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Networking The Internet

A Case for Non-Net-Neutrality 345

Posted by Zonk
from the i-like-my-internets-biased dept.
boyko.at.netqos writes "Network Performance Daily has an in-depth interview with Professor Christopher Yoo from Vanderbilt University Law School on his opposition to Net-Neutrality policies. While some might disagree with his opinions, he lays out the case for non-neutrality in an informed and informative manner. From the interview: 'Akamai is able to provide service with lower latency and higher quality service, because they distribute the content. This provides greater protection against DoS attacks. It's a local storage solution instead of creating additional bandwidth, and it's a really interesting solution. Here's the rub ... Akamai is a commercial service and is only available to people who are willing to pay for it. If CNN.com pays for it, and MSNBC.com does not, CNN.com will get better service.'"
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A Case for Non-Net-Neutrality

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  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Friday January 05, 2007 @05:51PM (#17480962) Journal
    I can't read the site because it's loading sooooooooooooooooooo damn slow. Oddly enough, cnn.com and msn.com load instantly. So, unfortunately, I can't read his defense of net non-neutrality. I guess I'll just check out some of these shopping links instead.
    • Re:Can't access (Score:4, Informative)

      by IcyNeko (891749) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:07PM (#17481280) Journal
      Isn't the guy who defended Senator "It's a series of tubes" Ted Stevens also from Vanderbilt? I think that university needsd to stop hiring idiots to teach.
    • Re:Can't access (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ShimmyShimmy (692324) <bplennon@gma i l . com> on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:10PM (#17481324) Homepage Journal
      Such a shame. Maybe if you're lucky, your ISP will offer an "upgraded" service to its end users, to get guaranteed fast access to sites that won't pay them. Let the free market reign!
    • A university (school of law) professor; knowledgeable on, "technological innovation and economic theories of imperfect competition transforming the regulation of electronic communications" or pseudo-professional marketeer platform supporting corporate-welfare-state values [AKA: FUCK THE PUBLIC]. I would break down the above quoted statement, but that would lend credence to obvious bullshit meant for politician consumption. I am sure the professor's comments will be endlessly quoted, referenced, and used in many presidential/congressional/senatorial/FCC/... reports and white-papers to justify voting for special corporate interest laws/bills that destroy democracy and capitalism.

      Everyone/Biz (I know) already pays for bandwidth, quality of service, and NetNutrality as a required public utility. If a Biz or Gov wants a private service, then they should pay for it and the infrastructure involved. To treat the Internet/infrastructure as a private-rights utility is NetNepotism and anti-competitive corporatism [AKA: totalitarian welfare].

  • invalid analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 05, 2007 @05:51PM (#17480970)
    Akamai is a distributed hosting service, not a common carrier.

    This guy is seriously a professor?
    • Although the article is timing out for me, it seems like he's using it as an example of how the principle of non-neutrality is a boon, and should be applied to common carriers (which is, of course, currently and ab initio prohibited by law, pending repeal).
    • Re:invalid analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:00PM (#17481138)
      Akamai is a distributed hosting service, not a common carrier.

      This guy is seriously a professor?


      He is a law professor that's an opponent of neutrality. Whether his distortions of the technology are because he knows the law better than the technology, or because he is expounding an ideologically-based viewpoint and trying to snow people over with FUD, or because of some other reasons is, I suppose, something you'll need to form your own opinion about.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rho (6063)

        If you shut this guy down for talking outside his area of expertise using ideology to make his judgments, then you'd better get cracking on shutting Slashdot down.

    • Re:invalid analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:08PM (#17481300) Homepage
      Yeah, did he consider what would happen to Akamai if it were not operating on a neutral internet?

      Service that efficiently utilizes a neutral internet, allowing other similar services to exist: Good.
      Changing the internet to give favor certain services at the expense of all others: Bad.

    • by Bent Mind (853241)
      Akamai is a commercial service and is only available to people who are willing to pay for it. If CNN.com pays for it, and MSNBC.com does not, CNN.com will get better service.

