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[ NNSquad ] Re: Irish Times: "A modest proposal on internet neutrality"-- the dangers of baking in our naive assumptions

I just posted http://rmf.vc/?n=unbaked which goes into more details about
why baking in some services does real harm and why it betrays the
generativity of the Internet.

Let's be careful about demanding mathematical models because it's about the
assumptions. If the assumptions are wrong or not captured in the math all
the spreadsheet calculations do is give an aura of false authority to the
numbers and that can have very foolish consequences -- like derivatives.

And let's be extra wary of any system that requires gaming gamers in order
to prevent gaming. What if I use up my allocation on cute kittens and then
have a heart attack?

Baking in services is problematic in the first place -- who is the
intelligent designer? You need all sorts of complicated mechanisms in order
to implement let alone enforce any policy. Who provides allocations and
assigns priorities? Where do you do your measurements? And what is the
entity that loses privileges -- an application, a user, a machine, a
corporation, a family, a phone account?

If ISPs set the rules then what is a valid purpose other than maximizing
their revenue and preventing disruption to customers who dislike the
newfangled applications.

The more fundamental problem is that such policies miss the point of why the
Internet is so generative -- it's because we can discover what we can do
with what is available rather than waiting from 1970 to 2010 until someone
sells us HSI (High Speed Internet).

We didn't wait -- in 1993 we could do the web using dial up modems at a time
when 1200bps was fast. And it was exciting and wonderful. Yes, today have
lots more glitz but that's because it is available so we gravitated to use
it. If we had more availability and less speed the applications you are
starting to use on your portable devices would have already been far more
common because they are useful and voice (telephony) would've been just
another app. It's just that we couldn't assume availability. Even today
carriers are telling us we're using up their cellular bits and that we each
need to help out ATT by getting Wi-Fi from someone else. That's pretty
extreme QoS -- where I'm maximizing their service not mine.

As I keep saying we need to be careful about assuming bits have an intrinsic
purpose (as I said in http://rmf.vc/?n=IPPvD).

We shouldn't be trying to harden today's Internet as if history is at an
end. We haven't begun to learn what is possible.

-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org
[mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com@nnsquad.org] On Behalf Of
Barry Gold
Sent: Saturday, August 14, 2010 13:07
To: nnsquad
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Re: Irish Times: "A modest proposal on internet

Lauren Weinstein wrote:
> 1) Confusing RFCs that are explicitly "informational only" with IETF
>    standards is sloppy and not recommended.
> 2) Dan Bricklin's essay: "Why We Don't Need QOS: Trains, Cars, and
>    Internet Quality of Service" is still very good reading:
>    http://bit.ly/bL1W1J  (Dan Bricklin's Web Site)

I found Bricklin's essay interesting, but was bothered by the lack of either
hard data or a well-founded mathematical model to back up his assertions and

> My own view is that there may be some role for carefully crafted QoS
> -- but that a) it's critical that it not be capable of being unfairly
> "gamed" - b) its use should be as limited as possible - c) if used at
> all, it should generally apply equally to all traffic of the same
> class - d) you should not be able to "buy" higher priority for
> arbitrary data across the public Internet - and e) I'd much prefer to
> see bandwidth capacity increases avoid the need for QoS at all.

I'll reassert my proposed solution: each customer is allocated up to X
amount of "high priority" traffic per time period (second? minute? hour?
month? -- maybe different levels for each?), up to Y amount of "medium
priority."  The user chooses which packets will have what priority (well,
actually the application chooses, but the user chooses which apps to use).
If a user tries to exceed his allocation, his "high priority"
traffic is automatically downgraded to "medium" and then to "low".

This is, I believe, self-correcting.  Yes, BT can try to "game" the system
by marking its packets high priority -- except that after the first few Kb
(in a second) or GB (in a day or month), those packets will be downgraded.
And if the user is trying to use VoIP and has a BT client using up his
high-priority allocation, he'll see really lousy performance on his VoIP.
Then he calls up support and is told, "Your
BT(*) traffic used up your high-priority allocation.  If you'd like to
uninstall that, I can then give you a temporary allocation so your voice
traffic (or gaming traffic) will work better.:"

(*) Or whatever app is trying to game the system for more bandwidth -- and
the chances are the ISP can figure out what app that is, either by looking
at the packets as they go by, or by traffic analysis.