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The Internet

Creating the New Public Network 104

Codeine writes: "Tom Lyons argues persuasively that the incumbent competitors might be incapable of delivering an utility IP network. Competition in such commodity markets encourages the breaking of connectivity, ``Connectivity is the fundamental service of the Internet, yet it is connectivity that suffers first when network providers compete for users and services.'' Thus he proposes the Institute for the Promotion of the Internet Protocol Utility."
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Creating the New Public Network

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  • conected (Score:1, Interesting)

    by prof187 ( 235849 )
    The biggest problem facing the Internet today will not be solved by broadband, wireless, open access cable, a third wire, content control, or better security.

    Uhh, what should it be solved with? Good will and intentions? Without the blocks, you cannot build a skyscraper.

    As long as I have conectivity where I am and where I will be going, I'm fine.
    • For years internet architects have built a house of cards that is not nearly as robust as it's outer appearance. In fact, there are some aspects that point to a fragile infrastructure just waiting for the final earthquake. The ATM backbone that Tom's previous company helped produce, is largely responsible for creating the packet lost instabilities in the network over the last 5 years. Under Vint Cerf's leadership at MCI/WorldCom/UUNet (Will WorldCom's Woes Engulf UUNet? [internetnews.com]) switched ATM networks created several years of heavy packetloss at key peering points, that can only cascade into total collapse if UUNet goes dark. This fragility might be the only thing that actually saves WorldCom/UUNet - the fear of what can happen without it.

      With UUNet dark, the remaining network lacks the switching capacity to handle all of today's traffic (it barely can handle today's traffic without packet loss monitored here [internettr...report.com]), much less short term growth as the world economy recovers from the dire recession. The resulting high packet loss would take us back 5 years where many DNS lookups timed out and simply failed due to high packet loss, and the network loading is dominated by 100% to 300% retries cascading into congestive failure (RFC896 [rfc-editor.org] Congestion Control in IP/TCP Internetworks. J. Nagle. January 1984).

      There have been many people explore this issue, some very excellent papers (Quality of Service in the Internet: Fact, Fiction, or Compromise? [employees.org] by Paul Ferguson and Geoff Huston) - but largely missed are very basic architectural issues like NTP time syncronization network wide for packet loss retransmission that CREATES well synchronized additional packet loss. This happens because the retranmissions are all timed to arrive at the same time in overloaded switches just to be dropped again due to servers having their scheduling clocks syncronized at a very low rate of 50/60/100/1K Hertz.

      A study I did in 1997 of peering point packet loss showed that 90% of packet loss observed correlated to retransmit clock boundries. Changes in traffic flow from primarily mail and ftp in the early 90's, to web traffic where browsers launch 4-20 concurrent small file lookups changed the nature and ability for Slow Start to be effective in throttling loads causing packet loss (web browser designers flood requests to mask packet loss timeouts) and the short files which are often only a couple packets in length do not throttle with TCP window size controls.

      Nothing in the next generation design of the internet (IPv6, VoIP, Streaming UDP MP3's, FPS games which flood packets, or any other new protocol) addresses these critical failings ... in fact there is a huge head in the sand approach to just continue providing excess bandwidth and applications to saturate it even more quickly.

      Tom's suggestions largely miss the boat, for all the wrong reasons - but the end conclusion is correct - the biggest problems tomarrow are not going to be solved by the solutions being offered.
  • by MORTAR_COMBAT! ( 589963 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @08:04AM (#3885271)
    adam smith's economics and capitalism, or the promise of cheap, reliable broadband for everyone. how often has the promise of "public involvement for the public good" sounded so, well, good, but in the delivery it all goes bad. the USA has always had this attempt of having their cake and eating it too. when you try to have BOTH free markets AND public regulation, what exactly are you trying to do? either have one or the other, with both, you are playing tug of war with yourself.

    • "Public involvement for the public good" can and does work, as was proven by John Nash's work on Game Theory that earned him a Nobel Prize for his paper on, if I recall corrctly, co-operative endeavour in game thoery.

      IANA Mathematician, however..

      • IAA Mathematician...

