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[fccboston08] FCC Hearing: Panel 2: Statements

NOTE: I am live-blogging. Not re-reading for errors. There are guaranteed to be errors of substance, stand point and detail. Caveat reader.

Daniel Weitzner of MIT says the entire Web is peer-to-peer, although not technically. People use the Net in a synchronous, P2P manner. E.g., pages are pulled together from info all over. We depend on the open nature of the Web to enable that.

Richard Bennett (network architect): Does free speech require abandoning the active mgt of net traffic? If so, then we have to shut down the Internet. Is it legit to manage the Net by discriminating by application? The Net and its constituent nets serve different apps. E.g., VOIP needs to avoid jitter. It makes sense to move apps that don’t care about jitter (e.g., email) to the back of the queue. BitTorrent is insensitive to jitter; you care about the time between first and last packet, but not jitter of individual packets….except for apps like Vuze, but RB doubts Vuze’s business viability. If we abandon app discriminatory we have to get rid of IP because it includes info about the app in the packets. Get rid of Wifi because QoS discriminates among apps. Get rid of difference between UDP and TCP. We have to get rid of discrimination within their own homes. Even on Ethernet we have to discriminate among apps, e.g., WoS for audio systems to avoid lipsynching issues If you add capacity to a network, you’ve only moved the bottleneck from the first hop to the second hop. NN would inhibit rural delivery since it depends on wifi. So, sit back. We’ll solve it with more bandwidth and with revisions of the apps that use it, like BitTorrent.

David Clark says that TV is central here because it increases the traffic and it’s a collision of pricing models. We should be partnering, not fighting. Let’s talk about business model. The usage cost to Comcast for a month of user usage might be around $0.50. TV usage is 40 times as much (taking reasonable estimates), i.e., $20/month to cover your user costs. What’s going to give is the all you can eat flat rate pricing. We have to find a way that will be acceptable to the user. David likes selling tiers of consumption.

David says he finds the blocking of particular apps “troubling.” The ISP should not be imposing a value judgment on the consumer. That makes the customer into an enemy.

He says that they put desired-QoS and app bits in the header is so that the user could decide what apps and QoS s/he wants. He says that discrminating in favor of VOIP bits is not a violation of NN but he’d rather let users decide. He’d rather decide where to draw the line through case law than by a policy. So, ultimately he’s against the FCC adopting a policy.

Eric Klinker of BitTorrent explains why BT was invented: To move large files. He lists legit users of BT. Why, even Hollywood studios! If Comcast is allowed to block this class of app, it would stamp out “the most promising technology we have to do to deliver a near infinite” set of content.

David Reed (MIT): Providing Net access implies adherence to protocols and standards essential to a world wide net. Variance damages the Net and all its uses. Industry standard processes exist for disclosure, etc. Comcast’s secretive attempt to provide non-standard mgt is a problem. Access do not create the Internet. They provide access as part of a much large system. The Net is a network of networks that results from voluntary compliance with standards and protocols. You just have to agree to play by the ground rules. These ground rules have been around or 30 years. You have to agree to send on Internet datagrams. [He has a prop!] The content is inside the packet “envelope.” The content is meaningful only to the sender and receiver. The participating networks agree not to alter the contents. When congestion becomes extreme, it’s normal to discard the envelope because the sender is responsible for re-transmitting it. The Net was designed from the beginning to manage congestion. The network cannot eliminate it. It requires the senders to cooperate and slow down. This requires acceptance of standards. This is all part of the standard Internet. But Comcast unilaterally and secretly used its own mgt techniques, doing deep packet inspection and sending RST packets. This violates the expectations of users that the content of envelope will not be read. If the standard methods aren’t adequate, the provider should bring the situation to the IETF. Otherwise, Comcast is not providing access to the Internet, but to a selected portion of the Internet.

Scott Smyers, Senior Vice President, Network & Systems Architecture Division, Sony Electronics Inc. Sony thinks the Net is the future of delivery of TV. He believes in competition. I can’t tell what he thinks about Net neutrality.

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