Home » Internet, Wrong On The Internet

Public Knowledge demonstrates ignorance of networks

By 29 June 2010 3 Comments

Michael Weinberg of Public Knowledge demonstrates for us the problem with ignorance based policy by claiming that games and VoIP “works just fine” on a dumb and neutral network.  I don’t know how Mr. Weinberg defines “works just fine”, but 150 to 1000 millisecond latency is not “just fine” when half your words are cutting out in a phone call or when you’ve been fragged a whole second before you even see it.  The fact that Mr. Weinberg perpetuates this shows how ignorant the hard line Net Neutrality proponents are.

Weinberg claims that YouTube and Netflix works fine on neutral networks, but what he doesn’t understand is that YouTube and Netflix are the causers of harm and not the victims.  This isn’t just my opinion; it’s backed up by the hard data I posted yesterday.  YouTube and other buffered video streams work just fine because they buffer ahead.  That’s fine for recorded video with the luxury of being buffered, but it doesn’t work for live content or VoIP or online gaming.  Furthermore, these buffered video streams from YouTube and Netflix are some of the main culprits along with BitTorrent that induce jitter on a broadband connection and ruin online gaming and VoIP.

Weinberg claims that Xbox gaming also work fine on neutral networks but this simply ignores common sense and what every VoIP user and gamer already knows.  It’s quite normal for a VoIP user to pick up the phone and say “hold on, let me shut off BitTorrent”.  The fact is that PC gaming or Onlive aren’t usable with the kinds of jitter caused by BitTorrent or YouTube or Netflix.  Users get around this problem by shutting off BitTorrent or YouTube or yelling at their roommates to stop using those services.  A close personal friend of mine recently imposed a no Torrent and no streaming limit on his roommates during daylight hours.

So while Weinberg might argue that these games “work” on a dumb network, they only work with draconian solutions.  VoIP and gaming only require 100 Kbps yet VoIP users and gamers won’t allow the remaining 3 to 12 Mbps on the broadband connection to be used for other things like BitTorrent or YouTube or Netflix.  This crude fix is completely unnecessary with a truly neutral network that fairly rotates packet forwarding between applications.  Ignorance based policy and Neutral networks don’t work.


  • Jim Fleming said:

    Stay tuned, it gets better (worse for some?)

    Anyone that has ever been on a commercial airline flight and had Air Force One fly past knows they may be sitting in the air for hours as their airport congestion clears.

    The naive/simple Internet Architecture from the 1970s does not scale. Caching is needed.
    A more agile or intelligent network will provide DHT (Distributed Hash Table) Services
    as a given. DHT is like a global reliable disk that is not in the cloud, each user
    provides part of the storage.

    Without a more modern Architecture, users are going to find that their VOIP calls
    have to be put on hold as Air Force One streams the State of the Union Address in HD
    video. Governments will be doing the air traffic control of the Internet packet
    priorities. You know who will win.

    Eventually, fractures will result that are good for the user experience. Some people
    are terrified of Net Fractures. Will language be the first fracture? Race ? Age ?
    economics or geo-location ? Will gamers return to playing with people from their
    small town, because it works better without lag? Is it terrible they will not be
    meeting gamers from another continent who do not speak their language? Does one
    (broken) net really make sense ?

    Will the laws of physics return to shape the reality of the future ?

  • George Ou (author) said:

    @Jim Fleming

    Caching is already implemented extensively in our CDN based Internet. More will be implemented when needed, but the current caching infrastructure is precisely what allows YouTube and Netflix to work. But this is really irrelevant to this particular discussion because we’re worried about IPTV and gaming which cannot be cached. They have to have minimal jitter to function.