back to article It begins: Time Warner Cable first ISP accused of breaking America's net neutrality rules

The rules on net neutrality in the US are only ten days old, and the first accusation that a telco is breaking them has already been filed. The complainant is streaming company Commercial Network Services (CNS), which is claiming that Time Warner Cable (TWC) is violating the "no paid prioritization" and "no throttling" aspects …

  1. NoOneSpecific

    And this is why we cannot have nice things!

    And this is why we cannot have nice things!

    1. Ilsa Loving

      Re: And this is why we cannot have nice things!

      I don't understand why this got downvoted so heavily. It makes the point succinctly... all this effort has been put into making something good and fair, and inevitably some asshat comes by and tries to abuse it.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: And this is why we cannot have nice things!

      I don't understand what's "not having nice things" here. This doesn't sound like the complainant wants to actually "peer", it sounds like they want cheap low latency bandwidth without paying for it. Peering is separate from transit. Peering requires both networks have something the other wants.

      Two ISPs peer because those two ISPs have subscribers that want to talk to eachother. An ISP might peer with Netflix because all of the customers of that ISP want access to Netflix. In this case, as described by the author, it sounds like a company that strings up stuff for the likes of high frequency traders wants really high speed, low latency access between major internet exchange points without having to pay for it...and without there being anything on the HFT networks that the ISP in question might actually care about.

      I.E. There simply is not rational reason to "peer" here, as oppsoed to simply charging for a dark fibre strand. How is that preventing us from having nice things?

  2. gerdesj Silver badge

    Out in the open

    It's good to see this sort of debate out in the open at last but it's a really tricky one. Computer networks are designed to generally not have enough capacity to cover the sum of the possible throughput off their endpoints. In fact very few flow based networks are designed that way.

    So how do you distinguish contention due to good design and naughty downstream messing? Unless you have a bill or invoice that you can wave in court for "throughput uplift services" then we are going to be seeing some pretty complicated court cases involving a weird combination of network architects and lawyers and bemused laymen (wrt networking) asked to pronounce judgement on the mess.

  3. veti Silver badge


    So now all ISPs have to agree to peer with any service provider who asks?

    "Peer" implies a relationship between equals; ideally, upstream and downstream traffic is expected to be, to within an order of magnitude or so, roughly equal. The chances of "a streaming company" providing that sort of profile seem to me - slender.

    1. Dr Stephen Jones

      Re: "Peer"?

      Your reply is factually correct and too sophisticated for people who get their information from John Oliver.

      Remember: any time an ISP refuses anything to any one it is being "evil". Repeat until brainwashed.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "Peer"?


        Whilst I hate to stick up for the cable companies (and it's still possible in this case that they are being intentionally restrictive) , this is NOT a net-neutrality issue. That's to do with prioritising *packets* not network interconnects.

        This is not something a third party should be able to dictate. I'm sure they know it too, but 'net neutrality' is an emotive phrase, just like when the government wants to justify their actions, they shout 'terrorists!' or 'pædophiles'!

      2. ST Silver badge

        Re: "Peer"?

        > Remember: any time an ISP refuses anything to any one it is being "evil".

        That's not what the complaint is about. But thanks for trying really hard. Twelve more posts like this one and Time Warner Cable might interview you for a job in PR.

        About the 'Dr': what is your PhD in? Cable Internet?

    2. NumptyScrub

      Re: "Peer"?

      "Peer" implies a relationship between equals; ideally, upstream and downstream traffic is expected to be, to within an order of magnitude or so, roughly equal. The chances of "a streaming company" providing that sort of profile seem to me - slender.

      I would be interested to see the commercial arrangements between Content Delivery Networks (such as YouTube, Akamai et al) and service providers like Time Warner, because they are also going to be massively biased in one traffic direction. I am assuming Time Warner charge the same "competitive rate" for bytes moved on behalf of Google's video delivery website, as they are proposing for CNS?

      I can't imagine YouTube's upstream bandwidth requirement being within an order of magnitude of the downstream...

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: "Peer"?

        Veti's post gets 10 upvotes, and one downvote. My reply in agreement gets 1 up and 2 down, from people too cowardly to post why!

        I don't care about the downvotes, but at least explain your actions!

