Reply to post: Lessons from telco?

Net neutrality: How to spot an arts graduate in a tech debate

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Lessons from telco?

It pains me to admit it, but there may be lessons from the telco regulatory regime that could be applied.

1. Local loop maintained by a neutral third party. Where "local loop" means the fiber/DSL/whatever link between you and the edge of the Internet (operator's network).

2. Non-discriminatory access from the provider edge to an ISP. This is analogous to the local PSTN loop terminating in a central office but being wired to equipment installed in the CO by a competitive carrier (CLEC). US law in particular is very rigorous here and infractions by the CO owner are extremely rare. Net effect: you can connect to any ISP that has gear in the data center you connect to.

3. There is a universal floor for standards. In telephony this is enforced by rules around uptime, latency, call quality, call connection completion rates and suchlike. In broadband you would have rules like latency/jitter, packet throughput and suchlike. An ISP would have to deliver at least this standard.

4. Customers sign up for "at least" service. You buy 10Mbit fiber to the home, you get at least X, Y and Z. Beyond that, the carrier makes no promises and can manage traffic how they see fit. People like Skype and the next Whatsapp tell their users that they need certain values for X, Y and Z and that's that. It's actually in their interest to write tighter code now. In telco, the FCC mandate certain minimum standards, which is why wacko stuff like 1960s fax machines work alongside the medical bracelet you bought Grandma last Christmas.

If I'm a small startup, the prevalence of "at least" connections means I am guaranteed to have my service used at acceptable speeds. If I am Google, I don;t lose - I can still peer with carriers. If I am Netflix, I can continue to cut deals with ISPs to put my CDN servers close to users. If I am an ISP, I can traffic manage to my heart's content so long as I maintain the floor standards. Everyone's happy.

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