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Thread: Net Non-neutrality in Action: Netflix vs. ISPs vs. Consumers

  1. #1
    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Arrow Net Non-neutrality in Action: Netflix vs. ISPs vs. Consumers

    Required reading: Why YouTube buffers: The secret deals that make—and break—online video

    [Users] who suspect their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) intentionally degrade streaming video may be right as well. No, your ISP (probably) isn't sniffing your traffic every time you click a YouTube or Netflix link, ready to throttle your bandwidth. But behind the scenes, in negotiations that almost never become public, the world's biggest Internet providers and video services argue over how much one network should pay to connect to another. When these negotiations fail, users suffer. In other words, bad video performance is often caused not just by technology problems but also by business decisions made by the companies that control the Internet.

    These business decisions involve "peering" agreements that Internet companies make to pass traffic from one to another and negotiations over caching services that store videos closer to people's homes so they can load faster in your browser. When Internet providers refuse to upgrade peering connections, traffic gets congested. When ISPs refuse to use the caching services offered by the likes of Google and Netflix, video has to travel farther across the Internet to get to its final destination—your living room. [...]

    [N]etwork operators can degrade traffic by failing to upgrade connections without severing them entirely. The public won't realize that's what's going on unless negotiations become so contentious that one party makes them public—or a government decides to investigate.

    Degraded connections disproportionately affect the quality of streaming video because video requires far more bits than most other types of traffic. Netflix and YouTube alone account for nearly half of all Internet traffic to homes in North America during peak hours, according to research by SandVine. And customers are far more likely to be annoyed by a video that stutters and stops than by a webpage taking a few extra seconds to load. [...]

    "The funny thing" about these disputes is how little money is involved, van der Berg said. The French telecom regulator ARCEP has found that money changing hands between operators for peering and transit, plus the amount paid to third parties that host Internet exchange points, is equal to just 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent of revenue generated by the supply of Internet access to end users.
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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net Non-neutrality in Action: Netflix vs. ISPs vs. Consumers

    I'm guessing you added the "Net Neutrality" heading on your own? This really doesn't sound like a net neutrality issue. Peerage is about traffic from "peer" networks. The only reason streaming video would be disproportionately affected is because it takes up a similarly disproportionate volume of traffic. So even if the traffic is treated indifferently, it can still be a problem just from the sheer volume of traffic and the low tolerance for latency.

    Also, from a network admin background, YouTube makes it intentionally difficult to cache their content- they don't want you doing it. We were getting some great results with a pair of squid cache boxes at my last job- one of the notable exceptions was YouTube. None of its content would cache.
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  3. #3
    Nobody expects the Senior Member Lemur's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net Non-neutrality in Action: Netflix vs. ISPs vs. Consumers

    I'm guessing you didn't read the article, or skimmed it (I've often been guilty of skimmage).

    One obvious question to ask is whether ISPs refusing to upgrade peering connections could violate net neutrality laws. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Open Internet Order prevents ISPs from blocking content or unreasonably discriminating against third-party traffic. ISPs that sell their own video services while simultaneously degrading other video traffic might seem to be violating the principles of net neutrality, but they're likely not violating the letter of the law.

    The FCC's Open Internet Order makes only one reference to peering: "We do not intend our rules to affect existing arrangements for network interconnection, including existing paid peering arrangements."

    Susan Crawford, a former tech policy advisor to President Obama and author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry & Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, told Ars via e-mail that this exception for network interconnection agreements including paid peering "is an enormous problem. If we focus only on discrimination vis a vis users' access to applications, we're missing a huge part of the story. Network operators in the US are now sufficiently powerful that they can pinch traffic farther upstream as well as pinch traffic in the last mile." [...]

    "We'll be in line with our hand out if Comcast is getting paid [by Netflix] and Time Warner is getting paid," Jacoby said. "But there are network neutrality implications, there are a lot of questions I'd want to see answered before just going and shaking them down. What threat do we have? We're going to make service bad for our customers? We're not going to do that. Some of the other cable companies are willing to do that, but we're not going to. Being the little guy, that's the competitive position, and that's the differentiation."

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them ... well, I have others." — Groucho Marx

  4. #4
    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Net Non-neutrality in Action: Netflix vs. ISPs vs. Consumers

    One obvious question to ask is whether ISPs refusing to upgrade peering connections could violate net neutrality laws.
    And the obvious answer to the obvious question is "no".

    The thing that always gets to me about the "net neutrality" debate is that the discussions are always slanted towards the content providers, and therefore against the transport providers. The article in the OP states that nearly half the traffic flowing over the networks in question comes from just 2 sources- Netflix and Youtube. Then it insinuates that by not taking specific measures to accommodate those content providers, the network operators are somehow engaging in nefarious conduct.

    Wouldn't "net neutrality" mean that Netflix and Youtube traffic would get no special treatment? That's what is happening. Now you have this article knocking them for not giving their traffic special treatment.
    Last edited by Xiahou; 08-05-2013 at 13:47.
    "Don't believe everything you read online."
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