suprising that the current traffic fits down the wires we have. Billions of Joe Six packs watching video is obviously going to be an issue. Problem though is that internet costs (to the user) are too low, and there's not a lot of money to be made from providing bandwidth so there's very little motivation to improve the situation.

      Roads essentially have, or have had, the same issues. These are funded by state/federal taxes and/or toll roads or some other per-use charges. Perhaps a model like this c
  • So wait.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:18PM (#15331753) Homepage Journal
    So, the bandwidth providers have finally found an actual reason for wanting to charge content owners for content delivery to the consumer. They still have not figured out that the people who should be paying for more bandwidth are the consumers.

    Either way--and I say this all the time when someone raises the issue of network neutrality--the Internet was designed to route around troubled, undesirable routes; should bandwidth providers choose to raise the cost of their lines, the Internet will simply route around them. It's as simple as that.
    • Re:So wait.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @10:31PM (#15332084)
      Old people are so cute when they talk about the Internet- they still think it has the same distributed network topology as it did last century. Yes, the Internet routes around damage. But this isn't going to be the Internet anymore, pal. They're talking about running heart monitors on this thing. You can't do that on the Internet as designed- you have to fuck it up and turn it into something else that doesn't behave like the Internet at all. If you don't like it you're free to take your servers and RFCs elsewhere and form your own network using no corporate fiber resources of any kind. But you shouldn't have to do it. Through corporate subsidies, your tax money has partially gone into creating this Internet, and it's about to be lost in a massive giveaway with no public discussion at all. In fact, so far the only corporate contribution to the debate has been a carefully crafted astroturf campaign [mydd.com] that tries to confuse everybody about who is on which side of the issue. The astroturf campaign's tag line is "don't regulate the Internet"- in other words, don't reintroduce net neutrality via statute, now that a regulatory agency has destroyed it as a corporate favor to the telecommunications industry with unknown long-term repurcussions.

      Nowadays the telcos control all the backbones and are in a good position to turn this whole thing into a pay-per-view monstrosity. The Bush FCC issued a horrible decision a year or two ago that would basically make this legal, by removing enforcement of the rules regarding net neutrality that have been governing the development of the Internet for decades. (Rules that you are taking for granted in your post.) The Supreme Court affirmed the legality of the FCC decision. What will be the effects? No one knows. The telcos haven't acted on it yet. They have announced ambitious business plans to convert the Internet into something resembling cable TV. But since fucking up the Internet apparently involves a huge capital outlay, they will only do it if they have a guarantee that the net neutrality rules will stay gone. Otherwise they might enounter regulatory resistance as they start to screw it up and millions of people start complaining.

      So that's why we have a bill winding through Congress right now that will provide this guarantee to the telcommunications industry, banning the net neutrality rule forever, and leaving them free to fuck with the Internet as it exists without exposure to regulatory risk. It's going to be their little plaything to do with as they wish- the public subsidies that went into it for decades nonwithstanding. That's why you're hearing about this all of a sudden. This isn't something that "can just be routed around"- the way routing is done is about to change.
  • Balance (Score:2, Interesting)

    Maybe I'm just silly, but I'd think that this would have a sort of self-limiting effect, much like supply and demand in economic markets. My logic is that as HD video slows down the internet, the incentive to use the internet to watch this kind of stuff will diminish, thus alleviating the pressure. This balance between availability of bandwidth and demand for it, expressed as "cost," or rather, speed of downloads, would make the problem disappear by forcing usage to level out at a point acceptable to all.
  • Back stepping (Score:4, Insightful)

    by qwp (694253) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:20PM (#15331763) Homepage Journal
    So, The large corporations are now backstepping. Wait
    when we ran all of those small companies out of business by
    undercutting them and promising the world (and providing something much less) we were actually ruining another business model?

    They are in year long contracts now with people who had a expectation of a service. Since most isp's haven't constantly been upgrading capacity as their client base grows, there is going to be a huge thunk when people realize
    that there has been a lot of pocketing profits. Profits that should have gone
    into improving the network.

