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Looking at Net Neutrality Backwards?

Today in our dev meeting ISP cost came up (as a side topic) and led to net neutrality. Our senior dev brought up how, contrary to what I hear most often from techies etc., net neutrality does actually stifle solutions to common ISP issues.

The example that's throwing me into question is the Netflix Open Connect project. Netflix gives ISP's free boxes that basically contain most of Netflix so that the ISP doesn't have to handle that traffic the last mile and any previous choke points. My colleagues angle was that net neutrality, by banning Netflix paying the ISP any money, means that Netflix can't (or doesn't have to if the ISP opts to take the box anyway) pay for the electricity or whatever for the ISP to have that box sitting there, THUS stifling wider adoption of what I would consider to be a fairly good idea to get me my dang 4k Netflix.

Couldn't find much on it but here's an article explaining the box:

Here's an article that basically says net neutrality has become a way for Netflix not to have to help pay for things, for instance if an ISP takes the box, they can't ask Netflix to pay for electricity or whatever:

I'm not sure what I think of net neutrality now. Obviously the articles are old, sorry if this has been gone over already, but I don't recall anyone ever explaining bad that can come of net neutrality. Thoughts? Shouldn't it be OK for an ISP and Netflix or whoever to agree to copay for a last mile content box?


Mh, not sure about the netflix paying the electricity part, but:

There's a difference between Netflix paying for actual costs like electricity (which would have to be accessible to Netflix so they only pay what's due) vs. holding the data ransom Comcast style.

Paying for the costs to host the mirrors is totally fine since it's in the interests of all and they are not actually paying for the data to pass through, holding the data ransom is just a dick move from ISPs. Not sure how it's legally though... Just my opinion :stuck_out_tongue:

On a sidenote, there have been YouTube caches for ISPs for ages, which is basically the same.

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This would definitely be the case if ISPs weren't operating on some of the highest margins of any business in existence.

Yes, Net Neutrality stops ISPs from further monetizing their monopolies. No, that isn't an issue, they all have margins that make the people on the supply side of saffron and diamonds jealous. Yes, there are some fringe benefits in the short term for allowing them to do so. No, it isn't stifling anything, and no, Giving up net neutrality isn't worth nearly as much as those fringe benefits.

It's their responsibility to build and maintain infrastructure under American law. That's why we give them local monopolies.

If we have a brown-out, the power company doesn't cut all the factories on the grid off because they're the largest single sources, they find a way to generate (or buy) and deliver more power. Water treatment is the same deal; you don't see sewage geysers in the street because they don't want to build bigger pipes, it's part of their job to make sure the shit can flow free. Netflix is causing a pain-point for them because they haven't widened their pipes in years, and they love the smell of their own sewage.

TL;DR netflix did nothing wrong


Everything said.

That is a good argument, but I think it's slightly flawed.

Think about it this way - If Netflix gave the ISP a caching server to use exclusively for Netflix, would the ISP actually be prioritising Netflix Traffic? The server would probably help to decrease usage on parts of the network which don't have heavy Netflix usage, as the traffic won't have to take convoluted routes from far away servers. This would mean the ISP could put more resources into setting up and upgrading their own caching servers, as Netflix wouldn't be taking as big of a chunk - further reducing traffic on the larger scale.

It's something which benefits people on all sides. The ISP can invest more in other areas, people get better streams, Netflix potentially get more customers, and other sites/services don't have to contend as much with the huge amount of bandwidth Netflix uses.

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net neutrality has never existed and will never exist. The truth is that no government has any grasp on what ISP's and tier 1 bandwidth providers are doing. What is the biggest problem, net neutrality over free spotify on mobile or the fact that ALL ISP's EVERYWHERE are using DPI and NXDOMAIN hijacks on ALL TRAFFIC, and are selling the data and using it against their customers to further extort them, without ever really investing in bandwidth upgrades?

If we accept that net neutrality does not exist, but redefine legally what minimal bandwidth has to be achieved on every connection and prohibit data volume caps, we would actually make the big boys enter into competition with each other, they would start to invest in bandwidth upgrades, and prices would become lower, because you wouldn't be paying for that jobless binge watcher next door any more.

