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jbartas
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Joined: 06 Oct 2005
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Location: Cupertino, California, U.S. of A!

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 8:19 am    Post subject: Help save the internet Reply with quote

Regulars will notice a new addition to the MemePolice banner - we are now a member of the coalition to save the Internet.

In a nutshell, the coalition is a huge and growing grass roots effort to stop a few greedy corporations from destroying the Internet in the U.S.A. There's a lot written on this and various other site sites. As someone whose been working on the technical underpinnings of the Internet since 1985, I can assure you that everything they are saying is pretty much true.

There are a few areas where the Coalition and and blogosphere has oversimplified what's happening. The truth is both better and worse than what they're saying.

There are two main missing ingredients in their prognostications. First, the Internet is not just a United States phenomenon. Second, it's been attacked by greedy corporations before, and we can get some idea what to expect from these previous attacks.

International networks:

Most of the other countries on the Internet are rooting for the US to do something stupid with it. They may be about to get their wish. Their basic gripe is that North America and locked up 85% of all existing IP addresses. With the current Internet technical design (called a "Internet Protocol version 4", or IPv4) there is a built-in limit of about 4 billion addresses available. Sounds like a lot until you realize there are over 10 billion computers in use, and the number is growing fast. Every cell phone, PDA, car, and household appliance could also use an IP address.

So currently the rest of the world - Asia, Europe, little places like that - have to share a few hundred million addresses - not even enough for one per building. To rectify this situation, a new Internet protocol (IPv6) has been developed, which provides bazillions (2 to the 128th power) of addresses. However the US has no pressing need to adopt the protocol, and US foot dragging has made it difficult for the rest of the world.

Now if something were to happen to the Internet in the US to make the major web sites, or a large number of the users, unhappy with it; then these web sites and users would look for an alternative - such as foreign ISPs accessed by satellites or software tunnels (disclaimer: I've got my name on that one :-)) through the US net. These foreign providers would jump at the chance to structure the new US based accounts with IPv6 addresses, thus ending the IPv4 domination. This would not be a terrible thing - IPv6 has a little more overhead, but the huge number of addresses would benefit everybody (every person could have dozens of free static IP addresses). And the slight overhead of IPv6 would certainly be less offensive than the artificial slowdowns imposed by the US Telcos.

When US Auto companies started producing third-rate products, American consumers began buying imported cars. How long do you think it will take American consumers to realize that it's a lot easier to get your Internet electrons from Europe or Asia than a 3000 pound car? I'd guess the US backbone and ISPs (some of them the same idiots behind the attack on Neutrality) would be decimated in 2-3 years.


Previous atempts to hijack the Internet:

Similarly, the previous attacks on the Internet by corporations over the years have all failed for similar reasons. When I started my Internet work in 1985, the main threat was from private designs by IBM and DEC. In fact, in 1985, there were more IBM (SNA) and DEC-net users as folks on the Internet. The Internet prevailed because is worked well, was open to all, and treated all traffic equally. Sound familiar?

By 1995 the Internet was the obvious winner, at which point Bill Gates discovered it, and decided he wanted to control it. He was already the richest man in the world, and controlled a powerful monopoly, yet ten years later he has gotten nowhere. Despite introducing numerous "spoiler" technologies such as Netbios, L2TP, MS-CHAP, COM, DCOM, .NET (google 'em if you doubt me) the Internet users continue using the same IPv4, FTP, email and HTTP they were using in 1995. Even though Gates controlled the majority of the PCs, he did not control the servers or the "backbone" - the wires and routers which string the Internet together. Server and backbone operators knew that if they adopted Gates technology (aside from the fact that it didn't work any better than windows) they would never again call the shots on their own business. The few companies stupid enough to adopt Microsoft technology for Internet servers, such as SGI and HPs server division failed miserably.

The Telecom gangsters trying to foist "tiered billing" on us will face the same factors the foiled all the previous would-be hijackers. Not one of them owns a preponderance of the Internet structure. Anyone who pays AT&T for a "fast track" will also have to pay the other folks who could throttle their traffic - other carriers, the local ISPs (at both ends of each connection) and the makers of software on both the server and client machine. For example if Amazon paid AT&T for extra fast service, then Ebay might pay ISPs to slow up the Amazon traffic to balance things out. Since the players vary with each individual internet transaction, it's silly to imagine anyone could pay them all. Clearly chaos and a massive U.S. Internet meltdown would ensue, users would flock the the alternatives I've outlined above. The Government would have to step in and restore order - by (re)enforcing net neutrality.


So here's my bottom line predictions if telcos actually try out tiered service:

    1) U.S. Internet performance for EVERYONE (including the fast track payees) would deteriorate.
    2) Big web sites like Ebay and Google would build their own backbones and start ISP service.
    3) Foreign ISPs would gain a large presence in the U.S. market.
    4) Cost for both consumers and Web site operators would go up
    5) IPv6 would take off.
    6) In 2-5 years laws would be passed to belatedly enforce neutrality
    7) The first-rate US Internet we have now would be permanently third rate
    8) The US Economy, national security, and technical dominance would suffer.


