Home » CurrentHeader, Internet, Wrong On The Internet

Call the Net Neutrality police – DailyKos loads faster than Foxnews

By 29 July 2010 36 Comments

Earlier this week I pointed out how absurd it is whenever Net Neutrality advocates claim that the Internet is a place where all websites should load at the same speed.  Sen. Al Franken (D.-Minn.) bemoaned that without Net Neutrality, “How long do you think it will take before the Foxnews web loads 5 times faster than the DailyKos?”  So for a little fun, I decided to actually check if Foxnews loads faster than the DailyKos and found that the opposite was true!

Results from http://www.iwebtool.com/speed_test:

Site Load size KB/sec Time Speed
www.foxnews.com 106.9 KB 0.48 s 1.78 Mbps
www.dailykos.com 104.52 KB 0.24 s 3.484 Mbps
www.digitalsociety.org 40.16 KB 1.24 s 0.259 Mbps

Using Net Neutrality equal outcome based “logic”, how can this be!  Is there a vast left wing conspiracy to hijack the Internet and oppress right leaning sites like Foxnews.com?

If we used a rational premise that the Internet is equal opportunity rather than equal outcome, we would need to look for a technical explanation.  Did DailyKos.com buy better server connectivity?  Or did they build better servers and/or hire better administrators to optimize their site?  Is it any surprise that DigitalSociety.org runs so much slower using a cheap $50/month server hosting service and free WordPress software?  More importantly, do you actually notice any speed deficiencies with DigitalSociety.org?

While I don’t know the server connectivity details for Foxnews and DailyKos, I do know what DigitalSociety.org uses because I built it.  We have a 100 Mbps connection to the Internet but it’s limited by my virtual firewall to roughly 25 Mbps.  We’re also running in a virtual server environment and using the free WordPress platform without the benefit of hardware based website accelerators that large sites like Foxnews.com or DailyKos would use.  I know for a fact that I can download individual files at at least 6 Mbps or more yet the iwebtool test shows 0.259 Mbps which would indicate that they’re timing the entire page load which is more dependent on the server and software platform.

Given the large disparity in performance, Net Neutrality proponents like Free Press should probably adopt server neutrality or developer hire neutrality.  From now on, we need to make every company adopt an NFL draft model where the worst performing companies get first dibs on the Stanford or Berkeley or MIT graduates.  That way we could finally be a few steps closer to this fantasy world where all websites load at the same speed.

Update – For anyone still claiming that Net Neutrality proponents never claimed that all websites should load at the same speed, here’s another sample from Free Press.  There are countless other examples from other politicians as well.

“all Web sites and applications download and upload at the same speeds.”

36 Comments »

  • Eric said:

    Well, it seems that the connection with Fox News was loading more data per second than the one with DailyKos. I’m not an expert with these things, but I’m guessing that the Fox News homepage probably has more data on it or its ratio of users to server capacity is higher than Kos’s. Also, the senator said that without network neutrality this could become the case, not that it already is.

    Also, I do not think that net neutrality is about having all websites load at the same rate; it’s about, in user-end terms at least, websites loading in accordance with the current variables that affect speed, excluding provider predilection from being one of them.

    Just to note, I don’t think Fox News has too much competition from DailyKos, though. Their readership is a just A BIT different. haha

  • Joe Campbell said:

    Net neutrality is about ISPs connecting your computer to the internet at large. It’s not about changing the internet so that Fox News loads at the same speed as the New York Times — but preventing ISPs from offering preferential treatment to certain sites or not allowing types of programs.

    For eg., net neutrality would ensure that your cable or phone company — your ISP — couldn’t prevent you from running chat programs or visiting certain sites or slow down your chat program or site. However, it would do nothing to ensure that my site would have sufficient capacity to load fast.

    Do you disagree with this interpretation? And if so, why?

  • Nick R Brown said:

    You talked about preventing ISPs from “preferential treatment” and preventing ISPs from “slow[ing] down [your] chat program or site” but then you said that this conversation doesn’t have anything to do with one sight loading faster than another.

    I think you may want to step back and look at your own arguments or understanding of the issue first.

  • Not Likely said:

    This is one of the dumbest things I have ever read. Here’s a hint Mr. Ou: Don’t comment on issues you don’t understand.

