Hugsies Blog!

December 1, 2010

Net Neutrality: Comcast vs Level3

Filed under: Political Rant — Tags: , , — Hugsie @ 8:43 am

Comcast is again being seen as a villain due to extra charges Comcast demanded on Level3.  Level3 is net backbone provider that is one of the contracted content providers by Netflix for their on-demand video streaming.  Because of this, the debate about net neutrality comes back again.

Comcast and Level3 have what’s known as a “Peer Agreement” who have agreed to share data back and forth. To put this simply, Level3 is sending more data into comcast’s network than comcast is sending into Level3. Because of the peer agreements they have together, Comcast is apparently entitled to compensation.

So are they really entitled to it? If the data going in and out of both networks is about the same, the costs to each other cancel each other out and it’s virtually free. So what differnece does it make if there are more bits flowing in one direction? There’s no proof that this exess data that comcast is getting causes any burden on their network.

I’ve had this pet peeve of mine that ISPs and simular service providers see “data” as something that causes wear and tear on their network and they need to charge fees, often to their customers, for maintenance and repair.  But does it really cause wear and tear? Sure perhaps under EXTREME load (say a DDoS attack) hardware can lock up, or over heat and go bad, but we aren’t talking about network overloads.  Level3 is simply sending more data into comcast’s network than comcast is sending into Level3. So this isn’t about some sort of hardship on comcast, but just some contractual loophole that Comcast thinks they deserve; which Comcast CHOSE to peruse; it wasn’t some automatic billing thing.

Problem is these Peer Agreements have been around for decades, back when internet users were on slow-ass dialup.  These agreements need to be reformed and updated to reflect the bandwidth needs of a typical user on the internet. After all, people don’t get high-speed fast broadband internet access to just read emails, read blogs, play Farmville, and tweet.  They can use cheaper dialup for that.  People want to download large amounts of content and not take a month to get.  Simple as that.

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