        1. NumptyScrub

          Re: "Peer"?

          First rule of downvote club: don't talk about downvote club. If people haven't already posted why you're unlikely to get any explanation anyway :/

          Maybe they just took exception you you using the æ grapheme? Who knows..

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: "Peer"?

            "the æ grapheme"

            Typographically, that's a "ligature". Ligatures are of course graphemes, so your phrasing was correct, just non-specific.

            But yes, the voting pattern in this particular thread is odd. I assume the good doctor was downvoted primarily for suggesting that ISPs aren't inherently evil and that John Oliver is not the font of all wisdom, but the anger directed at Jamie Jones is harder to explain. Maybe everyone with the surname Jones is on the hit list today.

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: "Peer"?

        "I can't imagine YouTube's upstream bandwidth requirement being within an order of magnitude of the downstream..."

        Now, but every ISP on Earth's subscribers want access to Youtube. Explain to me what about the camera stream/HFT supplier's network appeals to any but a tiny, tiny subset of any ISP's subscribers?

        Peering doesn't have to be about equal amounts of traffic in either direction, it can simply be that it makes rational business sense to freely interconnect due to subscriber demand. I don't see how there is massive subscriber demand for the complainant's services, or that the complainant is offering anything that puts them on remotely equal footing. They seem - at least at first glance - to just want cheap bandwidth for lashing together equipment they have at different IXes.

  4. James 51

    A BIAS? Sometimes these things just right themselves.

  5. Dr Stephen Jones


    Net Neutrality was all about getting a free ride.

    If you don't give me a free ride I'll get the Government to force you to.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Yes

      Bloody pinko commie socialists giving your money to feckless lowlifes, eh, Dr. Steve?

    2. 2460 Something

      Re: Yes

      Net Neutrality was never about getting a free ride. It is about being treated fairly by the ISP.

      As a transit between the consumer and their chosen supplier (google, skype, netflix etc..) the ISP should not be tampering with traffic in a way to adversely affect it. This means they are not allowed to be blackmailing high traffic generating sites, offering them prioritisation for those that are willing to slip them a few million.

      If the ISP is saying that they cannot afford to provide access at a particular speed then they really need to be re-working their price plans. It is one thing to have a list of prices vs speed. I don't think anyone is against that. It is completely unacceptable, however, to be saying for x you can have y, except for this type of traffic we want to charge more for and if you don't pay we will slow it down until you do.

      1. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: Yes

        How little you understand. What TWC is doing is charging money to people who use the network capacity that TWC is paying for. TWC is not a charity, to my knowledge.

        Net neutrality is about unfair discrimination, not about fees for service.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Yes

      "Net Neutrality was all about getting a free ride."

      No, jackass, Net Neutrality is about not being allowed to discriminate based on source or destination, only by content type or by capacity.

      Let's use a practical example:

      It is okay for an ISP to prioritize VoIP traffic so long as they prioritize all VoIP traffic. As a general rule we can all agree that VoIP has realtime requirements, and it even carries with it safety and security concerns in that it is a means to dial 911.

      It is emphatically not okay for a company to prioritize only it's own VoIP traffic or - even worse - to degrade traffic from VoIP offerings other than it's own.

      QoS is okay - even necessary, in the real world - but it must be neutral. Providers don't get to prioritize their services just because they own the pipes.

      Another example: a provider could exempt a class of traffic from bandwidth metering, so long as they exempt all traffic in that class, not merely the traffic that they provide themselves. For a practical example: an ISP could exempt all video traffic from metering, but they could not exempt only their own video offering and yet have Netflix or Youtube count against bandwidth consumption.

      That's not about a "free ride" in any way shape or form. That's about preventing monopolies and duopolies from leveraging dominance in one area (bandwidth provisioning or "being a dumb pipe") in order to gain dominance in another (voice or video provisioning, as two examples.)

      Now, there are certainly people who will push for extreme forms of Net Neutrality, were even neutral QoS is not allowed. They're idiots. They're also a fairly minor fringe faction.

      Net Neutrality is about ensuring that everyone has equal access to providers of content. Nobody gets to play favourites. If an ISP wants to offer over the top services they have to compete fairly for customers, they can't leverage pipe ownership. It isn't about free anything.