  • Nick R Brown said:

    facepalm

  • Joe Campbell said:

    @Nick Brown –

    Okay…What I said was consistent.

    I never said that:

    It does.

    Let me explain it this way:

    You have a computer.
    The computer uses an ISP to connect to websites, etc..
    A website is just material hosted on another computer which is limited by its own computer’s capacity and its own connection to the internet.

    How fast a website loads is determined by
    (a) Your computer’s own speed, what programs it’s using, etc.
    (b) Your ISP’s connection.
    (c) The website’s own connection to the internet.

    Net neutrality is about (b).

    I have a website myself. I pay $20 a month to host it. Fox News owns a website. They must pay much a lot more to host their site. They can do all sorts of things to optimize the speed at which things load which I can’t with my basic contract. Fox News’s website can handle a lot more people trying to access it than mine and I’m sure if overall faster. Net neutrality won’t change that.

    What net neutrality will do is prevent Fox News from paying — say Cablevision — to make sure their videos and website load faster than CNN or indeed my site. Net neutrality wouldn’t make sure that CNN and Fox News would load at the same speeds: just that the ISP couldn’t prioritize one over the other. And yes, ISPs have taken some steps in this direction.

    Is that clear?

  • Joe Campbell said:

    @George – Feel free to delete my poorly formatted first attempt at posting this…Hopefully this one will be fine.

    @Nick Brown –

    Okay…What I said was consistent.

    I never said that:

    this conversation doesn’t have anything to do with one sight loading faster than another.

    It does.

    Let me explain it this way:

    You have a computer.
    The computer uses an ISP to connect to websites, etc..
    A website is just material hosted on another computer which is limited by its own computer’s capacity and its own connection to the internet.

    How fast a website loads is determined by
    (a) Your computer’s own speed, what programs it’s using, etc.
    (b) Your ISP’s connection.
    (c) The website’s own connection to the internet.

    Net neutrality is about (b).

    I have a website myself. I pay $20 a month to host it. Fox News owns a website. They must pay much a lot more to host their site. They can do all sorts of things to optimize the speed at which things load which I can’t with my basic contract. Fox News’s website can handle a lot more people trying to access it than mine and I’m sure if overall faster. Net neutrality won’t change that.

    What net neutrality will do is prevent Fox News from paying — say Cablevision — to make sure their videos and website load faster than CNN or indeed my site. Net neutrality wouldn’t make sure that CNN and Fox News would load at the same speeds: just that the ISP couldn’t prioritize one over the other. And yes, ISPs have taken some steps in this direction.

    Is that clear?

  • Joe Campbell said:

    @George – Feel free to delete my poorly formatted first and second attempts at posting this…

    @Nick Brown –

    Okay…What I said was consistent.

    I never said that:

    >this conversation doesn’t have anything to do with one sight loading faster than another.

    It does.

    Let me explain it this way:

    You have a computer.
    The computer uses an ISP to connect to websites, etc..
    A website is just material hosted on another computer which is limited by its own computer’s capacity and its own connection to the internet.

    How fast a website loads is determined by
    (a) Your computer’s own speed, what programs it’s using, etc.
    (b) Your ISP’s connection.
    (c) The website’s own connection to the internet.

    Net neutrality is about (b).

    I have a website myself. I pay $20 a month to host it. Fox News owns a website. They must pay much a lot more to host their site. They can do all sorts of things to optimize the speed at which things load which I can’t with my basic contract. Fox News’s website can handle a lot more people trying to access it than mine and I’m sure if overall faster. Net neutrality won’t change that.

    What net neutrality will do is prevent Fox News from paying — say Cablevision — to make sure their videos and website load faster than CNN or indeed my site. Net neutrality wouldn’t make sure that CNN and Fox News would load at the same speeds: just that the ISP couldn’t prioritize one over the other. And yes, ISPs have taken some steps in this direction.

    Is that clear?

