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[ NNSquad ] Re: Comments on NNSquad Purpose

Russell Smiley wrote:
>> -----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. ...
Well -- let's be careful here. Specifically, let's be careful about who 
is paying for the better performance. Follow the money.

The common references to "net neutrality" have been focused on the idea 
of paying money for "higher performance" -- but this money was not to be 
paid by the end user. The issue was that the ISPs were toying with the 
idea of charging "content providers," (e.g., YouTube), a premium to 
ensure that their traffic receives sufficient priority so as to be "good 
quality" for the end users. If YouTube didn't pay the fee, their traffic 
might have such a slow throughput or drop enough packets that end users 
wouldn't want to watch. Meanwhile, the ISP might themselves have a video 
site sister company that receives the high priority. This was the 
initial jumping-off point for the net-neutrality concerns.
> 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
> same?
> 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.
> Russell

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