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[ NNSquad ] Re: Is the bandwidth hog a myth?

Benoit Felten of the Yankee Group challenges the "myth of the bandwidth hog" used by ISPs to fight network neutrality:


He argues that TCP is inherently fair (though he does not address UDP).

This is definitely not true; TCP implements a pretty weak form of "fairness" that is different (and worse) than the common sense definition of the term. George Ou and Lawrence Roberts have explained this several times.

Even assuming fair bandwidth sharing, it's questionable whether it's a good idea for an ISP to run a link at 100% utilization which tends to increase latency.

I agree that we should be worrying about actual congestion rather than just assuming that the customers who transfer the most data are likely to be causing any congestion that may exist. (To throw in an anecdote, I have noticed virtually no congestion on my broadband for years; perhaps none of my neighbors are "hogging" and thus no one in my neighborhood should be punished.) This type of monitoring will likely be more expensive than simply counting bytes, so we should be careful not to add too much cost here (I wouldn't want the Internet to becoming like the PSTN, which is a giant accounting/billing system that also completes phone calls).

Interestingly, the much-reviled Comcast is actually a leader in this area, with their protocol-neutral bandwidth management that tracks actual congestion (or "near-congestion"). Perhaps once this system has been improved with experience (I hesitate to say "perfected") Comcast will find that caps are unnecessary and do away with them.

Wes Felter