Ou: Google hypocritical on neutrality

Ou: Google hypocritical on neutrality

Summary: George Ou writes that quality-of-service distinctions, far from being the bane of the Internet, are a Good Thing.

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Edited to deal with context problems.

George Ou, who has long railed argued against net neutrality schemes that ban QoS and tiered access and in favor of "reasonable network management," offers a different perspective on whether Google's content caching deals are hypocritical, as a Wall Street Journal article argued (reported here. Google has always been hypocritical, George writes.

The point is that Google is pushing hard for the Markey-2006 and Snowe/Dorgan 2006 proposals that would ban QoS prioritization based on the source (applies to the content provider or the broadband customer since the legislation doesn’t specify). Those bills would also prohibit surcharges on QoS prioritization and Google was sure to leave an exception for all other Internet related businesses by specifically targeting broadband in the legislation. This ensures a exemption to content caching (usually in the form of Content Delivery Network (CDN) providers like Akamai or LimeLight) which offers not just a “fast lane”, but a warp speed lane that operates at an instantaneous speed because they bypass the need to retransmit data. Content caching operates 10,000 times faster (the typical number of clients each caching server services) than the type of QoS prioritization Google is lobbying hard to ban.

Opponents of Net Neutrality regulation have consistently argued that neither type of prioritization is bad and that they’re needed to optimize the Internet, but Net Neutrality regulation would ban QoS prioritization which is critical for making networks better at multitasking and critical for eliminating real-time application killing jitter (I explain this in my new Network Management paper released last week). Google and all their Net Neutrality proponents like Larry Lessig said that QoS prioritization would create a for-fee fast lane that would make it impossible for smaller content producers to compete on an equal scale. But that’s nonsense because QoS prioritization is useless for large-scale content delivery because it does not have the infinite-speed congestion-bypassing characteristics of content caching. A ban on QoS prioritization would simply prevent broadband networks from doing reasonable network management that enhances the value of broadband networks. The type of prioritization technology that does give larger content companies like Google the ultimate advantage in content delivery is conveniently ignored by the proposed Net Neutrality regulations which isn’t surprising when we consider who is backing the legislation.

The key point is that if Net Neutrality proponents want to prohibit companies from gaining a content distribution advantage through financial might, then they should have a problem with content caching and not QoS prioritization. If they truly believe in their cause to create a state of equality that never existed on the Internet, then they should be calling for a ban on caching technologies. But that would be just as silly as banning QoS prioritization.

The reality is that the Internet has always been an open platform for any one, any use, and any business model, but participation has always required varying levels of payment for varying levels of service. BOTH form of prioritization technologies are crucial to the Internet and it would be foolish to ban either technology.

This is precisely why I've released a reportdebunking these myths about network management and QoS technology. Network management with QoS prioritization technology has 3 goals.

  1. It means equitable bandwidth for customers of the same service tier. Equitable bandwidth doesn't mean equal bandwidth at any instantaneous point in time; it means we try to ensure that everyone gets equal average bandwidth over an interval of time such as 15 minutes.
  2. QoS makes networks better at multitasking and support multiple applications with the best performance possible for all users and applications. That means real-time low-bandwidth applications get higher priority than interactive high bandwidth applications like web browsing. Then low duration interactive applications like web browsing should get higher priority over background applications with high duration. That is not discrimination towards background applications like Peer-to-peer (P2P) because the the P2P application still gets higher average bandwidth from the network without the toxicity to other applications.
  3. QoS fixes the jitter problem which can occur at very low network utilization levels. This is where some applications will burst on the network and monopolize the packet queue and starve all other applications for hundred of milliseconds which disrupts real-time applications like VoIP and online gaming.

George also wants to clarify exactly what his position is. Here you go:

I’ve long argued against Net Neutrality proposals that ban tiered services and argued for reasonable network management. This position is now shared by Professor Larry Lessig, a long time Net Neutrality advocate, who now says he opposes Net Neutrality legislation such as the Markey bill which bans charges on QoS. Tim Berners-Lee also argued that paying more for better QoS should be legal. So my position really isn’t all that different from leading Net Neutrality proponents. For example, I’ve argued for a rational debate on Net Neutrality, which was well received by moderates on both sides of the argument.

Topics: Browser, Broadband, Google, Networking

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13 comments
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  • Come on!

    [b]This is absolutely nonsense.[/b]

    The original WSJ article already misses the point as it
    misinterprets the intentions of Google. It has nothing
    to do with changing the QoS on the Internet. Many of
    the bigger companies (Yahoo, Google, Amazon) have
    distributed servers setup as a CDN.
    These servers are much like the proxy servers with
    caching you see in companies. Content that is requested
    by many users than does not have to travel across the
    Internet and over crowded pipelines, but is already
    available at your local ISP. This saves bandwidth on
    the Internet and this benefits us all (to some extent)
    and it benefits the person requesting the content a lot
    as comes only across a fast connection from ISP to your
    computer.

    Content caching has nothing to do with QoS. Quality of
    Service is restricting a part of the available
    bandwidth for certain type of traffic or certain
    companies. Content caching is only about speeding
    things up for users requesting content that is already
    in the cache. It saves the ISP requesting the content
    across the Internet and maximizes the available
    bandwidth for other content. I wish all big players
    would opt for solutions like this.

    Again: [b]This is absolute nonsense![/b]
    Roho
    • Hear Hear!