Wouldn't it just make more sense to pass the laws in 6) now, and avoid this whole mess? Don't let the US Internet follow our auto industry, health care, and manufacturing down the tubes. Please read the links, and then call or write your Senators and congressperson.

John Bartas - Cupertino - 5/11/06




Last edited by jbartas on Sat May 13, 2006 1:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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KimCooper



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Posts: 247
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Fri May 12, 2006 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for this explanation. I have sent a copy of your post (and Meme Police's URL) to my politcal email list, and I have signed the petition.

When will they ever learn?


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gravitylove



Joined: 10 Jan 2006
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

John,

Your assessment is sound. I contend that those currently in power will be bankrupted and weakened by their own greed and insatiable lust for power. I just wish that they didn't have to destroy everything for the rest of us in the process! I want my country back!

= Gravity



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KimCooper



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Posts: 247
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JB -- I sent a copy of your post to Al Franken at AirAmerica because he was talking about net neutrality this morning.
--Kim


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jbartas
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Joined: 06 Oct 2005
Posts: 133
Location: Cupertino, California, U.S. of A!

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 4:37 am    Post subject: Some good news from the front... Reply with quote

The fight is far from over, but the tide is turning. Congresspersons of both parties are responding to pressure from us Internet users (aka "voters") .

First, a House panel voted 20-13 to launch a "net neutrality" bill. It was even sponsored by a Republican! Shocked
http://www.latimes.com/technology/la-fi-neutral26may26,1,5899502.story?coll=la-headlines-technology

Some great commentary in it at MyDD:
http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/5/28/14328/3630


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Jim Lippard
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 10:40 pm    Post subject: what form of net neutrality are you advocating? Reply with quote

There are lots of things that fall under that banner--nondiscrimination (no blocking or degrading of content except for reasons such as security and network stability), common carriage for last-mile broadband (for telcos and cable), common carriage for *all* ISP networks, non-differentiation, prohibition of QoS, prohibition of surcharges for better than best-effort delivery, etc.

What exactly are you advocating? Some of these things make sense (the first two items in my list), others are crazy (all of the rest).


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jbartas
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Location: Cupertino, California, U.S. of A!

PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 12:01 am    Post subject: what am I advocating? Reply with quote

Ouch, Jim's putting me on the spot - it's always easier to be against something than for something. I hope I was clear that I'm against giving Telcos and other Internet backbone carriers unregulated (or poorly regulated) power to prioritize packets. Historically their job on the Internet is to move packets on a first come first served basis. This has drawbacks, like making QoS* all but impossible; but my experience with deregulating utilities (and Banks) is that a few greedy businesses will gut the industry for short term profits, at public expense. I keep thinking of the S&L deregulation in the 1980s and the California's Power Grid in the 1990s.

I pretty much agree with Jim's list, especially QoS. Unfortunately QoS has potential conflicts between public interest and profit, and I just don't trust the Telcos to pick public interest. There are folks, like Dave Farber, who know as much about the technology as anyone, who DO favor giving Telcos this power. But Farber has spent a good portion of his career working for Telcos, and he says they can be trusted. I'm not so sure.

So what am I advocating? Here's an idea:

Ask the IETF to start work on RFCs for methods to fairly overlay QoS services on the existing backbone. These RFCs should include algorithms for fair load balancing, when it's permissible to examine an IP address or port, and how much reserve bandwidth is required for non-tiered service (and how this bandwidth is to be measured). These RFCs should also include metrics that can be run from end nodes to verify the Telcos are not cheating.

Of course the Telcos will immediately flood the IETF committees with their own engineers, but the RFC process is very open and democratic, and has survived this sort of corporate dog pile before. They are the only group anywhere which can balance the business needs of Telcos with the long term health of the Internet.

When some RFCs defining fair algorithms for QoS are agreed upon, the the Telcos and ask the FCC for permission to implement QoS exactly as defined by the RFC. The fairness issue will have already been settled, in public, with the Telcos engineers having plenty of input. They can introduce new services as fast as they are engineered, they will just have to engineer them in public to assure fairness. .


*For the non-geeks among us, QoS stands for "Quality of Service". On the Internet this means that you can make an Internet connection, for example for streaming a video, and get a guaranteed minimum data rate good enough to support the video feed without it breaking up. For someone willing to pay extra to see a movie without interruptions, this has merit. The problem is, if the movie "packets" (chunks of data on the Internet) are guaranteed to be delivered on time, other packets may have to be delayed. The whole issue with NN is : Who decides which packets get delayed? The devil is in the details!


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Jim Lippard
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 1:09 am    Post subject: what about already-defined QoS that's already in place? Reply with quote

E.g., as in my employer's network, described here (follow links to discussions by Dave Siegel and Xiao Xipeng--Xipeng is the author of numerous RFCs on QoS): http://lippard.blogspot.com/2006/05/dave-siegel-on-qos-and-net-neutrality.html


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KimCooper



Joined: 08 Oct 2005
Posts: 247
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2006 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

this morning on Air America, on the local (960, the Quake) show, "Will and Willy", they were talking about Net Neutrality, so I just sent them a link to this page.
I also told them they should know about MemePolice anyway.
I'm doing my best to try to get the word out and increase the population around here....



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