        John Nash's work on Game Theory did not, IMO, have much to do with "public involvement for the public good". It basically attacked John Smith's notion that in general, the best outcome is achieved when all participants do what is in their best interest. Nash basically demonstrated that the best outcome actually MAY occur when all participants work together. This is hardly, I think, blanket support for "public involvement", rather, it supports the notion that if all the Tier-1 ISP's worked together instead of bloodthirstily competing with each other, the best outcome could result.

        However, as most Tier-1 ISP's are publicly held, the shareholders do not really care about "the best outcome" for all involved, they want THEIR Tier-1 ISP to WIN COMPLETELY, and, obviously, have not read any of Nash's theories :)

      • Imagine you had 3 radio formats with different percentages for listener base:
        Pop - 50%
        News - 30%
        Country - 20%

        With only one radio station the best choice is obvious run pop and grab the 50% market share.

        With two radio stations the best choice is more difficult: they can both go after the pop market and get 25% each or one can agree to do news while the other does pop. This allows them to collectively do better. That isn't a huge problem yet, since the guy dropping half of pop (25%) to news (30%) is still gaining market share.

        With three stations the situation becomes even more interesting. The first two get pop and news. However the third station still does better getting half of pop (25%) then running country music (20%). Only via. some sort of cooperative agreement can the three maximize their common profits. That is cooperative agreements can outperform individual maximization.
  • Stable enough? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by webword ( 82711 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @08:05AM (#3885276) Homepage
    Has the "IP level of the Internet" stabilized enough to consider making it a "publicly supported & controlled utility"? Sure, it has been around for a while [historyoftheinternet.com], but are we really ready for it to be a utility? Connectivity is important but do we need the IP level of the Internet to be a utility to guarantee stability? Further, aren't there some benefits to instability, such as innovation? The article is good, but it doesn't convince me that we are ready to this kind of commitment.
    • Re:Stable enough? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Hadlock ( 143607 )
      i figure in 2014, when people who were born in 1994 (generally accepted as turning point where the internet became "mainstream") turn 20, and go off to college, will expect a broadband connection in their dorm room (alot/most of older dorm rooms in non-major colleges still don't have anything more than a coupel 120v power outlets and a single RJ-11 jack). they'll demand it when they go to college, and will refuse to live anywhere where they don't have immediate access to the internet. smaller rural towns will use the last of the cash reserves to connect themselves to the "information grid" in hopes of preventing their population from dwindling any further. at that point the smaller towns will lobby the states to provide "last mile internet". at that point it'll be cheaper for the states to lobby that broadband internet will be considered a utility, and various things paid for with federal funds. it'll take another 4 years to get it through legislation, and another 2 years to implement (government contract work takes FOREVER). so it'll probably be everywhere by 2020, rough estimate.

      that's just my guess anyways.
    • Has the "IP level of the Internet" stabilized enough

      No. Since we are at the moment in the transition phase between version 4 and 6 it should not be considered stabilized yet. Some time in the future when IPv6 is being used on most of the Internet, and has been stable for some time it will be time to ask that question again.
    • Re:Stable enough? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 4of12 ( 97621 )

      are we really ready for it to be a utility?

      I'm ready for it to be a utility.


      aren't there some benefits to instability, such as innovation?

      Indeed there are, but you don't need to dissolve all standards and semblance of order to create a nurturing environment for creativity.

      Roads are an example. They were used for foot traffic and for horse and buggy and yet the innovation of the automobile was able to build upon the network of roads quite handily.

      And, that innovation of the automobile still doesn't preclude other innovations (robotic aerial drones for package delivery is my favorite) that do not make use of the road network.

      Likewise with digitial communications. I think the IP utility is a good idea with plenty of mileage left in it for new ideas. If someone does comes up with a dramatically better idea for digital communications networks, then I suspect that one of the hallmarks of its success will be the ability to easily piggyback legacy IP on it.