      I'm confused by this. If CNN.com pays for some of Akamai's bandwidth, they have that much more bandwidth. If I pay a hosting site to put pictures on the net, I have that much more bandwidth. Now, does that mean that CNN's service will be slower if my hosting company doesn't provide them with bandwidth as well? No. The analogy is not
    • Admittedly most of the common carriers you think about HAVE monopolies, but that's not the point.

      I'm definitely for Net Neutrality - AND I'm moderately libertarian. But if you're going to HAVE a government issued monopoly - like EVERY DSL and Cable company does - then they need to be regulated to be fair about what they carry.

      This is NOT about someone paying for their service to be extra fast. This is about forcible bundling by monopolies. This is about a company like AT&T deciding that they want to offer a movie download service and everyone else's is going to take 1000x as long as theirs to download.

      Oh, and while we're on the topic, it should always be legal for a municipality to create a competing free highspeed (including WiFi) service if that's what the voting taxpayers want. Making money off your monopoly is NOT a right, it's a priviledge. It doesn't not overrule the responsibility of government to be for the people.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by terraformer (617565)

        But if you're going to HAVE a government issued monopoly - like EVERY DSL and Cable company does -...

        Not every cable company is a "government issued monopoly" any longer. In the past they had been, and in many cases the incumbents are still profiting from having been one in the past, but that is a very simplistic view of our telecom industry and belies the real problems going on in it. And I am for net-neutrality and for busting monopolies and the residual gains from them.

    • by RelliK (4466)
      exactly! This is known as the strawman [wikipedia.org] argument.
    • by Tancred (3904)
      He even repeated the most common misconception about network neutrality - that prioritizing one type of traffic above others (e.g. VoIP over email) violates net neutrality. False. I've never heard anyone argue against that. From the article:

      There are a couple ways that a network operator could choose to deviate from network neutrality. The first is to give a higher priority to time-sensitive applications.
    • by Misch (158807)
      He could be employing the Chewbacca Defense [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:invalid analogy (Score:5, Informative)

      by cgleba (521624) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:41PM (#17481848)
      I work for Akamai; Akamai does offer a general-transport better-than-BGP service called Sure Route IP.

      The idea is that we utilize the massive amounts of data about the Internet's health and the insanely scalable alogorithms for matching end-users to the HTTP server that can best serve them (called mapping) to create generalized IP tunnels that send traffic across "routes" that know more about the Internet then BGP does.

      Think about it. . .BGP routes based on the least number of hops. . .there are many problems inherant in that. We route based on ping data, bandwidth, cost, reliability, etc, etc, etc.

      Did I mention that we are hiring like crazy?
      • Re:invalid analogy (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Zarhan (415465) on Friday January 05, 2007 @07:05PM (#17482228)
        Think about it. . .BGP routes based on the least number of hops.

        No they are not. BGP routes are based on the least number of traversed autonomic systems (ie. networks) - it's a path vector protocol. And you can still attach a metric value to specific peers when distributing the routes to your whatever you are running internally (IS-IS, OSPF, etc).

        Of course you cannot tell anything from the internal state of your peering network (unless the peer is smart enough to stop advertising if, say, half of it's core network goes down even though connectivity is still possible). But hey, I'm nitpicking here...
      • Re:invalid analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday January 05, 2007 @07:53PM (#17482780) Homepage
        If that is what you are doing, then it has nothing to do with net neutrality. Routing data smarter is just plain smart. It would only be a neutrality violation if you did it by holding back someone elses data. But since the only data that goes through Akamai is content Akamai hosts, then this doesn't slow anyone else down. Akamai isn't an ISP or a common carrier or anything.

