NNSquad - Network Neutrality Squad

NNSquad Home Page

NNSquad Mailing List Information


[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ NNSquad ] Re: Comments on NNSquad Purpose

Its certainly not an argument we've asked the CRTC to regulate. In fact the opposite is true, we've made arguments to them that this should in fact be the way Internet is sold, and we've praised those companies like Bell Canada who have begun to price in this way. But ISPs have started placing caps/limits and are STILL interfering with traffic usage -- which is just wrong and potentially false advertising.

They have to enforce the caps somehow!

Counting bytes is simple, cutting users off at a certain amount is simple, charging them more for going over said amount is simple.

 Also, in some cases, there are not just caps but prohibitions incorporated into the terms of service.

And we have a problem with those prohibitions. Who gave the ISPs the authority to decide what applications or services are legitimate or who will be allowed to be a competitor with carrier-offered services like VoIP and Video offerings.

 In that case, it's appropriate and in keeping with the user's contract to stop the traffic cold (as with BitTorrent, Limewire, or GNUtella). 

I think your definition of appropriate and mine differ.

I approve of Comcast's blocking and active termination of BitTorrent transactions, both because they are enforcing their terms of service and because, as a musician, author, and artist (when I get the time to do these things; I'm now devoting 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, to the ISP) 

The network is not the layer at which to enforce copyright law. (Which is a very separate debate)

I know that BitTorrent's primary use is to infringe copyrights and deprive folks like me of compensation.

I would be careful making statements like this, I'm fairly sure BitTorrent Inc wouldn't appreciate it.

 And, as an ISP, I know that BitTorrent is hurting my quality of service.

Its easy to play the blame game; I'd argue that your not having access to more upstream bandwidth at a reasonable price is hurting your QoS.

It's a way to shift [the bandwidth burden] to the consumer 

No; it shifts to the consumer's ISP. It's a load on the ISP's network that would not otherwise be there.

I'm pretty sure that the consumer interest will be there regardless of what distribution technology is used. If the user is billed for their usage in a fair manner, than P2P will reflect what it really is, a service that consumers pay for through a portion of the bandwidth they are willing to buy.

and have them participate in the distribution of content. It's not an assault on the ISP, and that's not it's purpose. When New Media uses bittorrent, it is mostly to improve distribution speeds, 

At the ISP's expense. And make no mistake: the expense is shouldered SOLELY by the ISP. The user (who pays a flat rate for service) does not pay more, but the ISP does.
You've just explained how the user doesn't pay a flat rate. There are different levels of DSL, Cable, Leased lines -- even different caps and throughputs on all those mediums. The user should be allowed to use the service that they pay for -- in essence you're feeling entitled to market one service and deliver another. All we're asking for is a little truth in advertising and to let the market decide what a fair rate for transfer and bandwidth is.

They are becoming servers, which means that their owners should buy server bandwidth. We are more than willing to sell it to them, but they may not like the price that we have to charge to break even. Wholesale Internet bandwidth is expensive.
Wholesale bandwidth is in the range of 5-10 cents a gig for bi-directional traffic. At 50 gigs/mo this works out to $2.50 to $5.00 on a $40/mo plan. Of course this isn't last-mile bandwidth, but it seems to be the apples you're comparing.

As for making it 'harder to stop' for illegal activity, this isn't one of the goals of bittorrent. 

Sure it is. And features such as MSE/PE are specifically intended to make illegal activity even harder to trace and stop.

I'd argue that these features are intended to increase privacy when using torrents in a lawful way. They also make it harder to shape traffic, and result from network interference. I recently read an article on how people are using SSH tunneling to bypass shaping... should we ban SCP, SSH from the networks too? Where does it end, and why would the ISP get to make that call.

If you have any doubt that BitTorrent's primary use is illegal activity, go to the busiest BitTorrent site in the world -- thepiratebay.org -- and look at the "Top 100" page. Every one is illegal. In short, legal files are not even in the top 1% of TITLES, much less the top 1% of traffic.
Why would one goto a 'pirate' site to see how BitTorrent is being used?

That would totally ignore all substantial non-infringing uses like diggnation ( http://revision3.com/diggnation/ ) and other new media that are using bittorrent rss as a distribution medium.

Lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

It _might_ be a side-effect, but its certainly not the goal and everyone has the right to assume the technology will be used lawfully.

