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[ NNSquad ] The Carriers are trying to take back control of the home network

With all the focus on neutrality in the provider networks we must not lose sight of what is happening in our own homes.


As with some of the efforts to make the networks work better (as measured in the providers’ paternalistic) view, their attempt to retake the home is about serving us better by reducing the operators’ costs. “Better” is of course in terms of the operator’s own measures. It’s not quite the same as in 1995 when providers opposed home networks and want to charge us for each machine but it isn’t much different in that they are imposing their business model on us.


Verizon’s FiOS is very much in the spirit of Cable Companies in using CoAX to distribute the video around the house but the difference is that the traffic is IP-based and comingled with other traffic in the home. The justification as per http://www.mocalliances.org is that video requires Coax even as their own VoD goes over standard IP and standard Ethernet cable. Why can’t we just run our own network wires to their set top boxes. If the networks don’t function well enough the boxes would detect that and report it to us and/or the provider. That would be far more efficient than having to build a high cost hardened network. And when we try to use more video streams than the network supports we can be told that instead of just seeing digital noise as the bits fight it out with no resilience.


Two more recent efforts – the HomeGrid and ATIS – go a step further in imposing the ITU/Carrier vision of networking on our homes. It’s as if they view the physical layer as the network and problems like QoS can be solved with the right hardware. It reminds me of IEEE-1394 that failed for this very reason. You can’t depend on QoS lest applications fail if the circumstances change. We see an example of how ‘cable” video fails by breaking up whereas “Internet” video fails gracefully by reducing resolution and/or adaptive buffering.


Network neutrality is just as much an issue within our homes as in the rest of the infrastructure. Maybe more so.


Accepting the carriers’ definition of networking invites the camel back into our homes. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camel's_nose for more on the metaphor). We let the carriers’ bad engineering decisions be used as a justification of ceding control of our homes.