  • Michael Baumli said:

    @Joe Campbell

    1. Why would Fox news pay to have priority packets over other websites? A website loads as fast as it gets. If I were a multimillion dollar news company, I could care less about how fast people get their news as long as they get it accurately. Prioritizing packets would be an absolute waste of investment. I would rather have editors to clean the garbage out of reporter’s stories, fact checkers to validate stories, and writers who know a good story. To make sure that Fox News’s packets arrive a millisecond faster than CNN let alone LocalNewspaper.com’s website is a complete and total waste of revenue.

    2. If some news media corp felt the need to blow their money in that manner, more power to them. People like Blizzard for their gaming service and Skype for their VoIP actually benefit from prioritized packets. Honestly if some news media corp does that, I hope they fail. But I will be sure to thank them for funding the telecom companies so that they can subsidize other services with their complete and total waste on paying for services that are simply not needed.

    3. You want a fast loading site, you should try Craigslist. First thing you need to do to make your site faster… stop loading so many bloated ads and foolish content such as that.

  • George Ou (author) said:

    @Joe Campbell

    Joe said:
    “How fast a website loads is determined by
    (a) Your computer’s own speed, what programs it’s using, etc.
    (b) Your ISP’s connection.
    (c) The website’s own connection to the internet.

    Net neutrality is about (b).”

    Joe, if you’re going to try and lecture me, get your fact straight first.

    First, Net Neutrality regulatory/legislative proposals want to regulate the server side connection and prohibit fee-based enhanced ISP services to content/app providers.

    Second, it’s clear that my ISP’s connection was NOT the limiting factor here. In fact, the test was run from iWebTool.com. The speed limit wasn’t even due to the network speed of iWebTool.com or the network speed of any of the tested sites. As I explained, the server site platform (wordpress in our case) is what slowed us down and not anyone’s server connection speed.

  • Joe Campbell said:

    @Michael Baumli,

    If you have a choice between watching a video from Fox News that loads instantly or a video from CNN that’s choppy or takes time to load, it will affect your choices.

    You’re using the fact that I’m talking about news organizations to try to muddy the issue — but the fact is the news organization we’re talking about get their money from advertisements. Which is why websites like Fox won’t strip out their advertisements. And of course, sites like Fox also stream video.

    As a general principle, the fact that networks haven’t discriminated against certain kinds of content or programs — but allowed anything to connect and use the network equally — is what made the web such a free and competitive place, where innovation was rewarded and upstart companies didn’t face the same regulatory or technological impediments that preserve the status quo in many other spheres.

    Remember AOL’s walled garden ISP back in the 1990s? Where AOL content loaded faster and other sites took a significantly longer amount of time? That’s not what I want the web to be.

  • Joe Campbell said:

    @George Ou,

    Regarding your “First”:
    I acknowledged this:
    >prohibit fee-based enhanced ISP services to content/app providers

    That’s what I mean by saying Fox News could pay to get priority, etc.

    However, this is flatly untrue to my knowledge:

    >Net Neutrality regulatory/legislative proposals want to regulate the server side connection

    Though if you can point me to a bill or advocate that does push for this, then I’ll concede some do. But overall, this is specifically not the approach — and net neutrality is even seen as a way to ensure that big corporations cannot tilt the playing field so far as by throwing resources at both sides of the network — having both the infrastructure they maintain (server-side) and the infrastructure their customers use (ISP side) giving them significant priority.

    As to your “Second”…I don’t see that what you’re saying contradicts or modifies or has any effect whatsoever on what I’ve said.

    You explained that different websites load at different speeds — and claimed net neutrality was about all websites loading at equal speeds.

    I explained that net neutrality was about regulating one important component of how fast things load but not about ensuring that all websites load at equal speeds.

    Your response is that your example didn’t test how fast your website was loading via your ISP but from iWebTool’s and the speed of your site’s server.

    Which is all fine and dandy…but irrelevant to the net neutrality debate, which is my point.

    Now, your claim that net neutrality is about regulating servers and ensuring all websites load equally is interesting. But based on my reading on this from advocates and news sources, that is flatly untrue. But I’m glad to take a look at any evidence you can cite on this…

  • Michael Baumli said:

    @Joe Campbell

    We are talking milliseconds hundreds of times more bandwidth than back in the AOL days. Also… You were connecting to AOL, the ISP with servers that directly connected to the ISP verses content that was connected through several other junction points. Why do you think that Google is strategically placing their data centers through out the world?