      Absolutely. What a load of mumbo jumbo ju ju, that is over loaded with a bunch of techno babble. I think the whole point of the article was to confuse the readers of the wall street journal with a bunch of flashy technical terms and acronyms. Pull a bait and switch on them, and tell them its all the same thing. It's not the same thing, and people that are against net neutrality most likely have pure self interest, or self interest for certain companies at heart, and not the society as a whole.... that sort of attitude is what has brought us such financial troubles in the first place.
      LucidGoldfish
  • Net Neutrality

    The objective of "net neutrality" is to keep the "last mile" ISP's from systematically biasing service quality toward favored "partners" that might not be the ISP's customer's favored partner. The victims of lapses in net neutrality are the ISPs' customers and the millions of web sites and services that will be disfavored because they did not pay the ISP for unneutral, preferred service. Advocates of net unneutrality ignore the potential impact on the "small guy." For example, under unneutrality some big bank's favored online banking service can "partner" with an ISP to benefit from low latency, while small banks (and their customers) are stuck with higher latency. Under triple play, the people who create "walled gardens" for cable companies and telecoms have increasing come to control the "last mile" ISP service, and the natural inclination of triple play providers to extract more revenue through "unneutrality" is shortsighted from their own perspective, because leveraging triple play account control merely brings closer an anti-trust action to break up the monopolies (yet again, and we do not want to go through another one of those).
    fultonwilcox
  • Why is this concept so difficult for pundits?

    Net Neutrality is about making sure that there are no *exclusive* QoS deals. Lessig and Google both responded to the WSJ article in question explaining this.

    No serious Net Neutrality proponent wants to see either QoS or geographic caching go away. Nor do they want to do away with price tiers for access speed. They simply want to make sure that the playing field is level, and that the economy of the Internet is not based on scarcity.

    Net Neutrality is not about preventing payment for better QoS, it's about making sure that the barrier to entry is low.
    darren.meyer
    • Let's go back and look at the argument of Net Neutrality

      http://www.jedreport.com/2008/12/lessigs-defense.html

      The whole argument that Net Neutrality proponents made
      is that they don't want premium content delivery using
      fast lanes. Caching is warp speed lane
      prioritization. Their whole argument is that it
      prevents the little guys from competing.

      Now that Google and Net Neutrality proponents are
      saying that they believe in the free market when it
      comes to content delivery, that's fine, but it's right
      to point out their inconsistencies and it's right to
      point out that we need to apply that same standard to
      QoS prioritization.
      georgeou
      • Even the little guys cache...

        my ISP is a very small association, and even they do casching. They've never complained about the infrastructure costs, and they have as fast a service as I've used under say, AT&T.

        In fact a little faster. I don't see how this is a big guy/little guy contest if we are talking about that factor.

        I would have thought it had more to do about ultra high speed backbone access. But what do I know?
        JCitizen
  • George says...

    "...consider who is backing the legislation." Well...consider who is backing Ou! Money talks...
    wmlundine
  • google is the good guy

    As long as they back OSS I see no danger to the software or bandwidth.
    Linux Geek
  • Clarification

    ?George Ou, who has longed railed against net
    neutrality?

    I?ve long railed against Net Neutrality proposals that
    ban tiered services. This position is now shared by
    Professor Larry Lessig, a long time Net Neutrality
    advocate, who now says he opposes Net Neutrality
    legislation such as the Markey bill which bans charges
    on QoS.
    georgeou
  • RE: Ou: Google hypocritical on neutrality

    The Agenda with Steve Paikin hosted a discussion entitled It's Google Earth, We Just Live On It addressing, among other topics, privacy issues and whether Google is (or is doing) "good or evil". Watch it on the <a href="http://www.tvo.org/cfmx/tvoorg/theagenda/index.cfm?page_id=3&action=blog&subaction=viewPost&post_id=9067&blog_id=445" target="_blank">Behind The Headlines Blog</a>.
    Behind The Headlines
  • What is "reasonable network management"?

    "A ban on QoS prioritization would simply prevent broadband networks from doing reasonable network management that enhances the value of broadband networks."

    It seems to me like service providers are just pushing for more control over the network traffic so that they can make deals ... ultimately this will cost the average user... look at Wall Street.

    I read about Comcast threatening to throttle BitTorrent activity... if the service providers start doing that type of thing, I won't have any reason to keep a high bandwidth connection with my service provider, because other than my occasional Linux ISO distro download, the main high bandwidth content coming over my network is already advertising.
    bbneo
    • It's simple and I talk about it in my report

      This is precisely why I've released a report debunking
      these myths about network management and QoS
      technology. http://www.itif.org/index.php?id=205
      Network management with QoS prioritization technology
      has 3 goals.

      1. It means equitable bandwidth for customers of the
      same service tier. Equitable bandwidth doesn't mean
      equal bandwidth at any instantaneous point in time; it
      means we try to ensure that everyone gets equal
      average bandwidth over an interval of time such as 15
      minutes.

      2. QoS makes networks better at multitasking and
      support multiple applications with the best
      performance possible for all users and applications.
      That means real-time low-bandwidth applications get
      higher priority than interactive high bandwidth
      applications like web browsing. Then low duration
      interactive applications like web browsing should get
      higher priority over background applications with high
      duration. That is not discrimination towards
      background applications like Peer-to-peer (P2P)
      because the P2P application still gets higher average
      bandwidth from the network without the toxicity to
      other applications.

      3. QoS fixes the jitter problem which can occur at
      very low network utilization levels. This is where
      some applications will burst on the network and
      monopolize the packet queue and starve all other
      applications for hundred of milliseconds which
      disrupts real-time applications like VoIP and online
      gaming.
      georgeou
  • Right you are

    If a content provider can put its servers right at the ISP, bypassing everything but the last mile, that's the ultimate in prioritization. Everyone else is left with the "slow lane" -- that is, the ever-more-crowded Internet backbone.
    BrettGlass