    The thunk is comming
  • Multicast? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:22PM (#15331766)
    Wasn't multicast (http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps6552/produc ts_ios_technology_home.html [cisco.com]) supposed to take care of this?
    • No kidding. It seems like such a useful technology yet no-one seems to be putting it to use.
    • Re:Multicast? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Crizp (216129) <chris@eveley.net> on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:38PM (#15331860) Homepage
      That's something I've been wondering for years. Not having the knowledge neccessary I still ask: What is the reason anyone and their mother can't set up a multicast audio/video stream? I mean stuff like a 128Kb MP3 stream internet radio station without sucking (128 x N users) Kb in bandwidth?
      • by Inoshiro (71693) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @10:33PM (#15332094) Homepage
        Unlike TCP, where the end-points do all the thinking, multicast requires that the routers are involved in the transactions. They are the ones who have to make decisions like, "does this address get bits, or not?"

        The session management protocols of multicast are defined, but there are a few to choose some, and most have some kind of serious drawback associated with them. One of the ones that sticks out in my mind is the one where there's no way to "detect" if a multicast IP is taken, or any more security/authentication than knowing what the address is.

        To properly support multicast, we need a session leader, and every router involved in the minimum-cost spanning tree must also know who else is involved. This means the routers have to be able to build the tree, and tear it down as clients join and leave.

        Replacing or upgrading routers is hard because a lot of them are fire and forget. They'll place a router in a wall with PoE, and then leave it inside. They'll be on the bottom of the ocean, repeating traffic that goes along a trans-oceanic link. They'll be on top of wireless towers, miles from other people. Most of them were not designed to be remotely upgradable via software, because routers were always meant to be as cheap to produce as possible.

        This is also who IPv6 is only really deployed in places where IP space ran out a long time ago (such as Japan). Until it really starts to break, traditional structure will be "good enough" for most people.
    • Re:Multicast? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mitaphane (96828) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @10:20PM (#15332038) Homepage
      I'm no expert on computer networking, I've taken one class, but I would say overhead. IP multicasting is out there for LAN usage(it involves assigning a specific type of IP address [wikipedia.org]. But once you leave the realm of LANs onto an internet, the problem is vastly greater. To quote wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      "The IP Multicast model requires a great deal more state inside the network than the IP unicast model of best-effort delivery does, and this has been the cause of some criticism. Also, no mechanism has yet been demonstrated that would allow the IP Multicast model to scale to millions of senders and millions of multicast groups and, thus, it is not yet possible to make fully-general multicast applications practical in the commercial Internet. As of 2003, most efforts at scaling multicast up to large networks have concentrated on the simpler case of single-source multicast, which seems to be more computationally tractable."

      • Re:Multicast? (Score:3, Informative)

        by mbone (558574)
        True and not true.

        Multicast has developed to the point where there is little doubt that one service model, Single Source Multicast (SSM, explained further at the Multicast FAQ file [multicasttech.com]) could serve unlimited numbers of receivers with a stream, even in the commodity Internet. And Multicast is powering most new IPTV deployments - see the U Wisconsin DATN [wisc.edu] for a cool example. BUT, content providers do not want to supply their content with global SSM multicast, and there is no strong demand yet for sourcing niche
  • What about all that dark fiber that was laid during the Internet glory days before the stock market went kaboom?
  • one word ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zbaron (649094)
    multicast. Why oh why don't more ISPs support multicast?
  • Where I work.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by dadragon (177695) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:24PM (#15331778) Homepage
    Where I work, which is a Canadian telco and ISP, we're doing a major infrastructure upgrade to transmit HD media over our backbone to our DSL subscribers to get IPTV. In October the system is supposed to go live, with 40 meg streams to the house, with a future of 120 meg, and then on to fibre. Quit bitching and develop the infrastructure. It's going to happen sometime anyway.
  • I agree HDTV on the wire could be a serious problem. But, what I've seen from Comcast (my only experience so far) it appears they're introducing extra compression, and the HDTV of a friend gives a status showing a transfer rate of 6MBs. But, this article [merl.com] shows HDTV needing aroudn 20MBs for streaming. To move to a world of on-demand HDTV for the masses would seem to (as they're claiming) require not only some prioritization of the network, but I would think it would also require a more capable internet, i

  • That is, on the ISPs' customer side business, there are different speeds you could connect to the internet, from dial-up to DSL, from Cable to the Tx connections. If a user wants to be streaming big media in a constant stream over their cable lines, they could subscribe to a more expensive, higher speed connection. And the ISPs need to keep upgrading their bandwidth to allow for these people who want access to streaming big media.