        Good job guys.
    • Re:invalid analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:41PM (#17481858)
      There's no shortage of "Chicago School" Economists and other academic types who will fight any regulation tooth and nail screaming "Lassiez-fair or death." He seems to be one of those people who thinks business will solve all problems if only pesky regulations and laws would get out of the way.
    • Data service providers aren't common carriers either--hence the fight.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cswiger2005 (905744)
      I gather he's seriously a professor, but apparently not in a field that has much to do with computers. In particular, this quote from TFA:

      "If you talk to most technologists, they believe TCP/IP is now obsolete." ...leapt out at me. First, the people who know the most about network protocol usage are firewall admins, network admins/managers, ISPs, and so forth-- who tend to identify themselves specifically as such, not as "technologists". Secondly, the overwhelming majority of network traffic (especially
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by seebs (15766)
      The boundaries are a little fuzzy in spots.

      I have seen people argue that, since I have a tiny little ISP, I ought to be treated like a common carrier.

      If I am, this creates a problem for me, which is that I don't want to offer the same quality of service to cyberpromo that I do to legitimate email. (Yeah, I know cyberpromo's long-dead. You know what I mean.)

      Now, obviously, most of us assume that networks are allowed to drop spam, or whatever... But pretty often, when people write up a definition of net neu
  • The Problem Is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Slipgrid (938571) on Friday January 05, 2007 @05:51PM (#17480974) Homepage Journal
    All the start-ups have no chance.

    Remember, no one hears you scream when you are being censored.
  • by ShimmyShimmy (692324) <bplennon@gma i l . com> on Friday January 05, 2007 @05:56PM (#17481040) Homepage Journal
    FTA: The broader comment is that the architecture of the Internet is based on a thirty year-old technology, TCP/IP. If you talk to most technologists, they believe TCP/IP is now obsolete.

    How is this fundamentally bad? It's 30 years old and therefore unusable and obsolete? If anything, I would praise such a technology for being so versatile as to last this many years. Take the bullet for example. I don't hear the military complaining that it sucks just because it's over 250 years old.
    Oh yeah, wasn't banning the use of evoting supposed to be bad because it was tying them to "an old technology [internetnews.com]"?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MalleusEBHC (597600)
      His problem is that he makes good points but then loses his credibility by following them up directly with bad points. I suspect that most geeks would agree that TCP is a great protocol that has stood the test of time. Sure it could probably be improved, but for the most part it's rock solid.

      Unfortunately, because of what he said about TCP, it's easy to miss the other point he was trying to make. If we mandate protocols, QoS, etc., we are likely stiffling future innovations in this area. It's not at the sam
      • by synx (29979) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:13PM (#17481374)
        TCP has been improved since it was originally created. Any good network technology course will expose you to this. BSD was innovative because it significantly improved TCP performance both between BSD hosts and non-BSD hosts.

        As a small example, take TCP slow-start. Or TCP window adjustment based on ping. None of those things were in the original TCP spec.

        To say that TCP is a 30-year old technology as if there was no significant improvement is more than a bit of a misnomer.

        As for OSI - I'm going to take a internet position - show me a working, viable implementation. You can't anymore. The problem was all OSI implementations were proprietery, erasing any advantage they _might_ have held over TCP/IP. The only ones I can think of off the top of my head are SNA and DCE.
      • Unfortunately, because of what he said about TCP, it's easy to miss the other point he was trying to make. If we mandate protocols, QoS, etc., we are likely stiffling future innovations in this area.


        OTOH, since net neutrality isn't about "mandating protocols", I'm not sure what even his legitimate points (like "Akamai is useful!") have to do with the thesis his piece is nominally addressing, to wit, why we should be worried by net neutrality.
      • by merreborn (853723)
        imagine if HTTP and FTP had been mandated at the application layer. Would we have ever had Bittorrent?

        Yes. There's always a higher layer. You can encapsulate anything in HTTP, if you really have to. People do it all the time, for firewall evasion.

        An example: http://sebsauvage.net/punching/ [sebsauvage.net]

  • Yeah, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by richdun (672214) on Friday January 05, 2007 @05:56PM (#17481042)
    Sure, only those who can afford it can use a service like Akamai to get their bytes better transit over the 'net, but that's called capitalism. The core problem with non-net-neutrality is not that one person would be able to pay more than the others for better service, its that the same companies who provide the infrastructure would be the ones charging for tiered service. Akamai is a third-party, and while we all might think of them as infrastructure because they provide such a critical service to so many very very large sites, they aren't the telcos providing core access to the 'net itself.