  6. msknight

    I thought...

    Just because I want to buy X, doesn't mean Y are committed to selling me X if they don't want to. That's why in the free market, I can go to Z. If it really is that simple, their complaint is ultimately doomed.

    1. MissingSecurity

      Re: I thought...

      If you were dealing with free markets, yes, but we don't, we aren't, and never will. There is going to be a barriers placed somewhere, either in the Cartel nature of this business, or through, ironically, the regulation of government.

      That being said, I am not fully sure what is going on in this case. It sounds like a service company want direct access to TWC interchanges for the service they are providing, but I don't even then Google/FB/Netfilx/etc operate that way.

    2. icesenshi

      Re: I thought...

      Of course you neglect to mention that there is no 'Z' option at all.

  7. Bernard M. Orwell

    "Thru" ?

    *grinds teeth*

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: "Thru" ?

      that should be grinds thee'

      1. Bernard M. Orwell

        Re: "Thru" ?

        "that should be grinds thee'"

        Forsooth and verily it doth grind most foul upon my person and my tooth, liken unto grit drawn from befoul'd oysters, but for thee and thine I can'st not speak.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "that should be grinds thee'"

    Are we channelling Jonathan Edwards?

    Reading about American lawsuits I'm often reminded that the country was started by people who were obsessed with the content of a very old book and were prepared to begin with argument and proceed to murder in defence of their right to force everybody to accept their interpretation. Bad luck for the Native Americans, but good luck for those left behind in England.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: "that should be grinds thee'"

      The "country was started" in that sense by a whole bunch of different groups of people, with rather varying beliefs. And since then it has incorporated a lot more people with a lot more variety of conviction.

      If you're going to make some pat, sophomoric argument about national destiny, at least try to get the history vaguely accurate.

      And, by the way, England has a long history of folks "forc[ing] everybody to accept their interpretation".

  9. Fatman

    I SWEAR, some of you guys just don't GET this!!!!

    After reading the complaint, and the exhibit, I believe that I do.

    So, allow me to take a stab at it:

    1) His company (Commercial Network Services) has a service which customers of TWC want to access.

    2) His company touches the TWC network at THREE1 places where it is possible to DIRECTLY peer with TWC.

    3) TWC says (basically) "Fuck NO, unless YOU PAY!!!" If you want to peer FOR FREE with TWC, then use these increased latency peering links.

    4) He says:"Hold on TWC, that's a violation of the FCC rules.I am complaining."

    Now the ball is in the FCC's court.

    tl;dr version: My company provides a service that your customers want, and we both have a presence at three different locations. Connecting ME to YOU is almost as simple a connecting a patch cable from my rack to yours. But, NO, you greedy fuckers want me to run my traffic around the world first, unless I pay YOU. Sound about right???

    1 Any2 Los Angeles, NYIIX, and Equinix NYC

    1. Kit.

      Re: I SWEAR, some of you guys just don't GET this!!!!

      Yeah, I'm not getting this,

      So, if I'm an ISP and I have two similar bitrate streams competing for bandwidth at a congestion point:

      One is a UDP multicast TV stream delivered to 10% of my customer base, where every loss of a packet would cause video glitches for every customer subscribed to it, and I control the total bitrate of such streams and make sure they alone will never cause congestion at any point of my network,

      Another is a TCP unicast webcam video stream delivered to 0.00001% of my customer base, with TCP retransmission mechanisms protecting against packet loss and probably HLS mechanisms allow for fallback to lower bitrate in case of congestion, and I have no control over the total amount of bandwidth such streams may require at any point at any time.

      then I cannot prioritize the UDP trafic over the TCP traffic, because the TCP traffic originates from CNS, and there are "my customers wanting to access it"?

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: I SWEAR, some of you guys just don't GET this!!!!

      " His company (Commercial Network Services) has a service which customers of TWC want to access."

      Really? Because that's not what I get. My understanding is that very, very few customers of TWC want to access CNS and that CNS is mostly looking for free transit between the IXes, and possibly to a tiny handful of customers for the camera thing. If I'm wrong, please, do link me to the where. It's one of those issues that totally could go either way, it really depends on the details.

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