    This "choking the internet" complaint seems to be a cop-out for the laziness of the ISPs toward getting off their butts and really competing to bring a smooth connection to its subscribers.
    • by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @10:34PM (#15332097)

      This "choking the internet" complaint seems to be a cop-out for the laziness of the ISPs toward getting off their butts and really competing to bring a smooth connection to its subscribers.


      Yes, by all means, conduct an ad hominem attack on the ISPs rather than considering that this could possible be a difficult problem. Do you have any concept of how difficult it is to design and engineer a network that can handle all of that data and provide a high level of service to all of the end nodes? Then we have to include the cost of the equipment and maintenance, and factor in the time it takes to actually build the thing.

      Consider this scenario... A pair of high-rise apartment buildings go up right next to each other. Each one has 15 apartments per floor and is 15 floors high. This is 225 units per building, and with 2 buildings brings it to 450 units. Now if each unit actually wants 10 Mbps so they can download HD video in a reasonable amount of time, this means that one area needs 2.25 Gbps of bandwidth.

      Sure, this is reasonable for a local area network, but this isn't a LAN. Maybe all of the users are hitting the same server, but requesting different files. Since they are different files we can't cache locally, and we need every link (and router and switch), capable of handling that 2.25 Gbps. This is in addition to any other traffic that might be travelling those links or routers. Multiply this by all of the apartment buildings/condos/homes in a small city and you can see the problem.

      High-performance networks that can handle all of these things are an active research area because we don't have any good solutions. You can't just magically add another switch to upgrade your service. This is a local solution and doesn't address the entire network, or even the network core. More bandwidth in fiber doesn't solve the problem, it just moves it to the switching/router space. We have a lot of different techniques to help switching, such as optical burst switching, but they are still difficult. For example, in OBS how long do you wait to aggregate the different packets? Too short a time and it isn't efficient enough, too long and the inter-packet delay is too high for real-time audio or video. If you set different time limits based on application type you add the overhead of examining the packets to determine what it is.

      So before you accuse the ISPs of being lazy, why don't you come up with a solution that scales globally and doesn't cost a trillion dollars and take 50 years to deploy.
  • ...proclaiming what could "kill" the Internet... sigh.

    From TFA: "The solution, of course, is to make the pipes connecting to the Internet fatter."

    No, no, no. The solution is solid multicasting. So what if everyone is watching American Idol and Survivor and Lost and whatever other crap is on TV at once. Content should be limited by the pipe/hardware itself (something that's measurable and predictable), not the erratic behavior of customer.
  • by postbigbang (761081) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:25PM (#15331789)
    Think of local cacheing farms. You can download the content, then when it's time to broadcast, it emerges from a local/home cache to be played.

    Otherwise, there just isn't a way to do IPTV unless broadcasters (think the guys with antennas) figure out an alternate method.

    The backpressure put on the Internet will one day be able to handle it. But until multiple lambda inter-regional distribution networks using SDH or equivalent methods become available, even OC192 becomes a bottleneck.

    Think regional cache. Google, RU listening???
  • So what you see on TV is 25 megabits per second - yeah that would put a crimp on things since most ISP's in the US suck - but its really not that much bandwidth.
    • 25mbit x 50-100 users on a local hub == lots.

      Also TV is not 25mbit/sec. normal TV is more like 2-4mbit [at most]. What NTSC digital subscribers get is more like 2mbit/sec MPEG-1 (it's compariable to what I can encode with tools locally in quality).

      HD on the otherhand is ~19-20Mbit/sec.

