How can I say this…. this is one of the worst ideas I think I’ve heard this week from an ISP. (Maybe in a long time, but I’d have to think on that a few minutes.) An executive at Bellsouth thinks that ISP’s ought to be able to charge certain websites/companies to ensure responsiveness for that ISP’s users. In other words, they would want to charge say… Yahoo $xxxxx to make sure that the yahoo site is faster than the Google site for Bellsouth customers.
Let the shakedown begin!!! IF that’s ever allowed it would be a gold mine for ISP’s and monumentaly bad for online web presence’s. There would be no way that smaller outfits could compete with the kind of money the big sites could throw around and would likely mean big problems for some webhosts. Essentially you’d have to pick and choose which ISP’s you could afford to give this “protection money” to and which you couldn’t (how many users does bellsouth have? Can I afford better to have quicker response for their users or comcast?) That might even lead to a decrease in the international web and increased regionalism since ISP’s in many cases are regional operations.
In his defence he did say that ISP’s shouldn’t be allowed to degrade the performance of a site, that there should be a baseline of service which all sites should enjoy (content providers). My question is who defines the baseline of service? He gave the analogy of picking 2-day vs. 6 day shipping. Is the baseline going to be 500 ms lag unless the ISP is in financial trouble, then that goes up to 5000 ms lag to try and get some money out of more sites. Do sites of a particular political persuasion get dealt with differently than other sites? What about certain Web browsers – maybe it would be possible to identify packet requests from IE vs. Firefox? Windows vs. Apple/Linux/etc.??? This leads us to a bad place I think for most everyone but the service providers and maybe the companies with the deepest pockets.
He claims the following….
Smith said the ability to prioritize traffic would benefit consumers, such as with online services providing medical alerts. And he said his company wants to be able to assure vendors such as online-gaming firms that their subscribers will get top performance even when there is heavy network traffic, which can slow a system.
Smith said BellSouth is especially concerned about new-generation television services it wants to provide via the Internet that would require large amounts of bandwidth.
Allowing it to give priority to TV traffic would ensure that television quality does not decline when other heavy-bandwidth applications are used simultaneously.
The thing is, traffic shaping of a sort already takes place with some ISP’s from what I understand. (A traffic shaper is a network device that prioritizes traffic… for instance Voice over IP packets might get a high priority, mp3 downloads low priority… so Voice over IP is prioritized (quicker) than an mp3 download may be.) I KNOW of some business networks that use traffic shaping and have suspected some ISP’s are doing likewise. I’m not terribly opposed to slightly different priorities for different TYPES of data (voice over ip packets vs. text/web transfers) what disturbs me is saying “this web packet should be handled more quickly than that web packet”. I think that takes us to a place that is too likely to be abused.
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