      I'm not sure I understand the basis for the authors criticism of NAT. I think it's a matter of degree; that NAT can be a sufficiently good multiplexer of services that my view of the rest of the network is not overly inhibited. OTOH, security considerations for firewall NAT tend to start with the assumption of "start with it disabled", so possibly inhibiting new services.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Competition is a bad motivation. Don't get me wrong, it is a powerful motivator, but a bad one. What is competition? A form of fighting. Fighting is about winning. It is not about doing what is right, what is for the best, nor even what is logical. It is about destroying those who threaten your personal or collective power and ambitions.
    I think it is telling that so few today believe anything other than greed and threats to personal power and prestiege can be motivators.
    • No; business is about winning, not competing. That, incidentally, is why we have anti-trust laws; businesses, being led by rational people (as irrationally run businesses might not be around that long) would logically form cartels if it were in their interests (such as several major players agreeing to divide up a market territory, fix prices, and keep out new players).

      And competition is, pretty much, a race for self-improvement. Chasing after others is largely fruitless, and the obvious measures against them, such as predatory pricing, are frowned upon by the "referees". Violence as per the old railroad wars is even more of a no-no. Hence, well-run businesses try to increase efficiency, expand their product lines, and so forth, instead of, oh, property destruction and sabotage; today, that's the job of the unions as they strike.
    • Competition is a bad motivation.
      The great strength of both Capitalism and Republican Democracy is their ability to turn our Sin Nature around and use it for the collective good.

      (For those unfamiliy with the term "Sin Nature," it is a Christian theological term. It refers to human being's innate tendency to do that which is evil - to tend to lie, cheat, steal, destroy, etc. in pursuit of their own desires at the cost of the desires of their fellows. In this belief system, it is a fundamental building block of human nature. I think most (though not all) modern thinkers agree with some mutation of this idea, though they may decide to call it by a different name.)

      Both of these systems, which dominate the world scene now due to their success, work because they channel our natural tendency to do what is good for me into doing what is good for all of us. The capitalist wants money or power or recognition. He/She does this by building a company (which provides jobs which benefits other) which produces a product (which meets a need of others) and brings in money (which pays for the other stuff and is also collected in taxes to support the many). The key is to make sure the structure is put together correctly so that this works. It is the strengths which lead to the unprecedented wealth and prosperity seen in First-World countries. It is the weaknesses which lead to problems like Enron, etc.

      This post is a bit long. The basic point is that competition is not bad. It is simply a force which our society has harnessed for good. Don't try to end the competition. Try to put a structure in place which will make the compeition work for society to produce the Good you are looking for.

    • Competition is a great motivator. It gives a company incentive to improve its products in order to sell more units and make more money. In this instance, a govt. run internet has no competition, and therefore will remain just good enough, except maybe in election years, when politicians want votes.
  • Sadly it looks like the internet is slowly heading down the same route as other communications/network technologies.

    As soon as someone realises that there's money or power to be made(and lots of it) a once free (as in speech) technology becomes market controlled and regulated, in general the overall network gets dumbed down, and all but obsolete as new technologies come along.

    Here are a few examples from the past few hundred years or so..

    Science-Art, initially sciences and arts were free (thousands of years ago), they go locked down and made illegal in part for a hell of a long time.

    snail-mail, this is a very good example of a vanishing technology, currently being opened up to full competition in the UK with the possibility of increased prices and a poorer service(YMMV).

    Good old radio,
    In the beginning anyone could put together an AM radio and broadcast anything, now a days they even control what you can listen to, and the airwaves are all sold out.

    The Telephone,the common telephone has started to vanish in the UK, cell phones and broad-band are replacing standard telephone technologies almost to the point where telephone networks no longer operate for voice communications.
    There's a very long story here especially in the US with bell labs and all that,
    I believe there are lots of regulations in place if you ever wanted to start up a Telco. The selling off of the air waves regulation of other networks by governments makes telephone networks highly capitalised.