      Anynways, is Raymond or survivor in quad-fi super-HD really that much better?

      Tom
  • by Null Nihils (965047) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:28PM (#15331807) Journal
    As someone who is well informed as to how the Internet operates, I'm not even going to bother yelling "bullshit!" It's obvious. I'm sure there will be a hundred posts here going into great detail as to why this latest little ploy the telcos are trying is based on flawed logic.

    The real issue is that these big companies will be whispering these ideas to the politicians, who of course have no clue about how the Internet works.

    Even non-US citizens should bring this issue up with their government representative and inform about the real facts, and what your views as a voting citizen are. Make insistent phone-calls. Mail well-worded letters.

    And something anyone can do instead of talking about the Net Neutrality issue to their fellow nerds, is bring the issue to the non-tech public. Tell the E-mailing Moms and Pops what could happen when they try to download photos their family members have sent, tell the teenagers what could happen to their MySpace access or their Skype connection.

    The future of the Internet is at stake, dammit, and no citizen of any country is safe until we have widely recognized, firm laws that make sure the public, global Internet belongs to the people and their free speech!
  • by LightStruk (228264) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:29PM (#15331812)
    What the telcos don't want you to realize is that they are already paid for the use of their wires on a per-packet basis by the owners of the routers that connect to them! Everybody but the consumer pays for the bandwidth they actually use. Today, if an ISP starts sucking down lots of bandwidth because its customers are watching HD TV, the ISP has to shoulder the larger bandwidth bill from the telco. They then pass the costs along to the customers who are using the most bandwidth.

    Google and Joe Webclicker are NOT the telcos' customers! They already pay their ISPs for service. Nobody is getting a free ride.

    The market should drive this process! ISPs that want more bandwidth (so they can deliver hi-def video to their customers) will look for the most bandwidth at the lowest price, and the backbones compete to upgrade their networks so that those ISPs sign up with them.

    Why won't anyone stand up in Congress and say, "but Mr. Verizon, Mr. AT&T, aren't you just trying to charge twice for the same service?"
    • >Why won't anyone stand up in Congress and say, "but Mr. Verizon,
      > Mr. AT&T, aren't you just trying to charge twice for the same
      > service?"

      Because Verizon and AT&T's lobbyists pay the people in congress to not stand up and ask the question, thats why...

      Maybe its time for open source/open moderated politics as well..the current system seems rather too...proprietary...
      • by gkuz (706134) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @11:56PM (#15332384)
        Maybe its time for open source/open moderated politics as well

        Run for office. If you're in the US, the barriers to entry are surprisingly low.

        All these people who bitch about corporate control of government are starting to piss me off. How many city council budget hearings do you attend? Zoning board reviews? School board meetings? How often do you write a letter (you know, ink-on-paper, in an envelope, with a first-class stamp) to any of your elected representatives? How many of your elected representatives can you name?

        Not singling you out personally, just a good place to interject this. The process is *way* more open than most /.ers assume, it's just that people are too lazy to do anything at all.

  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:30PM (#15331813) Homepage
    Let's start by acknowledging the truth of one basic issue: most Internet users demand far more bandwidth than they once did, and the amount of bandwidth they demand will only rise as video becomes a greater part of the Internet experience. Ten years ago, the Internet was all about low-bandwidth applications like chat and email. Five years ago, bandwidth needs went up as people started downloading MP3s. And now bandwidth demand is surging again with video.

    On the other side of things, cost per gigabyte of bandwidth has dropped markedly and will continue to fall.

    But in the short to mid-term, perhaps a case can be made that consumer demand for bandwidth will reach levels that current subscription fees can't cover. This is a reasonable argument, but there's nothing to this argument that requires these costs be offset by content providers.

    Right now I'm getting about a half a MB a second over my cable modem. Maybe it will turn out that there are HD audio applications I really want, that will require greater bandwidth. Fine. I'm the one consuming this bandwidth. So let me shop around and find the cheapest provider of super-broadband.

