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North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Two Tiered Internet

  • From: Deepak Jain
  • Date: Wed Dec 14 00:06:34 2005

One might argue that in such a situation, the end user is getting
less value than they
did previously.  End users might then either demand a price break or
might vote with
their connectivity.

the last 2 times this has come up I think there was the suggestion that
given other options at reasonably close to the same end cost users might
switch to alternate access methods. That works as long as there are
alternate access methods, and as long as the telecom's don't 'cabal' and
all do the same hideously bad thing...

There are a few things that this trend would get involved with.

1) It pushes the "cost" of "peering" to the content providers, essentially bypassing the underlying upstream/transit networks. The upstream/transit networks that are essentially getting disenfranchised might react by not peering with "premium" networks that are trying to pull their customers from using their network.

2) The only way this scenario (prioritization) makes any difference is when there isn't sufficient capacity within the "premium" network. If there is sufficient capacity, this is no real issue. However, for example, assuming this were enabled today, a network would have no incentive whatsoever to upgrade its networks -- provided that the customer pain/deprioritized network traffic is low enough. (A ratio that can be experimentally determined).

In the example where end users get 6Mb/s for $50/month. It is conceivable that as part of this "upgrade/premium" service for end users... they'd get 60Mb/s downstream for $50/month. The network could provide this service at no increased operational cost because it only expects to push (whatever they currently push) of deprioritized traffic. (say 6mb/s assuming no over subscription).

They could then cover the costs (and profits) of this 60mb/s premium service through the fees of the so-called premium content pushers. And thus, they could make the argument that no one is being harmed and in fact the end users gain....

Except that as the non-premium traffic levels of their end users grows... they suffer. The network's answer? Pay for premium access aka paid transit aka level-2 peering..

3) The good news is that the RBOCs haven't learned how to run IP networks cost-effectively. Their costs of implementing this so-called "tier-2" network will far exceed the fees their model tells them they will get from it. Remember when they first got into the Internet Access business? They all tried to create their own premium content-portals, search engines, what-have-you. Then they outsourced/sold that function to networks like MSN. I doubt the majority of their users even care. AOL tried to keep their network proprietary. Didn't keep them swimming either.

They can do anything they want with their own bits on their own network (eventually, the FCC will concede). The problem is that anytime you deprioritize the traffic of others for no other reason than because it isn't yours... well that smells a lot like restraint of trade. The RBOCs become gate keepers not underlying bit pushers.

What about the censorship issues? If they won't accept *insert bad site here [porn, hate, etc]* /premium/ network's payments to push traffic across their network, but they will accept it (as they currently do) on a deprioritized level??

Its a mess and they'll spend billions and it will cause some pain, and it'll eventually be abandoned. [My prediction based on what little is known about this thing today and history].


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