    It's like any other utility - power, water, gas, etc. - where it costs a lot to buy the equipment needed to access large amounts of the utility at once, but you still pay the same rates as the guy who can't afford the bigger water pumps, better power grid, etc.
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday January 05, 2007 @05:56PM (#17481050)
    The whole Akamai argument is a great argument for a non-neutral except for the minor point that Akamai doesn't in any way violate net neutrality.

    • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:02PM (#17481176) Journal
      I know, Mrs. Lincoln, but what I'm trying to get at is, other than that, didn't you basically enjoy the play?
    • by evilviper (135110)
      ...
      ditto for every other argument he makes, from changing internet protocols to theoretical networks that only serve low-latency content...

      I half expected him to say next that the internet was a big truck...
    • I pay for my web server to have X-amount of bandwidth a month.
      I pay my ISP at home for access to the the internet.
      So now I will have to pay my ISP even more so they don't slow down my access to my webserver from my home.
      Using Akamai is just paying for bandwidth for your server. It is nothing but hosting. It really has nothing to do with net neutrality.
      That is the core of this problem. The users are paying for network access. The people producing the content are paying for network access. The ISPs want the c
    • by Surt (22457)
      The whole Akamai argument is a great argument for a non-neutral except for the minor point that Akamai doesn't in any way violate net neutrality.

      That's not the point of the Akamai argument. The point is that Akamai is cool, and if you would allow for non-net-neutrality, you could have more cool just like Akamia, but at the next lower level of the internet.
  • by quanticle (843097) on Friday January 05, 2007 @05:58PM (#17481098) Homepage

    The most concentrated link in this chain of production is last-mile transmission. I would say that ISP services - e-mail hosting and those sorts of things - are relatively competitive and the barriers to entry are fairly low - there are no reasons we couldn't have multiple services.

    Huh? How is the last-mile market competitive? Where I live, I have 1 option for high-speed internet: the cable company. The phone company refuses to build a switching station to offer DSL. As far as I'm concerned, I'm living in a monopoly market, the very opposite of the one described in the article.

    I wouldn't have a problem with network non-neutrality if the ISP market was a competitive one, allowing me to switch to a better ISP if my current provider was not meeting my needs. Given that I don't live in that kind of a market, I support network neutrality as it provides a compromise solution that meets the needs of most people while causing as little harm as possible.

    • by NorbrookC (674063)

      I'm sure that the last mile is competitive if you're talking about areas with relatively high-density populations. Once you get out of those areas, forget it. There is no competition. Like you, I have one choice for high-speed, in this case, the local phone company. The cable company here doesn't offer any sort of Internet service. Hell, they don't even offer much in the way of service, period! I've been in areas where you might find a few hundred households inside a 25-50 mile radius. It simply isn't c

  • by heroine (1220) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:01PM (#17481150) Homepage
    You didn't pay for it. You didn't do the R&D. You spent 40 years promoting Minitel, calling the internet a waste of cold-war defense spending. Now finally, you're complaining about being left out of the internet.

  • by seventhc (636528)
    I'm somewhat neutral on this topic.
  • Professor Yoo (Score:4, Informative)

    by homerjfong (709647) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:02PM (#17481180)
    Just so everyone's clear, this is also the Professor Yoo whose theory of the unitary executive underlies Bush's claims of vast (and hitherto unknown) power - power to do things like read your mail, listen to your phone calls, and look at your bank transactions - all without a warrant or any judicial review. As well as the rejection of the 1,000 year old doctrine of habeas corpus.

    Review the Alito hearings if this isn't familiar to you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sphealey (2855)
      _That_ Yoo is John Yoo, and I believe he is at UCLA.

      sPh
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by DragonWriter (970822)
        No, the John Yoo that is an accused war criminal and noted proponent of the idea that the President is above the law is shaping future lawyers at Boalt Hall, the law school of the University of California, Berkeley, not the University of California, Los Angeles.