    But there's nothing in this article, and no argument I've yet seen, that gives any clear reason why content providers ought to be the one ponying up to cover these extra bandwidth costs. This whole argument is being made by large incumbent ISPs who are looking to extort content providers. It has nothing to do with charging people for what they consume. Those costs have traditionally be borne by Internet users, and they should continue to be.

    If I find out that my ISP is charging content providers a toll to reach me, I'll immediately do everything possible to change ISPs.

    On another matter, it's telling that this article quotes nobody who says that this is a bad faith argument. The reporting in this article is either inept or corrupt.

  • Funny that caching wasn't mentioned at all in TFA. It'd be good to see more use of BitTorrent at the ISP level to distribute videos around. That way, you could stream with high reliability from your ISP and they only pay for the download once.

    Obviously they can't do this with illegal content, but there's plenty of scope to get everyone else on board - from the TV networks to San Fernando's finest!

  • Invalid Complaint (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ewhac (5844) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:34PM (#15331833) Homepage Journal
    Boo fscking hoo.

    Let's review: The ILECs have been salivating for decades over the idea of becoming "cable companies," and distributing television content over the telephone infrastructure. (They wanted to be able to force customers to go only to their servers, but Judge Harold Greene said, "No, you don't get to control both content and carriage, because you'll abuse that position.") For the past several decades, it has been no secret just how much bandwidth video broadcasting requires, even with compression. It has also been no secret that the broadcasting industry has been moving in fits and starts toward hi-def.

    Now here we are on the eve of large-scale HD rollout, and the ILECs are whining that the network backbone may not be able to handle the load. Well, kee-ryst on toast, what the fsck have you been doing the last twenty years? You knew Internet "television" was coming, you knew hi-def was coming, you knew it was going to be a bandwidth hog, you had at least twenty years warning, and you're telling us with a straight face that you didn't prepare for it??

    And by the way, who else here is old enough to remember a few years ago when the same ILECs were complaining that all those modem users phoning ISPs were overloading their switches, and wanted to start charging a premium for data calls? My response then was as it is now: Why the hell aren't you building out your network?

    Sympathy factor zero, Captain. You either get to work and build out the network like you were supposed to be doing, or stand aside and let the CableCos eat your lunch.

    Schwab

  • The obvious solution is to charge content providers for bandwidth utilization.

    So, for example, a streaming content company can pay ISPs for their high-bandwidth utilization. Those that refuse to pay this nominal fee can still stream their content, but at perhaps a more reasonable 56 kbit/sec using a sanctioned proprietary protocol.

    This way access can remain open to all, but the truly awesome Verizon-quality HD video will be available to all for just a small additional monthly fee!

    [/sarcasm]
  • What is this entity "Internet" that will choke? Where is it, is it a computer?

    That statement is a nonsense, looks more like ISP-s running away freaked out that people will start using what they've been sold.

    Before "Internet" is choked, the service provider's servers will choke. To which the provider will either adapt or stop providing the service as simple as that.

    But reading further reveals that it's just Yet Another Excuse (tm) for the ISP-s to charge providers, which I believe all providers and Internet
  • RTFAing ...

    Most home Internet use is in brief bursts -- an e-mail here, a Web page there. If people start watching streaming video like they watch TV -- for hours at a time -- that puts a strain on the Internet that it wasn't designed for, ISPs say, and beefing up the Internet's capacity to prevent that will be expensive.

    To offset that cost, ISPs want to start charging content providers to ensure delivery of large video files, for example.

