Well it has been an interesting week for me on the Net Neutrality Front. The reason is that I tracked an article from Forbes through my friend Dan Grossman. This Article was published around Thanksgiving last year. I think that is why I missed it or never heard about it. The notion is that Netflix has really screwed up the Net Neutrality Debate.
For me, the most interesting technical part of the article is a pointer to an admission by Cogent. Let me walk you back in time to that all this happened. If you remember, Netflix and Comcast were having a lively spat in public based around some data that Netflix put out showing out ISPs were slowing down their traffic. If you recall at about the same time, Cogent was claiming that Comcast was creating a bottleneck at the Cogent-Comcast Peering Point. This was resolved when Netflix directly connected to Comcast. At that point, the entire affair became a more widely known general public topic. And the FCC put out the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) that mentioned “Fast Lanes”. At that point, John Oliver jumped in and we had many uninformed children adding on.
So, let’s back up through this and take a look at the admission from Cogent. This blog post says that the cause of the Netflix slowdown was actually Cogent. That the reason that the direct connection between Comcast and Netflix improved things is that Cogent was removed from that connection. The reason stated by Cogent was that Cogent had taken to prioritizing the traffic of their retail customers over their wholesale customers (like Netflix). Now, as with all things I think it is worth skepticism to consider these sources. But I do want you to ask yourself, would the debate be as newsworthy without the Netflix issue? I would say wholeheartedly no. And that is the point of my writing.
I have told many people that the reason I write my Friday blog post is that one of the first groups to link to my blog was a Telecom Advocacy website. I look at the articles that referred to my blog and found that the website was wrong. I don’t mean that they advocated bad positions. They advocated positions based on technical information that was factually incorrect. My favorite was that VoIP was being pushed because it could be wiretapped unlike POTS lines. POTS lines in the US are tapped under Carrier Assistance of Law Enforcement Agency (aka CALEA). This happened long before data tapping which only came in as part of the Patriot Act. It occurred to me that people can not make good decisions about policy until they have facts.
I do put out positions and I try to tell you when I do. If you are not clear on when I am talking fact versus opinion let me know. I will make it clear. For example, my view of Title II is that it probably will end up badly for the consumer. I say that because I feel that the number 1 issue is incenting investment in the network. Imposing Title II does not do that in my opinion. In fact most of the problem that I have with the positions that people take is that they are self serving or theoretical. To me, investment means bandwidth and bandwidth is what we are looking for.
Next week, I start talking more about what we need to get investment. That is unless something else happens. Have a great weekend!
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