    And now the internet,

    Getting less private and more dictated, the market is not yet saturated enough for it to make a big difference to Joe public and corporations and governments are looking at taking over before Joe public realises what there going to miss.
  • Where has he been? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b.foster ( 543648 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @08:19AM (#3885326)
    Connectivity on the modern internet has been broken for many years, and will continue to stay that way as long as it is in providers' best interest to do so. Let's take a look at some examples to see why the problem is intractable:
    • The internet is global. Although America has a bit of a stranglehold on most of the network, large portions of the internet are controlled by different governments, many of whom do not cooperate with the others. Saudi Arabia, China, and Iraq all firewall off most of the American internet hosts to suppress democracy. What makes My. Lyons think that these nations would be open to creating a "new public network" that allows free and open access?
    • Blackhole lists are the rule, not the exception. Remember MAPS and ORBS, who asked participants to load ACLs onto their routers that killed off the class Cs and class Bs of suspected spammers? Well, these almost always resulted in collateral damage to unsuspecting customers of spammer-friendly ISPs. This created a dark underbelly of the internet: redlined addresses that were like the bastard half-brothers of the other hosts on the network, unable to access many important sites.
    • Rogue nations need to be dealt with. Some nations, such as Korea and Russia, are widely acknowledged to have a preposterously bad record in dealing with security issues. Part of the problem is that their WHOIS system is unfriendly to English speakers; part of the problem is that their system administrators are severely overburdened and do not have time to fix r00ted systems. The problem arises in that it makes sense for Western hosts and ISPs to block traffic to and from these nations, in order to protect their own interests.
    • The internet is global. Although America has a bit of a stranglehold on most of the network, large portions of the internet are controlled by different governments, many of whom do not cooperate with the others. Saudi Arabia, China, and Iraq all firewall off most of the American internet hosts to suppress democracy. What makes My. Lyons think that these nations would be open to creating a "new public network" that allows free and open access?

      So is every (other) public utility (e.g. postal service, telephone, etc.). Do you think mail goes to and from China uncensored? I don't see how making IP a utility will be so much different.

      Blackhole lists are the rule, not the exception. Remember MAPS and ORBS, who asked participants to load ACLs onto their routers that killed off the class Cs and class Bs of suspected spammers? Well, these almost always resulted in collateral damage to unsuspecting customers of spammer-friendly ISPs. This created a dark underbelly of the internet: redlined addresses that were like the bastard half-brothers of the other hosts on the network, unable to access many important sites.

      Ah, spam. Maybe this could actually help fix the spam problem to a degree. After all, there will certainly be more regulation introduced worldwide if it's considered a utility. Other than that it's not clear what you are trying to say with this. You mean, that blackholes will still exist? I imagine that if delivery is regulated this could very well change, but in spite of that there are still "blackholes" where you cannot get some current utilities already. E.g. parts of some major cities often have no 911 service. So, again, no difference between current utilities and IP.

      Rogue nations need to be dealt with. Some nations, such as Korea and Russia, are widely acknowledged to have a preposterously bad record in dealing with security issues. Part of the problem is that their WHOIS system is unfriendly to English speakers; part of the problem is that their system administrators are severely overburdened and do not have time to fix r00ted systems. The problem arises in that it makes sense for Western hosts and ISPs to block traffic to and from these nations, in order to protect their own interests.

      This is why the customs department, NSA, CIA, etc. exist in the first place. While they may also be dealing with things that are none of their business, they also handle security and threats from rogue nations. Thankfully I can still receive snail mail from a rogue nation even though the sender might have ill intentions. Customs regulations ensures that it probably will be carefully inspected before coming to my door. Likewise with telephone calls. Yes, I know, invasion of privacy, etc., etc. but we have been living with this type of thing for many years WRT our postal and telephone services and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

      • If IP becomes a utility - then Customs will probably gain control over a huge quantity of international bandwidth...

        Public Utility has one very negative effect: Incompleteness. Companies (usually) attempt to reduce the number of workers/amount of work by improving the reliability and self-healing nature of their systems. Public works are interested in providing the service, but also continuing to provide jobs. Take the Dept. of Transportation...

        The DOT is constantly repairing, replacing, reconstructing roads. In high-traffic areas, they try to do a very good job and ensure that the road lasts for some time (you don't like to tie up huge numbers of people with construction). In lower traffic areas, the roads are given far less care during building (I do not expect secondary roads to receive the same amount of maintenance/care as primary roads). If more effort was taken during building, the secondary roads would last much longer, age better, and ultimately be a much better investment. But low-maintenance roads don't require as many workers. They don't spend the budget, ensuring you will get the same amount of money next year (I won't even start on that travesty of good sense).

        In short, public works provide decent service, but they sacrifice quality of continuum... Fiber wouldn't be run when copper would do... Sure an OC-3 is slower, but the equipment is cheaper, and if we buy several of them, we will eventually have the same bandwidth.