Not so. If you possess a burglary tool, in many jurisdictions it is automatically assumed (and justifiably so) that it will be used unlawfully.
Again, BT is no more malicious than FTP, SCP, HTTP or any other protocol. All, especially ftp, have been used to for infringing activity. Fortunately the legitimate use of these technologies was not stifled and we now have the Internet we know today.
That's about the limit. 60 gigs per month is 2 gigs per day. 2 gigabytes divided by 24 hours is 89 megabytes an hour, or 1.5 megabytes a minute, or 200 Kbps continuous. Which, as it happens, is exactly the rate to which Verizon states it will throttle users if they exceed a normal duty cycle.
This also happens to be a power-user, multimedia level of net usage. I'm sure there are those who would like to pay less for a 5gig/mo plan. No one is arguing for price controls, just let the market figure out what bandwidth is actually worth.
And at that price, they aren't making much money, if any. Backbone bandwidth at WHOLESALE costs from $100 to $500 per megabit per second per month. Do the math.... That means that 200 Kbps, continuously, costs $20 to $100 per month! (In our area, it is at the high end of that range.) And that's not including salaries, electricity, tech support costs, hardware, and everything else it takes to make our network run. We, as a rural ISP, would lose money at Verizon's cap, so our cap is 128 Kbps.
Bandwidth costs vary depending on where its being connected. The common retail bandwidth cost is between 5 and 10 cents per gigabyte transferred. Again the math works out (0.05*50) to about $2.50/account per month. And thats assuming people actually use all the bandwidth they've been sold -- they typically don't. My guess is the average bandwidth cost per user in a competitive metropolitan area is more like $1/account per month. I'm not saying bandwidth isn't more expensive where there is limited competition, or where the connection is rural, but even in these cases wholesale rates don't exceed 25 cents per gig which is still only $12.50 per account at the maximum usage level.
Don't blame us for that; that's what it costs us. We are currently engaged in getting quotes for a new DS-3, and prices have gone UP, not down, since we sought quotes a year ago. You would think they would have gone down, but they haven't -- probably due  to consolidation in the backbone fiber industry. (Level3 has taken over Wiltel and Broadwing, and SBC has taken over and "become" AT&T.)
You want to argue there's too much consolidation at the backbone for real competition -- we're there with yeh =P
What do we do? Firstly, when our rules detect that a user is doing obvious P2P, we try to throttle just the P2P traffic (we know how the various P2P programs communicate) back to a relatively low bandwidth.
So those users can't actually use the advertised amount of transfer?

 If we see a general high level of usage (possibly encrypted P2P tunneled through a VPN), the entire connection is dropped to 128 Kbps. That keeps us from losing money... just barely.
So when the user buys a 256kbps dsl from you with a 50/gig per month cap, and actually tries to use it -- you throttle em back to 128? _This is why the neutrality issue exists_
If you want credibility in this area, then you'll have to make your costs public, and show the public a defensible financial argument. So far, there hasn't been one.

I've shared quite a bit with you above.
I was thinking more along the lines of a study by a reputable firm, with defensible evidence and that is available for peer review.

I don't need a full 1.5 mbps pipe 24/7. 

If you are using BitTorrent, you will consume that much. Maybe more. Ditto if you become a Kazaa or Skype "supernode" or install Limewire on your machine. (You don't even have to be running it in the foreground; when you start your PC it will begin running in the background and start sucking bandwidth.)

But I don't use BT that way, I might use 400 megs/mo in BT traffic -- I'm sure you've got users who do nothing but BT. Thats their choice how they want to use the service they've been sold. If you're overselling your service, thats simply not our fault -- in fact, we want to help you sell your service in a clear and transparent manner such that your competitor(s?) also play by the same rules.

There absolutely is a solid financial reason. If you wanted to average 100 gigs per month, we could throttle you to 384 Kbps and let you run at that bandwidth continuously. You would then cost your ISP between $40 and $200 per month (closer to the high end, in our case) just for bandwidth! That's before other expenses (we have to pay techs to maintain the network, and you do want someone to answer the phone if you call for support, right?) and before we make a penny of profit. So, you should expect to pay substantially more than $50 per month. This is not rocket science. You can work it out on a four function calculator -- or on the back of a napkin, as I am doing as I type this.

Your bandwidth costs seem outrageously high and would put the wholesale cost at $2/gig transferred. That doesn't seem correct to me, and its certainly not industry competitive. The low end of your range at $0.40/gig is still well above market rates.

What we're arguing is that ISPs should not be allowed to create a situation where they are a) gatekeepers and censors of content and applications 

It is not censorship to enforce our terms of service, any more than blocking spam or the Slammer worm is "censorship."

No but it is censorship to block a unions website and it is being a gatekeeper to decide what content gets preferential treatment. These are separate arguments from that of simple common carrier bandwidth issues -- they also happen to be rolled under Net Neutrality because the purported solution to your bandwidth woes is to pick and choose what traffic is illegitimate and then prevent users from doing those activities, instead of correctly charging users in proportion to what they use.

b) unaccountable for provisioning adequately 

You won't pay me to provision "adequately" (at least by your definition of adequacy).
I'll pay what the market demands -- and I'll expect to get what I'm sold. It works for telephones and every other common carrier industry.

and c) allowed to profit in from the resource scarcity which they have control over.

We have no control over any "scarcity" of backbone bandwidth. We go to Sprint, AT&T, etc. and pay what it costs. The price is clearly higher than you would like (and also higher than WE would like.) Whether this is due to scarcity, market concentration, or legitimately high costs on the part of the backbone providers doesn't matter. We have no power to change it. We can only negotiate the best prices we can.

You say this like the backbone is the only competitor. Does your ISP offer a VoIP or IPTV or music store product? Do you throttle your competitors users? Our ISPs are doing just this -- some charge QoS fees for VoIP, others interfere with video bittorrent or p2p transfers, some have even waxed poetic about tariffing itunes, amazon.com etc saying they get 'free shipping' on their pipes.

The word delamination gets thrown around in the Canadian debate, but I've not heard it south of the border.
Surely this makes sense....

Please review what I've written above. Once you've done the math yourself, maybe you'll understand.
My math works out differently than yours -- but even if it were as you painted, you would have only successfully made the argument that bandwidth isn't being sold at market rates; I remain unconvinced that you should have the right to tell users how to use their service, decide what protocols are legitimate or to throttle heavy users to rates less than they paid for. If you make some gravy from users who don't use up the bandwidth they buy, great. Maybe the market starts offering 'rollover' type caps where what you don't use one month, gets added on the next. Who knows -- thats for the market to decide. But at the end of the day, don't cry foul or start mucking with the service when users actually use what they've bought.