    Many larger content providers will host their content on multiple sites for this reason. Also, videos wouldn’t be choppy if their packets weren’t prioritized. If you know anything about video packets, they don’t require lower latency to work, they would function better with a bigger buffer client side. They may take a few seconds to buffer, but other than that, you won’t notice any difference in performance. Gaming and VoIP are your two applications that require low latency connections.

    Also, If I hit a site from news feed from Japan verses one in the US, which do you think will load faster. I guess if the US one loads faster, that’s because of the prioritized packets and has nothing to do with the vicinity of the servers they are coming from. How about when some small news site hosts a breaking article that other outlets link to? I suppose because that site is bombarded with requests, that is prioritized packets of other companies that are preventing you from getting your content.

    If CNN paid standard hosting costs and Fox paid for prioritized packets, an end user would notice very little on their end. Only if there was a massive amount of traffic would they may be get a bit of an advantage.

    Milliseconds faster don’t make the news service.

  • Joe Campbell said:

    @Michael Baumli -

    I’m well aware how far we’ve come since dial up. But the principle remains the same. Depending on how used the network is, we may be talking milliseconds or much more — it would depend on the amount of data and the capacity of the network versus its usage.

    What we’ve found is that as we increase the bandwidth available, so we increase how much bandwidth our programs and sites need to use — because with more bandwidth we can do more. In other words: If AOL in 1998 offered today’s bandwidth but still offered the same sites, everything — whether their internal sites or external ones — would be available instantaneously. However, as there is more and more bandwidth available, services and sites evolve to require more.

    Under your theory, everyone has more bandwidth than they need — so it makes no sense for companies to try to get special treatment. However, that’s not exactly true — especially when taking into account data-heavy sites and applications. And in some applications, even milliseconds are enough to disrupt certain user experience: For example, Facebook games, any other online games, videos, and audio recordings. Which is why companies like Google have data centers around the world — to gain that advantage.

    If Google and Microsoft and Fox and other companies began to bid to legally bribe ISPs to make their sites faster than others, the internet would pretty fundamentally change and become less of a free market.

    Its easiest to see this arising from data-intensive areas in the immediate term. iTunes could pay ISPs to ensure their downloads are faster than Amazon’s. And any upstart selling content to download would be at a further disadvantage if they didn’t have the capital to pay these bribes.

  • Stop Net Regulation » Sen. Smalley and the Left Are Wrong on Net Neutrality said:

    [...] George Ou at Digital Society has a made a rather interesting observation about Sen. Franken’s Netroots musings on net neutrality. [...]

  • Aidan Short said:

    Good lord. If you don’t understand what packet prioritization is, then you don’t understand the issue.

    There are innumerable factors that will affect the ultimate speed at which a webpage loads. Net Neutrality concerns writing into law what ISP’s are (for the most part) doing already – treating all packets equally, regardless of source, destination or protocol.

    The ISP’s want to charge content providers to prioritize their traffic. Net Neutrality proponents want the status quo – all packets are treated equally – to be written into law. It’s not that complicated.

  • George Ou (author) said:

    @Aidan Short

    I can assure you that I am one of the most qualified experts on Net Neutrality. I have a network engineering background and I have put forth a very meaningful debate here. http://www.digitalsociety.org/2010/08/meaningful-debate-on-the-google-verizon-net-neutrality-compromise/

    Declaring all packets are equal is one of the most extreme and ludicrous forms of Net Neutrality. http://www.digitalsociety.org/2010/08/the-three-extreme-forms-of-net-neutrality/

    Lastly, you’re confused about the rule of packet prioritization. It’s not used to load web pages or even load video faster. That’s generally handled by CDN which is another form of prioritization that has similar characteristics to packet prioritization, only with undesirable aspects. http://www.digitalsociety.org/2010/08/data-shows-cdn-prioritization-more-harmful-than-router-prioritization/

  • David said:

    I think there are people on both sides of the issues that have no idea what they are talking about and anyone who said that “all websites should load just as fast as the others” is greatly confused.

    I think you have some points, specifically that end-users should have quality access to the applications that they want to run using the Internet, but it seems like you get bogged down by silly arguments (i.e equal speed).

