| Jay on October 23rd, 2009 11:56 pm
You said: "If "net neutrality" principles were applied to electricity, it would be like having no electricity meter."
My comment is: No. The antithesis of net neutrality applied to electricity would be like an electric company being able to tell what types of things you're powering, and be able to throttle your use of your videogames consoles so that everyone on the block can power their refrigerators.
If "net neutrality" principles were applied to electricity, it would be what we have right now. You pay based on how much you use, not what you use.
A pipe is just a pipe. I, and every other person paying for the same service in my area, should get N Mb/s, regardless of what I'm using. Period. If I paid for N Mb/s (perhaps with a transfer cap of M gigabytes of data per month), I should get N Mb/s until those M GB are reached.
I should be able to use that on mission critical business applications or on X-box Live. I already pay for my electricity which powers my X-box *and* my IBM Thinkpad. How you can *POSSIBLY* compare "net neutrality" with "no electricity" meter is the most absurd thing I have read recently.
[response from author]
The premise of the "no electricity meter" analogy is that there are a significant number of people in the "net neutrality" camp who are very much opposed to usage-based pricing or monthly download caps. If they have their way, there would be no transfer caps allowed, no meters.
"would be like an electric company being able to tell what types of things you're powering, and be able to throttle your use of your videogames consoles so that everyone on the block can power their refrigerators". That's not correct. It would be much more like the electric company throttling your use of 200 amps 24/7/365 for the halide lighting system for your basement marijuana grow-op so that everyone on the block can power their refrigerators. The thing that is being restricted is bandwidth-hogging bittorrent used for unlawful activity: stealing copyrighted content. Let's not pretend otherwise lest we forget the whole reason for the problem.
"A pipe is just a pipe". That's not correct. You are confusing access line speed with a service level agreement based on a traffic profile. The capacity to a network is designed based on statistical multiplexing, meaning that the internal capacity is less than the total of the access line speeds. How much less can be calculated knowing the historical demand statistics, i.e. how often people transmit packets at their access line speed, hence the term statistical multiplexing.
The internal network capacity is certainly not designed for people to transmit packets at their access line speed 24 hours a day which you seem to be suggesting by saying the service is just a pipe.
Since the internal network capacity is purposely designed to be less than the total of the access line speeds (lowering the cost to the users!), then there have to be mechanisms to ensure that the traffic experienced by the network is actually within the design parameters, the usage statistics.
The mechanism for that is to define a traffic profile and sell a service level agreement. The traffic profile specifies the "statistics": the maximum average number of bits per second, maximum number of bits per second, maximum burst size. The service level agreement is between the network and the user: if the user agrees to transmit at or below the traffic profile, the network agrees to guaranteed transmission characteristics like maximum delay, maximum number of dropped packets.
When you pay $50 per month for network service, you are not buying a "pipe" at your access line speed. You are buying a residential-user traffic profile, which is an agreement for considerably less than transmitting at your line speed 24 hours a day.
If you want a network service that is a "pipe", i.e. where you can transmit at your line speed 24 hours a day, that can certainly be purchased. But it wouldn't cost $50 a month. It would cost $500 to $1000 a month.
Complaining because you aren't getting a $500/month service for $50/month?
Last point: if we change your statement "perhaps with a transfer cap of M gigabytes of data per month" to "with a transfer cap of M gigabytes of data per month", that would fix part of the problem. But...
(a) There are many people in the "net neutrality" camp vehemently opposed to limits. They want to pass laws to force traffic profiles to be an unlimited "pipe", i.e. a $500/month service mandated for everyone.
(b) If monthly caps or limits continue to be legal, what happens if everyone tries to transmit and receive at their line speed starting at 00:01 on the first day of the month until they reach their cap a few days later... and they all do this at the same time... and it is illegal for the network to enforce traffic profiles?
It would be legally required that the network support everyone transmitting at full line speed. The network would have to be designed to allow everyone to transmit at line speed continuously at the same time, even if it were only used that way for a few days a month. The cost of the network would be 10 times higher. Cost of Internet service would have to jump from the current $50 per month to $500 per month to support it.