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[ NNSquad ] Re: Comments on NNSquad Purpose

> -----Original Message-----
> Subject: [ NNSquad ] Re: Comments on NNSquad Purpose
> While I agree that Net Neutrality has been sometimes 
> described as preventing the situation of paying extra for 
> higher performance of favored applications, it is not an apt 
> description.
> Using the Comcast P2P interference as an example, in this 
> case, Comcast has degraded the performance of a non-favored 
> application.
> The end result is the same.
I'm struggling with the idea that the end result is the same.

In the Comcast, Bell Sympatico and Rogers cases we have a situation
where customers sign up for what is marketed as an "all you can eat as
quickly as you can eat it, all the time" plan only to find out that
there are severe limitations on how the plan can be used and in addition
the service provider refuses to acknowledge that there are any
boundaries at all and won't provide information on when those boundaries
are applied.

In a "paying extra for higher performance" situation (which is arguably
what customers in the above case thought they were getting) the customer
chooses higher performance, perhaps dynamically, understanding that they
will perhaps pay a premium for that performance.

In one situation the customer gets what they want provided they can pay
for it, and in the other the customer does not get what they want even
though they think they have paid for it. How are these end results the

I think the fundamental issue is actually about the marketing department
setting customer expectations and then the company either reneging on
their commitment, or realising they had oversold their capacity due to
higher than expected demand. In either case taking extreme network
management measures to preserve acceptable performance for the majority
of their customers is fairly short-sighted - let's hope it's a temporary
action. The better long term solutions are to either upgrade the network
to support the demand (and future growth), or as in the case of
electricity utilities, provide incentives for users to conserve.
Typically conservation incentives take the form of deeper discounts the
less capacity is used by a customer.

Let's consider a real world example. My pay-as-you-go cellphone service
charges something like 25c per minute for voice calls and 15c per text
message - it's a bit more complicated than that, but let's keep it
simple. Since both voice calls and text messages are effectively just
packages of bits I think by the most general definition this defies Net
Neutrality - so perhaps charging separately for text messaging and voice
is a Bad Thing. On the other hand, under this plan I am able to maintain
an effective monthly payment that is less than half of the minimum
"monthly plan" subscription available to me so I'm pretty happy that Net
Neutrality is not preserved in this case. 

A heavier user would find my plan fairly expensive on a monthly basis
and would likely opt for a monthly plan instead. The key factor is that
the terms of service are very clearly laid out for them - 400min talk
time per month, free evenings and weekends, and so forth. As a result
the user on a monthly plan can readily modify their behaviour to ensure
there are no additional charges, or that they maintain the service they
expect to get.

In summary then, I'm arguing that the term Net Neutrality is not a very
useful idea if what you are really trying to address is the failure to
properly disclose the terms of use to the customer. Another problem with
the concept of Net Neutrality is that it isn't always a good thing -
there are very clear situations where defying Net Neutrality principles
is a good thing for the customer.

Looking forward to discussing this further.


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