Net neutrality should start by telling ISP's to just leave the data alone in the first place. It serves no purpose defining net neutrality from the point of view of the content distributors like they are doing now, who cares if netflix can't distribute honestly... what matters is that the customers, the subscribers, have enough bandwidth, and blanket regulations will not help there, because ISP's are using DPI to throttle individually anyway. The problem is not mass discrimination, the problem is individual discrimination on a massive scale. The benchmark should be the receiving end, not the distributing end.

The whole net neutrality discussion as it is held now, is besides any point, it's just window dressing. The real issues are not addressed, because politicians do not understand it, because they are too corrupt, and because nobody is sure of himself enough to really do something about ISP abuse. For years now, pretty much the main business model of every supplier in the bandwidth business, from ISP's to bloody cloudflare, has been black hat hacking regardless of laws and regulations. Fuck net neutrality, if the real issues are dealt with, let them compete for the customers, don't let an absurd non-existent concept like net neutrality stand in the way of actual competition.


Or the ISPs (the telecoms) could just upgrade all their copper infrastructure to fiber, provide fiber to the home, fiber hookup, and offer fiber optic internet to everyone already so content delivery won't be a problem now and into the future, so everyone can have 4K streaming goodness (and I'll bet most people don't even have the hardware to display it). The rest of the developed world is fiber ready.

Except they don't do that, but in theory yes (which is the whole point of those cache proxies).

'Can' being the operative word lol

Right, I left out an important piece of the argument. If Netflix has these last mile boxes, upwards of 60% of the ISP's bandwidth is freed up for other things. Maybe net neutrality shouldn't preclude Netflix from associated costs of caching boxes, I wouldn't consider that pay to play. Those boxes cost $20,000 and Netflix is getting something out of it.

Yes true. Netflix (and other companies) having proxies is great, BUT that doesn't help people who can't afford cache proxies yet who want to get content down a crowded pipe.

Should netflix pay for the power and maintenance of the boxes? Probably not.

What were seeing here is greedy ISPs. They wont upgrade lines so netflix offer a solution, the ISP sees money to be made and thats it. Their customers pay for a connection that the ISP cant provide, and netflix pay the ISP for a connection the ISP wont provide. they get paid twice.

The only dilemma netfix have is that the ISPs are holding their own customers ransom in an attempt to force netflix to cough up money to fix the ISPs problem. And what can netflix do? Refuse and start losing money or pay the ISP to double dip their customers.

If the ISP cant provide what they're selling they shouldn't be selling it, that's the reality.

Does the US actually have more than a few major ISPs? I've not heard of a US ISP say they cant afford to run or get a caching proxy and they cant afford the bandwidth for larger peering.

Most people cant even change ISP from what I understand. net neutrality is just one of the major problems the US seems to have.

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I mean content providers smaller than Netflix who can't afford the proxies to get around bandwidth issues, ISP's don't create them that I'm aware.

Content providers smaller than netflix arent causing any issues (well, youtube and netflix arent causing the issue in the first place, bad choice of words but you get it), so they don't need to cache anything on a last mile.

This isnt even really a problem of to much video content from a provider. They want rid of net neutrality to try and teir the internet to get more money and hopefully slow down the amount of traffic.

Traffic is only growing, and will continue to only grow in all areas. What happens when the amount of traffic regardless of the high bandwidth players is to much for the ISP to handle? No amount of caching servers is going to solve that. They are only delaying the inevitable in an attempt to increase profits in the short term.

Assuming replacing copper with fiber will alleviate any bandwidth issues,

Replacing copper ain't going to be cheap I think, especially if it was fiber "everywhere". With a rough quesstimate of 5m miles of cable and a conservative guess of $10k per mile, that's around $50b to get fiber to everywhere there's power.

Cost of fiber

Miles of power grid

Before anybody starts trying to read between the lines, this post is attempting to be entirely neutral on this matter.

