Here's the diagram from the NPRM that the FCC folks mentioned frequently at the NANOG panel
(The Regulators Meet the Operators, at NANOG 48, Austin, Texas, 22 Feb 2010)
regarding scope of net neutrality rule making:
Question from a provider: VoIP traffic prioritization from essentially our own service?
Moderator: One thing that won't be allowed is prioritizing your own service
over someone else's similar service; that's almost the whole point.
FCC person: This is contemplated in the document. Existing services
wouldn't have to be reworked rapidly.
Reasons to be concerned.
Monopoly over last mile has a position to differentially treat such a service.
This is one of the core concerns.
Q: Giving the same priority to somebody else's similar VoIP service
is essentially creating a trust relationship; how much traffic
will the other service provider send?
We should not fear the exaflood, however. It is key to the innovative
new services and applications that appear almost daily. Consider the
growing number of universities that are making course lectures available
online, often in real time. Or telemedicine programs that are transmitting
medical images and linking patients with distant specialists for real-time
Everybody's familiar with consumer identity privacy, as in protecting passwords
and social security numbers and complying with HIPAA, GLBA, SOX, PIPEDA,
But what about packet privacy?
Never mind net neutrality, I want my privacy. As in packet privacy. The
telcos say they need to sell non-neutral routing of traffic to recover
the cost of building broadband networks. Moving from the Internet,
where a packet-is-a-packet, to something that looks suspiciously like
the 20th century telephone network requires remarrying the content and
connectivity that TCP/IP divorced. It requires deep packet inspection. It
requires looking at the content of communication.
AT&tT does not plan to roll out two physical pipes to every end point
in order to sell Google enhanced access. The new telco plan calls for
content-based routing to separate traffic into media and destination
specific VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). Laws exist to address the
substantial privacy threats created by the fact telephone companies
know Mr. Smith called Mr. Jones, but the privacy risks associated
with “content routing” replacing “end point routing” enter an
Despite Berninger's phrasing, packet privacy isn't something separate from
net neutrality: it's one of the key features of it.
The point is that net neutrality isn't just about pricing policies
or technical means of content routing: it's about privacy.
And privacy is an issue that everybody understands.
Stifling, throttling, or disconnecting without announced limits, censoring, wiretapping, and espionage:
these are all violations of packet privacy.
Promising unlimited access, not delivering, and refusing to admit it
is managing a network for the good of the many above the activities of the few?
Pete Abel thinks so:
Earlier this month, Comcast — the nation’s largest cable broadband
company — was caught doing what any good Internet Service Provider (ISP)
should do, i.e., manage its network to ensure that the online activities
of the few don’t interfere with the online activities of the many,
The biggest problem with what Comcast (and
Cox, and AT&T, and Verizon)
are doing is that their typical customer has at most one or two choices,
which in practice means that if your local cable company and your local
telephone company choose to stifle, throttle, block, or terminate,
you have no recourse, because there's nowhere to go.
Competition would fix that.
Abel tries to back up his peculiar interpretation of network management
with revisionist history:
The principles of PlusNet's network management policies
To make sure that time-critical applications like VoIP and gaming are always prioritised
To protect interactive applications like web-browsing and VPN from non-time sensitive download traffic
To flex the network under demand to cope with normal peaks and troughs from day to day and month to month
To flex the network more gracefully than other ISPs in the event of unusual demands in traffic or disaster situations such as a network failure
To provide a service relative to the amount each customer pays in terms of usage and experience
Provides a 'quality of service' effect, meaning multiple applications running on the same line interact with each other effectively, and use of high demand protocols like Peer-to-Peer doesn't swamp time-sensitive traffic such as online gaming or a VoIP call.
Interestingly, this list does not cite video as the most-favored application,
instead it lists VoIP and gaming, which are participatory services.
However, scan down to their table of types of traffic,
and VoIP and gaming are Titanium, while video-on-demand is the highest
The same person to bust Comcast's blocking of BitTorrent traffic was
called upon to test Cox's system, and sure enough, he concluded with
"conclusive proof" that eDonkey was getting the same treatment.
We asked regular user Robb Topolski, who was the first to discover
Comcast's traffic shaping practices, to take a look at Cox connectivity
a little more closely.
According to Topolski, Cox is in fact using traffic shaping to degrade
p2p traffic. In analyzing a user log, he has concluded that Cox is
using traffic shaping hardware to send forged TCP/IP packets with the RST
(reset) flag set -- with the goal of disrupting eDonkey traffic. He's been
unable to tell precisely what hardware Cox is using, but he notes that the
technique being used is very similar to Comcast's treatment of BitTorrent.
The main difference between Comcast and Cox is that Cox says it's doing it,
for the good of the user, of course.
Still, which users exactly asked for their ISP to fake TCP packets?
And how long before Cox trips up some business users,
Like Comcast stifling Lotus Notes?
Comcast Corp. actively interferes with attempts by some of its
high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs
counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally.
The interference, which The Associated Press confirmed through nationwide
tests, is the most drastic example yet of data discrimination by a
U.S. Internet service provider. It involves company computers masquerading
as those of its users.
If widely applied by other ISPs, the technology Comcast is using would
be a crippling blow to the BitTorrent, eDonkey and Gnutella file-sharing
networks. While these are mainly known as sources of copyright music,
software and movies, BitTorrent in particular is emerging as a legitimate
tool for quickly disseminating legal content.
In the end the ISPs are going to win this battle, you know. The only
thing that will keep them from doing that is competition, something
it is difficult to see coming along anytime soon, rather like that
lemonade-powered sports car.