    And just a heads up, using lots of links that go to articles you have written doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, specifically:

    http://www.digitalsociety.org/2010/08/the-three-extreme-forms-of-net-neutrality/

  • Cos said:

    No, you clearly do not understand at all.
    Let me try one of the dreaded car analogies.
    The connection you pay for is your car. You can pay a lot for a fast one, or a little for a slow one. You can drive to your destination as fast as the roads allow. Net neutrality says no ISP can set up a toll road where only the people who pay extra get to use their high speed lane.

    Basically everyone pays for their personal connection or hosting speed, and no ISP in between can slow anyone down ON AN INDIVIDUAL BASIS. They can traffic shape, if everyone’s hammering their connections. They can probably prioritize based on type of content, within reason, but they can’t make sweetheart deals that discriminate against others.

    If you want to spend the money, your business can add servers around the world to speed things up for your customers. You pay your hosts, you don’t also want to worry about highwaymen threatening you with your money or your speed.

  • George Ou (author) said:

    @Cos

    “If you want to spend the money, your business can add servers around the world to speed things up for your customers. You pay your hosts, you don’t also want to worry about highwaymen threatening you with your money or your speed.”

    You should certainly be able to build or lease hosting (transit bandwidth) or CDN infrastructure. But you should also be able to bypass transit or CDN and do paid peering if you feel that it offers a better service for the money. These aren’t “sweetheart deals” if they’re voluntary agreements between network provider and content provider. As far as discriminating and harming other content, CDN based content is much more harmful to other content. http://www.digitalsociety.org/2010/08/data-shows-cdn-prioritization-more-harmful-than-router-prioritization/

  • George Ou (author) said:

    @David

    “I think you have some points, specifically that end-users should have quality access to the applications that they want to run using the Internet, but it seems like you get bogged down by silly arguments (i.e equal speed).”

    I am not the one arguing that all sites should be equal speed or equal priority, I am the one rebutting these silly notions. I saying so long as ISPs aren’t threatening anyone with undue consequences if they don’t buy their premium services, there are no reasons to outlaw them.

    “And just a heads up, using lots of links that go to articles you have written doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, specifically:
    http://www.digitalsociety.org/2010/08/the-three-extreme-forms-of-net-neutrality/

    My citing previous work, especially when they’re substantial in content and facts that haven’t been disputed were designed to engage people who are interested in a factual debate. Those previous works would only reduce the confidence of those who care more about the hate-the-ISP agenda and this false equal outcome Internet than the facts. The last link you pointed to gave a very concise summary of the issues and no one has disputed the content. If you think you can dispute any of the facts given, then by all means try.

  • David said:

    As for citing your own work a lot, I would say that citing others goes a lot further in strengthening your position. It isn’t my job to dispute your facts, I’m not the one who decided to create a blog and put my opinion out there. I’m merely stating the fact that I tend to respect writers who can back up their opinion with lots of facts from different sources, instead of the vicious cycle of their own opinion.
    You keep saying that CDN can actually be harmful, but I don’t really see anything to back that up. And no, experiments you ran yourself are not enough, on their own.

  • George Ou (author) said:

    @David,

    So if someone else cited my research on CDNs, that would be just fine by your logic since it’s one person citing another. But that other person wouldn’t be any different than me citing my own research especially when the other person didn’t do the research.

    So what it boils down to is not who you cite, but the quality of the research and whether it can withstand criticism. Now there is a lot of interest in this space and if my research was flawed, I can assure you that there would be a lot of pro-Net Neutrality groups that would be eager to shoot it down. But no, all we have is some anonymous person criticizing the work solely based on the fact that I cited my own research and not any specific problems in the research. That kind of reasoning just doesn’t hold.

  • SiliconANGLE — Blog — Netflix switching from Akamai to Level 3 CDN services said:

    [...] to “Net Neutrality” myth that “all Internet sites run at the same speed“, there are very few websites that has this kind of reach into American homes.  There is no [...]

  • Sen. Smalley and the Left Are Wrong on Net Neutrality | Stop Net Regulation said:

    [...] George Ou at Digital Society has a made a rather interesting observation about Sen. Franken’s Netroots musings on net neutrality. [...]