        But, in any case, you are correct that he is not the Christopher Yoo that wrote TFA.
      • by Surt (22457) on Friday January 05, 2007 @07:05PM (#17482220) Homepage Journal
        However, neither is helping the notion that the Yoo family produces a lot of morally corrupt professors.
    • by Blappo (976408)
      He's wrong. Kind of takes the sting out of a hyperbolic rant when your first sentence is a lie. ( Iknow it's just a mistake, but no one makes mistakes anymore, it's always "lies")
  • Professor --

    Akamai and Net Neutrality don't have much to do with each other. Its services would be useful no matter what. All they do is take common content and place it "near" where it will likely be needed. It's a caching service, essentially. I don't think anyone has a problem with that business model.

    Think of the Internet as being like a highway system for information. Net Neutrality basically says that if you're building roads and connecting them to the main highway system, you must let anyone use
  • Of course, no one is prohibited from starting up their own content distribution service and competing with Akami (ignoring patents for the moment) as long as the tubes are neutral. I am sure the good professor is well aware of this but has decided for some odd reason not to mention it.

    sPh

  • Is a really bad analogy, and it also proves that you don't need to remove net-neutrality for the megacorps to have the option to pay a premium to ensure their sites load quickly for everyone. It's a bad analogy because Akamai isn't making other connections slower by its presence, while removing net-neutrality _may_ speed up a handful of sites (I find this arguable, especially when dealing with cable internet, where at a downstream of 300+ KB/s, most sites load so quickly any speed increase would be negligib
  • The problem is peering chokepoints, not transmission protocols or distributed content hosting or anything else he talks about. Consumer end users are only served by 1 to 3 broadband providers in any given market, so those providers can act like selective gatekeepers unless they are legally prevented from doing so. Without net neutrality (more properly referred to as common carriage), they can hold the audience "captive" and charge for access. This radically distorts the market.

    For example it would really hu
  • by maynard (3337) <j.maynard.gelinas@gmai3.14l.com minus pi> on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:10PM (#17481330) Journal
    I think we all understand the desire for QoS application tagging, to support high bandwidth low latency streams. I think net neutrality folks would be willing to accept a compromise which allowed for a public QoS standard. The real issue is transparency and censorship.

    I don't want a private company to have the power and the right to censor material I might want to download, simply because directing my browser somewhere else might generate them more advertising revenue. Further, I want QoS tagging and bandwidth limits public. The Professor really avoided the private censorship and public accountability issues.

    Bad professor! No cookie for you.
  • All of these networks would continue to be interoperable with each other, but they would operate in slightly different ways by optimizing their networks for slightly different types of services.

    Pathetic. This is just an argument as to why people should remain clueless about TCP/IP and pay 3 times as much for network services as they need. I don't need three network providers. I need one network provider that allows me to set my own QoS. And I can already do that. My online gaming and VOIP applications are programmed to have higher priority on the router.

    The solution is to make the programming of QoS easier. Right now, I need to have familiarity with pf syntax to do that. However, for my needs, an

    • by cweber (34166)
      That, my friend, is a dumb idea. My Skype connection to my parents overseas, for example, is based on a P2P protocol. Giving it low QoS would badly hurt it. What I'm saying with this is you can't foresee what the next grat app is going to do under the hood, and you don't want to shoot yourself in the foot at all. Keep QoS out of the hands of most, if not all people, because if you let them choke things they will. Guaranteed!
  • Akamai isn't controlling the bandwidth to my house, if CNN pays for it and MSNBC does not, it does not somehow make MSNBC slower than it was before CNN paid, furthermore Akamai is not competing with MSNBC or CNN as the current internet providers are with VoIP services like Vonage.