        Spending less money each year and more money overall may be fine for buying a new car, but not for buying a new Internet.

  • The current administration has not been very friendly to such highly regulated non-business-friendly things as a public IP network. The concept of 'public good' seems to have been tossed out the window. OTOH, the current round of business scandals certainly sets the tone for such a thing. Several of the current scandals threaten to darken serious portions of the Internet, at least temporarily. My own home connection (Adelphia) is threatened, for that matter.

    On the more historic side, apparently nobody remembers The Source or any of the early highly-proprietary online services. Even CompuServe, AOL, and Prodigy only survived by becoming Internet portals, though all but AOL are all but gone. People simply didn't want to be locked in. They wanted the "IP Utility" that the Internet originally offered. Ever since the Internet was privatized, there's been a tug-of-war to turn it back into a proprietary cash-cow, despite the teachings of even recent history.

    But then again, we went to the Moon, and threw all of that away.
  • And of course, the Intellectual Property of the Institute for the Promotion of the Internet Protocol Utility would give us IPIPIPU.

    'Ip 'Ip 'Ooray
  • Balancing rights (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @08:29AM (#3885367) Homepage
    As a private company with a contract with individuals they can allow and prohibit anything they want.

    It seems that the key arguement towards making internet access a utility is to remove onerous clauses from the contract, similar to consumer protection laws, existing utility legislation, and tenant rights laws.

    I think this is good, charge for speed or data transfer.
    But what about spammers flooding and other hostile attacks?
    Removing the ability for the corporation to limit user behaviour would requite the government to limit user behaviour, with the current situation (MPAA, RIAA, DMCA, and others issues of course) we may want to be careful what we wish for.

  • heh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Cave Dweller ( 470644 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @08:29AM (#3885368)
    The Institute for the Promotion of the Internet Protocol Utility (IPIPU) will be a non-profit association of users of Internet connectivity [...]
    How do you pronounce IPIPU? I-Pee-Poo?

    </joke>
    • How do you pronounce "utility"? If like "Y", as a native speaker would, then it's "A utility".

      How does one get to be an "editor" if one is illiterate and/or too lazy/arrogant to use a spell checker?

  • Public Utility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by idfrsr ( 560314 ) on Monday July 15, 2002 @08:30AM (#3885370)
    A public utility will have to be centrally regulated.
    Any such regulation, will also have to regulate things that are not in the public interest, because the public utility is for the benefit of the public.
    If this were to happen, how are we going do to decide what is in the public interest? We have a real hard time even with the sample of people that is slashdot deciding what is in the public interest. We could find that many things we enjoy about the internet (its anonymity, its freedom, its ability to share information) might become regulated for the public interest. We have all heard this argument before and what is happening in Australia [slashdot.org] is a perfect example [slashdot.org]

    This may sound like a paranoid rant, but I think its is something people should consider, before we make this kind of decision. Many bad ideas in the world started out as good ideas....
    • If people believe that "mean, evil ISPs" which exercise "undue influence" over politicians who allow themselves to be bought (e.g., Senator Disney) will be remedied by some kind of regulation, they are wrong. If the issue of regulation even comes up for a vote, these same corporations are going to simply buy enough senators and congressmen so that the regulations are written to favor them. The end result will be regulations which effectively keep the formerly unregulated companies unregulated still, but now legally bar any new competition from springing forward. That new bill that is going to outlaw fair-use is a perfect example of this.

      Now I don't blame the corporations for this, they are always out to protect their own interests, just as we all do. I blame the legislators who allow themselves to be bought for this problem. If something isn't for sale, there is no way anyone can buy it.

    • If this were to happen, how are we going do to decide what is in the public interest? We have a real hard time even with the sample of people that is slashdot deciding what is in the public interest.

      This is the whole problem addressed by the concept of "The Social Contract"

      Problem being, people have gotten so used to the system that they treat it like a video game, trying to get as many trinkets out of the system as possible, instead of working together for the greater community. Thus we have things like the preamble of the US Constitution:

      • We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America
      This is an attempt at a social contract. This was hot and radical political thought at the time it was written.