Its a fortune. But this specific issue isnt just about fibre lines atm. Its about peering and that the ISPs don't want to do it as it affects the investors extra pennies.

they could upgrade their peering easily and quickly. They dont want to.

As for fibre and long term investment, that's going to become a bigger problem over time. In the UK they're looking at multiple technologies to increase bandwidth to the home (the literal last mile) using a mix of new copper technologies and fibre. Its still a fortune but worth while doing as it increases business opportunities in the long run. the problem is you have to think in the long run.

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Which businesses almost never do nowadays.

They do, actually. This is what fueled the last big fight on Net Neutrality.

Can you guess when Netflix started paying Comcast their extortion money?

Everyone, repeat after me.

There is no bandwidth problem. There is a throttling problem at the ISP.

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You mean ISP's create proxies or bandwidth issues? I meant they don't create proxies.

Also where'd you get that graph?

It was even in the Tek Show back then, not sure about the source though.
It states the source at the bottom left :stuck_out_tongue:

SOURCE: Netflix
GRAPHIC: The Washington Post, Published April 24, 2014

My guess would be around January? Am I right? Am I right? Please tell me I'm right :o

Also... damn it's been long since then... 3 years already? Man I'm getting old.

What do you mean "people who can't afford cache proxies", it's not the people that get them, but the companies. Of course everyone could also install a cache proxy at home, the use of which is very limited though, unless you have a family where everyone watches the same content over and over. For the first time a cache proxy still needs to download the content to begin with.

And if you're talking about smaller ISPs (if there is even such a thing), a cache proxy isn't all that expensive to begin with. I remember there was a video back on TekSyndicate with Qain (did I spell it right?) at QuakeCon(?). They had set up a pretty decent cache proxy for their LAN caching YouTube, Steam, Origin, Uplay and whatnot and the Hardware wasn't all that expensive. And QuakeCon is only a LAN that happens once a year, not a subscription based service like an ISP. For an ISP it's a wwwaaaaayyy more effective investment. It's not only a matter of bandwidth they are saving, it's money basically lying on the floor. Say you need to deliver a video file of 1GB to just a thousand customer, that's a terabyte of data that's going through your own network, which is dirt cheap once it's built. What's costing them is the traffic from their higher tier. Caching 1GB on a nowadays dirt cheap spinning rust disc is dirt under the rug, and saving a lot of costs in the long run.

They shouldn't have to, and they shouldn't need to. But it would at least be understandable. Shouldn't really be a thing though. ISPs should figure out on their own what's the best way to tackle to problem, as you say.

That's really no assumption at this point. Years back there were some experiments in Japan sending terabytes a second over a single (or technically dual since it's dual plex) fibre cable. And that's just the tip of the ice berg.

Of course that's true, but we're not talking about having it everywhere NOW. BUT they have to start somewhere. And they haven't even really started. The thing is once the fibre is laid there's basically no cost attached to it anymore (unless Bob the builder is drilling a hole into the fibre, but that's something different). In Germany they have been building fibre for years (it's government funded and ISPs share infrastructure though) - and I'm pretty sure other civilised countries have been doing the same - because it's just more cost-effective in the long run. There's always going to be a maintenance cost to copper, even when it's layed it can corrode. Fibre, once laid, it's just there. Of course the network equipment needs maintenance, but that cost isn't higher then copper anyway.

Also let's be honest... They probably could be shitting out those $50b right now if they wanted (wasn't there even a government fund or something?).

That's ignoring the fiber that's already run though. A lot of backbone is already done, and there are even a lot of communities that even have it run partially, just not last mile. My city has it run under all the major roads, and that was done when the city was being built. The city was built up over the last 30 years so this is fortunately the case, since its a new development. There is a fiber provider coming in now because I live in not only a upper-middleclass area, but the fiber is already ran to basically the entrance to every neighborhood. My area is probably not the average per say, but there are definitely other places where fiber is too a more or less degree already there. I think it was either charter or time warner that was bragging about an all fiber backbone at some point, idk. The point is, fiber is in some places, so the price isn't going to necessarily be so easy to calculate even for a rough estimate.