    It's a nice feel-good piece about how having money gets you places, but it has absolutely nothing to do with SBC's (now ATT) CEO demanding that they somehow deserve some of Google's money. In the section where the interviewer asks
  • by nuzak (959558) on Friday January 05, 2007 @06:22PM (#17481550) Journal
    "Akamai is a commercial service and is only available to people who are willing to pay for it. If CNN.com pays for it, and MSNBC.com does not, CNN.com will get better service."

    The agreement between CNN and Akamai results in better service for CNN and its users regardless of the endpoints from which it's accessed CNN upgraded its network without having to pay off every carrier along the way to those endpoints. Seems rather like net neutrality made things simpler and easier for Akamai.

    I want faster bandwidth, I need merely pay $5/mo extra to RCN for it. Again, the contract between me and my provider. If I want faster downloads from Fileplanet, I can pay for a membership. Another private contract.

    This can apply to peering, and thus poof goes net neutrality, and really that's all fine, because it's again their endpoints -- if RCN wants to run Akamai nodes and get Akamaized content faster, that's their choice, they can control the ingress of traffic as they choose. However, when the carrier decides to throttle the traffic that's now within their network to my endpoint based on whether a third party has paid the carrier fee, I'm starting to feel like I should have been a party to this contract and gotten consideration for it.

    I've got no problem with a tiered Internet, as long as it doesn't solely involve a middleman taking from both sides of the communication endpoints with no meaningful input from either.
  • "If CNN.com pays for it, and MSNBC.com does not, CNN.com will get better service.'"

    And there's the rub. CNN won't be paying for it. CNN's customers will. So what he is saying is that free Internet will be unusably slow while "pay for service" Internet will run along at current speeds. The end user will have to pay a membership fee per site visited.

    How is this an improvement again?
  • I am lead to the conclusion that this guy's views are being promoted by forces who feel the internet can be treated like a toll road.

    Seems to me someone should examine how exactly these cleverly packaged misrepresentations got press-time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spaceman40 (565797)
      The internet is already being treated like a toll road. To connect, you pay an ISP. Taking the analogy further: To talk to Google, you send a packet to them, and they respond back with a packet. The current system has you pay your ISP for your packet (upload speeds) and Google's packet (download speeds) over their network. Google pays their ISP for your packet (their download speeds) and Google's packet (their upload speeds) over their network. Then the two ISPs cooperate to make the connection work.
  • I have seen commercials on TV for "net neutrality", and I have been away from /. for a while, but I have no idea what the whole argument is about. I read the article, checked Wiki, but I don't see why there is an argument over giving time sensitive data priority. Could someone lend me a hand?
    • by JoshJ (1009085)
      The issue is not giving priority to time-sensitive data. The issue is giving priority to data based on how much money they're backing it up with.
      As an example, say AT&T signs a deal with yahoo; google doesn't, AT&T can slow google to a crawl for all its customers. This is clearly not in their best interest. This would quash any kind of website that doesn't have a lot of finanical backing- hell, look at Youtube when it was starting up- they certainly couldn't have afforded it.
  • Because their domain is used to host pretty much everything, they're blocked on most education content filters due to pornography. Which means dozens of major sites fail to load properly when their CSS and images are hosted on akamai. This sort of hosting makes it hard on organizations with a need for content filtering because legitimate sites are broken in order to block that content which should be blocked.

    The end result has been that those sites who depend on hosting that refers back to akamai's domain l
  • ...this is an argument that focuses on a non-problem. In the scenario described the bandwidth advantage is obtained not through licensing or fees but through hardware and locality. Now you have to pay to get those things but the difference is that in a non net-neutral world you have to not only pay for those things but for the 'bandwidth' in which to operate them.
  • by virtigex (323685) on Friday January 05, 2007 @07:13PM (#17482344)
    By this argument, robbery and murder must be OK. You can buy house alarms, weapons and bodyguards. If I buy them and my neighbor does not I'll be OK and my neighbor will get robbed and murdered. Here's the rub... just because there are services to stop bad things happening, it does not make those bad things OK.