      These days people some people might not relate to this. but the issues are very relevant.

      Just take a look at your question.

      • Well said.
        It is not very often that people even think of "working together for the greater community" as you have put it, and this is too bad.
        • It is not very often that people even think of "working together for the greater community" as you have put it, and this is too bad

          Often people who believe in "working together for the greater community" really mean "working to put my particular centrally-planned socialist idea in place, even if it reduces 'the blessings of liberty' or 'the general welfare'."
  • by Thinkit2 ( 591980 )
    This will have to get sorted out before we do increased addresses in IPv6.
  • by jcam2 ( 248062 )
    This guy seems to think that the internet is in
    danger of fragmenting into parts controlled by
    separate companies that are unable to communicate
    with each other, and that the solution to this
    'problem' is a single centrally controlled IP
    utility. Yet he provides zero evidence that this
    is actually happening!

    Because there are so many ISPs and carriers, none
    of them would dare to cut off connectivity to
    each other. Maybe if there was some mega-ISP that
    controlled 90% of the market then it would make
    sense for it cut off competitors .. but that is
    not the case today.

    So what exactly is the current real-world problem
    that this 'IP utility' is supposed to solve?

    • I think it is already happening. Many service providers, either in their service agreements or physically in their firewalls, are blocking access to music file sharing programs, or are forbidding customers to provide services of their own like http, mail, chat, etc. Also, assymetric connections prevent customers from using peer to peer video conferencing, high speed file sharing, etc.

      The reasons for ISP's not providing a purely raw IP service are many ranging from bandwidth constraints (and profit) to security, however, unless there is some supervision (either by consumer demand or govt regulation), I see no reason for this trend to improve for the consumer.
      • All those bandwidth constraints exist to prevent
        customers from over-using 'unlimited' broadband
        services. If they didn't exist, ISPs would have
        to start charging by the byte instead .. why may
        be a good thing.

      • In general this is due to physical limitations of the infrastructure. In particular in the case of broadband the system is piggybacking on the cable network and thus can handle much more downstream traffic than upstream. So http requests work fine but web servers don't. An easy way to see this is note that DSL which is symmetrical doesn't have there types of limitations. I don't see how regulation is going to resolve a fundamental design issue like this.

        Cable modems are cheap because they used existing infrastructure which was "close enough" to what was needed for the average home internet user. If the average home internet user becomes a user who requires high speed uploads and downloads, that is similar to the average business user then the nation is going to have to implement an entire infrastructure to support this which will be expensive.
  • Why not set up a universal satellite network?

    It would offer universal connectivity. Ideally, it would use IPv6 as the network bases. It would be a separate network but still have built in gateways to the old internet (IPv4). That way you could preserve the function of old network while building the new network.

    Everyone will simply apply for a free bank of IP#'s that follows them anywhere they go(111.222.33.44.XXX.XXX). XM radio already can transmit to terrestrial sources. Digital cell phone technology could be modified to transmit to the same celestial sources. Ideally a unique biological identifier would be used to associate your bank of IP number's with your identity.
    • One word (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rupert ( 28001 )
      Latency.

      You don't notice it on your XM radio, because it's all one way. The various satellite IP systems I've seen have played rather scary games with the network stack in order to get some semblance of performance (and even then, not nearly as good as cable or DSL).
    • Let me get this straight... you're arguing for a very expensive, high-latency satellite-based network when other solutions are available and would probably be cheaper and easier to maintain (very hard to repair satellites) in the long run, AND you want to create the ultimate Big Brother by giving everyone a unique IP associated to some biologic identifier (fingerprint, retina, iris, DNA)?

      I can see it now. I'd hate to be the first poor victim of an IP spoof... talk about identity theft!

      By the way, satellite phones exist. They are hella expensive, and most are seriously clunky. I prefer the convenience of my tiny Nokia 8260 to the satellite phone I carry in my truck...
  • "Connectivity is the fundamental service of the Internet, yet it is connectivity that suffers first when network providers compete for users and services."

    Anyone else see something grievously wrong with that? The way to compete for users is to deny them the product/service they're seeking? Preposterous. No one, not DSLcos, cable companies, other ISPs, is going to abridge your connectivity and get away with it. Not in the long run, and not without the aid of the force of law.

