April 01, 2005

Net Freedom, Reinterpreted

Recently I expressed that Net Freedom means that traffic flows should be allowed based on the network resources the flows consume without taking into consideration the specific applications. These entries were referenced by a few other bloggers. I am prompted to elaborate on this simple point based on some of the comments.

Om gently reminds me that as I dream about open and fair net, I have to pay attention to profit making. I most assuredly agree with the need for the service provider to make a decent profit. The service provider can realize any level of profit; for that matter they can charge even usury rates. This is not incongruent to the goals of Net Freedom. “I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green”.

While writing about ClearWire’s story, Irwin Lazar points out to a discussion in the mailing list populated by North American Network Operators. That discussion suggests that ClearWire may be concerned about processing the large number of packets voice traffic generates more so than the actual bandwidth it consumes. This very well may be true; that is why I used the generic phrase “network resource” rather than “bandwidth” in my Net Freedom credo. Accordingly ClearWire should specify a threshold for pps generated by a user and ban traffic only if a flow exceeds this specified threshold; it shouldn’t matter which application exceeds the threshold.

One of the participants says that VoIP will generate 100pps and that it is too much for the radio system to handle. But this assumes the standard usage scenario of generating a packet every 20 msec. The real advantage of IP Communications is that there is no one set way of doing things. A session can start in one mode but can easily change it at any time as long as the two ends agree to it. A ClearWire customer can suggest use of Push-To-Talk to abide by the pps restriction. Assuming 90kbps media flow and 1500 bytes MTU, the session will generate only 8 pps. Surely this must be perfectly acceptable to ClearWire. This exemplifies why a service provider can not infer the nature of the session and so should not make decisions based on that inference.

To summarize, according to Net Freedom, the Internet access service provider is allowed to charge any amount for the service and allowed to place any restriction at the Network layer or below (assuming the “Invisible hand” is there to take care of abnormal behavior). But beyond that they are not allowed to do any additional filtering or redirection.

Posted by aswath at April 1, 2005 06:44 AM
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Can we somehow not keep referring the former FCC Chairman Michael Powell's "Net Freedom" proposals as a FCC rule or other law? These proposals have been around for quite some time in many ISP/ASP companies TOS/AUP as standard practice and assumed de facto.

If you look at the "B" portions of his proposal's, you will find he does recognize potential limitations with any given network.

Proposal 1
Freedom to Access Content. First, consumers should have access to their choice of legal content.

"B" Portion - I recognize that network operators have a legitimate need to manage their networks and ensure a quality experience, thus reasonable limits sometimes must be placed in service contracts. Such restraints, however, should be clearly spelled out and should be as minimal as necessary.

Proposal 2
Freedom to Use Applications. Second, consumers should be able to run applications of their choice.

"B" Portion - Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to let the market work and allow consumers to run applications unless they exceed service plan limitations or harm the provider's network.

Proposal 3
Freedom to Attach Personal Devices. Third, consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes. -

"B" Portion - Thus, I challenge all facets of the industry to permit consumers to attach any devices they choose to their broadband connection, so long as the devices operate within service plan limitations and do not harm the provider's network or enable theft of service.

Proposal 4
Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information. Fourth, consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans.

"B" Portion - Providers have every right to offer a variety of service tiers with varying bandwidth and feature options.

As a former dialup Internet Access Service Provider (ISP), I find nothing new nor had we ever done anything to limit our services within the limits of our networks. Any ISP/ASP worth their customers business will have all of these criteria in their Terms of Service (TOS) and Acceptable Use Policies (AUP). These proposals are nothing new.

Frank Muto
FSM Marketing Group, Inc.

Posted by: Frank Muto at April 1, 2005 09:28 AM

Given that there will be limits, I am suggesting where could the limits be. This has become a topic of discussion because a few have imposed what seems to be arbitrary and selfish limitations and many of us are seeing red.

Posted by: Aswath at April 1, 2005 10:07 AM

I agree, but you missed my point. The ISP, i.e., Independent Internet Service Provider has always provided their customers with as much open access as available. Up until recently, the ASP providers such as Broadband Telephony providers', has not really supported their counter part ISP.

ISP's are unable to competitively evolve from dialup to Broadband because of the loss of entry into that market. The RBOC's have effectively for all intensive purposes killed those opportunities by regulatory policy changes.

By killing off this industry, we are looking at a 2-way option for consumers and businesses to obtain Broadband services and without any choice in the matter. The customer's are being forced into buying services they do not want or need, just to have Broadband at a reasonable cost.

This scenario will not only kill competition, but also limit the ASP's customer's choices of Broadband services.

That being said, Net Freedom will not offset the loss of competition and the customers' freedom of choice in picking their Broadband provider and other services they choose.

Frank Muto
FSM Marketing Group, Inc.
Co-founder - Washington Bureau for ISP Advocacy - WBIA
http://gigabytemarch.blog.com/ www.wbia.us

Posted by: Frank Muto at April 1, 2005 01:05 PM

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