  • by Tired and Emotional (750842) on Friday January 05, 2007 @07:14PM (#17482356)
    The problem he is addressing is that the chargeout model for internet bandwidth usage is flawed if usage can frequently saturate any part of the shared network (ie any part where different users are competing for bandwidth). His argument supports charging for bandwidth, not differentiation on service type.

    With any service, there's a fixed cost for hooking the thing up, plus a marginal cost for actually using it. For the internet because the ratio of marginal costs to fixed costs is quite low, usage of bandwidth has been treated as free in recent times (it wasn't always so - in the 80s you paid by the packet and boy was it expensive).

    That is ok while the capacity is high enough that users are not competing for bandwidth. As soon as it starts to saturate you've got the problem that there is no way to efficiently allocate capacity to users as long as the marginal cost of bandwidth is zero.

    But a solution to this problem needs to be based on usage, not service type. That's the key point here - service type should not be permitted to be used as a proxy for usage.

    Further, because most of the network is a natural monopoly, government regulation is not counter to liberal principles on markets. Its obvious that the local loop is a natural monopoly. The backbone is also, because of network effects.

    Further, allowing service differentiating is allowing the monopolist to control the market for which services can be provided, and by whom.

    So legislating for net neutrality is both a fair use of legislative power and is in support of, not counter to, free market principles.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday January 05, 2007 @07:18PM (#17482414) Homepage

    I'm reading his papers, and I'm not too impressed. Read his "Network Neutrality and the Economics of Congestion" [upenn.edu], where he pontificates on that subject.

    Where he goes off track is at "Fortunately, policymakers wishing to address theses problems can draw on the extensive theoretical literature exploring the economics of congestion. Much of the literature has focused on the choice between flat-rate pricing and usage-sensitive pricing. The primary finding of this literature is that competitive markets will reach an efficient equilibrium if each user is charged a usage-sensitive price set equal to their marginal contribution to congestion. 28" Reference 28 is to "28 See, e.g., Eitan Berglas, On the Theory of Clubs, 66 AM. ECON REV. 116, 119 (1976).", which is a classic paper on periodic vs per-use pricing for things like gyms and swimming pools, but is not about congestion at all.

    Yao does get some things right. He recognizes that the billing cost (he says "transaction cost", but means billing overhead) for things like the Internet is higher than the cost of providing the service, and this distorts the economics from the pay-for-what-you-get model economists usually like.

    But then he goes off into a right-wing rant on why vertically integrated monopolies are good. The competition between the vertically integrated monopolies will supposedly prevent prices from rising. However, he states that as an article of faith, without support. Historically, when a market gets down to small number of players, (two or three), price competition tends to weaken. The fewer the players, the easier de-facto collusion becomes.

    He ignores many issues. Time scale, for example. Congestion is a problem on a scale of minutes, while carrier-switching by end users occurs on a scale of months. He also ignores contractual lock-in and technical lock-in, which makes carrier switching more expensive. If the end user's strategy is to minimize their costs over the next year, then carriers can raise their rates each year by any amount less than the cost of switching, and get away with it. He ignores that completely. (This is a chronic problem with economists. Like control theorists, they study feedback systems, but unlike control theorists, they don't consider time domain issues like stability, settling time, oscillation, and phase locking issues much.)

    There's also the technical issue in Internet congestion that the congestion is mostly at the edges. If you have your own wire to the central office, as with DSL, why should there be price differentiation depending on what data you're sending and receiving? Yet it's the DSL providers who don't want network neutrality. It's not the backbone providers. Thus, congestion isn't the real issue. Wanting a bigger piece of the TV viewer's entertainment spending is.

    There are people who've written well about the economics of network congestion, but this guy isn't one of them.

  • by wfberg (24378) on Friday January 05, 2007 @07:23PM (#17482476)
    I don't know what this guy is pretending to be, a lawyer or a geek, but his arguments are all extremely uninformed.

    1) "The number of possible connections has gone up quadratically with the number of total users; so the Internet has become much more complex."

    So? Is this a technological problem that is in any way related to the issue of Net-Neutrality? We seem to be handling this just fine at the moment, and if we run into problems we switch to IPv6, don't we?