    So Roadrunner has decided to block Kazaa. Any of their customers that really care about it are going to jump ship. But the real culprit there is not business but government, since if there were no potential legal trouble looming (trouble which is brought on by bad law, not bad business), there would be no incentive to block Kazaa or any other service. Some will point to the "IM wars" as an example of broken connectivity. Bogus. In IM, the nodes connecting aren't /computers/ they're /people/. So long as you can run multiple services' clients simultaneously (or better yet, Trillian), you have meaningful connectivity.

    Other than that, I can't think of a single example of connectivity-breaking. On the most basic level, the more a service provider limits the usefulness of the internet, the less value they provide their customers, giving their customers an incentive to switch to a competitor or do without.

    This guy failed Econ 101.
    • So Roadrunner has decided to block Kazaa. Any of their customers that really care about it are going to jump ship

      I'm receiving broadband in my home that would have cost thousands of dollars per month not that long ago, for $40/month! I don't see why everyone is complainng (except, of course, for the reason that everyone loves to complain.) You don't get something for nothing.

      Obviously home broadband has come a long way, and there will be stumbling blocks to determine how to provide desired service for reasonable prices. If you drop cable and pick up DSL, that will be a clear market signal ;) That's why markets exist.

      The Kazaa situation is bad - those that are power users of the service are using much more broadband than "surf/email" users. Someone has to pay for the capital investment of thousands of routers and the operating costs of sysadmins, help desk, and install people. Every broadband home takes years to recoup the investment, even for "surf/email" homes.

      Moreover, Kazaa primarilly deals in the illegal exchange of copyrighted works, which is a serious liability problem for the provider (in these post Enron days, I supposed we're all concerned with corporate liability).

      Until YOU elect a Congress that will make piracy legal, Kazaa is a threat to the provider.
  • Institute for the Promotion of the Internet Protocol Utility.

    Um, the IPIPU? Personally, I'd never let myself be associated with an organization pronounced "eye pee eye poo."

  • I work for a next generation netwroks telecommunications firm. Qos is implemented just about every VoIP setup we produce. VoIP is extremely difficult without QoS. Currently there are several "Super" utility very close to deployment, and he failed to mention any of them. VoIP with cable internet and DSL runs flawlessly, as long as QoS is implemented along the border routers. You can get your cable TV, telephone service, and high speed internet all over one line. And it will work, because the next generation of switches either will or does already implement QoS, CoS, or ToS on one layer or another. And, the emerging VoIP market knows that they MUST be compatible with other carriers in the market or they will have NO chance of remote success. VoIP also works with DSL, but does not work with satellite (obviously 250ms latency is WAY over the 150ms standard set by the FCC for voice) THe one wire solution IS a real solution, the only barriers being your ILECS and their lack of capital and unwillingness to provide you with a true one wire solution. This solution uses IPv4, which will last until the nextgen network requires, adn the masses will use, an address for every electronic device they own my 2 cents
  • The author makes the assumption that the service that cable modem and other broadband providers should be selling is interconnection of networks. In that case, he is right that "basic" service consists of (a) giving the subscriber a network address and netmask, and (b) routing their packets. Presumably it would be up to the subscriber to handle domain hosting, mail service, etc.

    In practice, there are relatively few people out there who want to buy this type of service. As a result, current broadband service focuses on operating a subnet to which subscribers connect individual hosts. Even in those few situations where the cable operator allows multiple devices, the model is almost always one with multiple independent hosts, not a true subnet.

    If the market eventually demands (and is willing to pay for) network connectivity instead of simple host support, the broadband operators will undoubtedly offer it as an option.

  • Since AT&T has had competition from MCI, Sprint, Verizon, etc., the price for a long distance call has dropped dramatically. And yet, despite which carrier I choose, I can call anyone I know with normal phone service, no matter which carriers they've chosen. I believe a similar system for the internet is the best way to lower costs, improve efficiency, etc. The govt. on the other hand doesn't have the same incentive if the internet were made a utility. Therefore, in this case, you get whatever they feel like giving you, at whatever price they decide to set. The govt. has no motivation to make it cheaper or better.

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