    No... they should be charging their own customers. The conten

  • by Spit (23158) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:45PM (#15331882)
    Perhaps, but HD video will certainly cause a few slashdotters to 'choke the chicken.'
  • by papasui (567265) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @09:52PM (#15331913) Homepage
    I'm a Network Engineer for a major US cable company and for about 15 months or so we've been moving our HD streams as IP multicast across our internal fiber network. It's not really that much bandwidth internally to our facilities, about 30 Mbit per channel. Once it reaches our facilities it's converted to QAM and can be streamed across the RF cable plant. Where this could/will pose a problem is for network rider services (ala Vonage) where this traffic needs to cross the egress POP. Anyone involved with carrier level services is well aware that bandwidth is oversold. It has to be due to the insane prices an OC-48 costs. It relies on the assumptions that 1.) Maybe 20-50% of your users will be using the service at any given time. 2.) Even if 100% of your user base is using the service they aren't all using the maximum speed available (ie web browsing versus running Bittorrent). So to sum up, yeah it's not a big deal for a few people to stream HD at 6~10Mbit through an egress point however if a killer service takes off and everybody starts using it in this way it could seriously impact service. In fact it could force a paradigm shift in the industry.
  • by viking2000 (954894) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @10:01PM (#15331949)
    First, the fiber network that was laid out during the .com boom globally by companies like global crossing currently contains a lot of dark fiber. So that part is cheap.

    The capacity of a fiber is easily 10Gb/s per color times 125 colors or 1Tb/s, and a cable is easily 700 fibers, so a total of 1Eb/s. Order of magnitude less for ocean fibers.

    *Very* HD is 20Mb/s, so a cable will handle 50 million channels.

    Cisco's high end router handles up to 70Tb/s.

    Lets take the olympics as a scenario:

    You are broadcasting 500 concurrent HD channels at 20Mb/s each channel. This is 10Gb/s.

    This fills less than 1% of one fiber in the cable.

    Now, Every family member in the house watch their own event, so this is 100Mb/s

    The Router handles 70Tb/s, so one router supports 700,000 households. So you need 1 router for Seattle, 1 for London etc.

    The only clamp on this whole thing is all the ISP whining about problems and clamping down on bandwidth to try to maximize their revenue.

    Like DeBeers and diamonds, it is actually a bandwidth glut, and the ISP's are creating an artificially high price for it by limiting supply.
  • by tehwebguy (860335) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @10:17PM (#15332018) Homepage
    guys this isn't what the isp's designed the internet for.

    if you upgrade to internet 2.0 for 39.99 extra per month you'll be able to do it.
  • ...ISPs want to start charging content providers to ensure delivery of large video files...

    "Say there, Mister Content Provider, that's sure a nice video you tryin' to send. Be a shame if anything was to, you know, happen to it...

  • by jfeldt (967756) on Sunday May 14, 2006 @11:18PM (#15332251)
    Only Chuck Norris could "choke the internet".
  • by PGillingwater (72739) on Monday May 15, 2006 @04:18AM (#15332995) Homepage
    I was discussing this with a colleague, who insisted it could be done by combining streaming protocols with a swarming protocol like BitTorrent. I was skeptical, and pointed to the lack of success of multicast protocols as indicative that the technology to stream to large numbers of consumers already existed, but wasn't supported by the ISPs or by client software.

    After thinking about it, I realized he was right. Multicasting will never work due to apathy of the ISPs, so it will have to be built into the application. Take a HD stream, and introduce a fixed delay that would be acceptable to consumers -- such as 10 minutes. Begin a swarming protocol like BitTorrent, but with a statistical weighting so that packets near the beginning of the stream earn a higher priority than those near the end (of the 10 minute window.)

    In theory (according to some back of the envelope queueing theory calculations), it should be possible to ensure that 97% of the packets are there within 10 minutes with an average swarm size and typical xDSL bandwidth -- and if you're running a lossy protocol based on UDP, it won't matter too much about the occasional artefact occurring in the stream if the client player interpolates well.

    The benefits of this approach for media providers is if they use a signing system with closed source client (both for Windows and Linux), then they could introduce non-skippable adverts and limited DRM, whilst also saving hugely on bandwidth by leveraging from BitTorrent's advantages.

    I hereby release the above idea into the Public Domain, but retain the right to be credited as its originator (unless someone can demonstrate prior art.)
  • by Jeppe Salvesen (101622) on Monday May 15, 2006 @10:17AM (#15334220)
    If the ISPs are worried about streaming, then they should flag the need for a media proxy solution. Certain shows are popular and will amount to a big percentage of the traffic. If they ISP stuck a smart media proxy that knows what most customers watch in between the customers and the backbone, then the customers would not choke the internet.

    Problem managed!

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