    2) People use different applications with different QoS needs. Providers should be allowed to provide priority to certain types of traffic.

    Again, entirely unrelated to the issue of Net-Neutrality. You can get all sorts of QoS deals from ISPs, e.g. MPLS. The issue with Net-Neutrality is the ISP giving priority to their own traffic, so they gain an unnatural advantage over competing services not owned by the ISP - a vertical monopoly.

    3) TCP/IP is obsolete, and companies should be allowed to experiment with protocols.

    TCP/IP is not only working just fine, but it's adapted all the time. It's up to version 4, and IPv6 can be implemented by any one who chooses to. There are many protocols that use UDP over IP, and even many protocols that use IP, but neither TCP nor UDP. The past few years there have been many quiet revolutions in protocols; from dialling in using SLIP to PPP, to getting cable (docsis 1.0) to getting ADSL, then ADSL2+, p2p protocols like bittorrent emerging and chanching just about daily, people using VOIP, companies deploying VOIP on an enterprise scale (right down to global telecommunications giants switching to, egads no!, an all-IP backbone for voice).

    Again, this has nothing to do with preventing vertical monopolies.

    Then there are some things that just paint him as someone who has no idea what he's talking about..

    How to achieve QoS? He points out that TCP (the obsolete protocol, mind you) has a Type of Service field! How ironic. Wasn't he argueing we need new protocols? Like, oh, I don't know, MPLS, which he seems to be unaware of? But then, he also seems to be under the impression that you can't choose between ISPs that offer different levels of QoS, which is patently untrue. (Nor would they not be allowed to exist if we had Net Neutrality. They just would be forced to be fair)

    Then he goes on to say Akamai (not an internet service provider, not engaging much in vertical monopolies) is "an entirely different architecture". No it's not, they use DNS and obsolete TCP just like anybody else. There is nothing at all new about this architecture, mind you - in fact, it's pretty much what usenet does. We used to call sites with content closer to you "mirrors". The only nifty thing akamai adds is redirecting you to the nearest host on the DNS level. Oh, in fact, DNS root servers do the same thing on a BGP level even. And they also cache their zones. Still neutral, though.

    "deep packet inspections ... would allow a degree of non-neutrality" - there again, confusing anti-QoS with anti-vertical-monopoly (Net Neutrality); in fact, using "non-neutrality" as a synonym for QoS. It's not.

    Oh, and the question about neutrality? Who controls the QoS, in his grand vision? He doesn't even answer it.

    If you want to be anti-Net-Neutrality, fine, argue that vertical monopolies are good, or that vertical monopolies won't happen, or that Net-Neutrality laws wouldn't be effective. Don't bring up straw man arguments.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday January 05, 2007 @08:09PM (#17482966) Homepage
    Professor Yoo should stick to law. He has made technical mistakes that make him look like a fool.

    First, Mr. Yoo states that technologists believe TCP/IP is obsolete. (WTF?!?!?!!?) He seems to have made that up, which brings his credibility into question. I can't even find a single article that mentions that concept in a search. As a technologist, I can assure him that TCP/IP is considered robust, and pointing out it's age doesn't change that.

    Next, Mr. Yoo's describes why network neutrality might hold things back, but gives an example that has nothing to do with Network Neutrality. Akamai caches data and routes it efficiently, which is something these "obsolete" protocols like TCP and HTTP have special provisions for. None of that violates network neutrality in any way.

    Lastly, Mr. Yoo underestimates the value of standardization. He states that "...standardization by itself runs the risk of becoming an obstruction to technological progress." We are very fortunate that Mr. Yoo does not hold a position in government policy, or we would all have incompatible TVs, electrical outlets, and the cohesive internet of today would not exist at all.

    If Mr. Yoo wants to build his own private network on his own non-standard protocols, I invite him to try. In the mean time, my company will continue to operate using the efficient, standard, neutral internet we have today.

What ever you want is going to cost a little more than it is worth. -- The Second Law Of Thermodynamics

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