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Re: It's hard to dance if your feet are bound
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 10:38:20 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Patrick W. Gilmore" <patrick () ianai net>
Date: September 2, 2008 9:01:59 AM EDT
To: Dave Farber <dave () farber net>, Bob Frankston <Bob19-0501 () bobf frankston com >
Cc: "Patrick W. Gilmore" <patrick () ianai net>
Subject: Re: [IP] It's hard to dance if your feet are bound

On Sep 2, 2008, at 2:46 AM, David Farber wrote:
From: "Bob Frankston" <Bob19-0501 () bobf frankston com>
Date: September 1, 2008 10:52:29 PM EDT
To: "'Richard Bennett'" <richard () bennett com>, "'Lauren Weinstein'" <lauren () vortex com > Cc: "'nnsquad'" <nnsquad () nnsquad org>, "'Robb Topolski'" <robb () funchords com >, <dave () farber net>
Subject: It's hard to dance if your feet are bound

Bennett: “I see your point, but I think you're ignoring the larger issue. Broadband carriers have never built their networks to support 24x7 constant traffic from each subscriber.”

And the phone companies didn’t build the PSTN for data … the modem crisis all over again.

This is a central point. Perhaps the only point.

Comcast (et al) are using inappropriate technology for our vital infrastructure. This is what we should be discussing. Why don’t we demand appropriate technology and if today’s carriers can’t provide it they can’t claim first amendment protection nor a pass on antitrust as a reward for their incompetence and intransigence. If they can’t meet our needs they have a responsibility to inform their investors rather than hiding behind accounting legerdemain.

Are we demanding it?

I never met someone asking for 24/7 full-pipe connectivity. I see people asking for another 5 (pounds, dollars, euros, yuan, whatever) off per month. And I see them saying they want to browse a few web pages, download the occasional song from iTunes, use Skype or IM, and _maybe_ download a movie every day or two. In Other Words: Sporadic use which is well suited to the statistical multiplexing which is used to this very day on every major telecom network on the planet, voice or data.

Where are these people demanding 10 Mbps 24/7/365? Because I guarantee you there are many, many providers who would love to sell them a pipe - for $500/month.

What is that you say? Suddenly there aren't so many people who need full-pipe all-the-time? Or are you saying the people who use the network "normally" should subsidize the people who don't?

Just to be clear, I agree with you that the US model is broken. Granting a monopoly (or duopoly) in return for promises not kept - over and over again! - is silly at best. And many other things are broken about our model as well.

But I also believe that reality must rule the day. The unlimited capacity you talk about does not actually exist, at least not for $50/ month broadband connections. And no amount of policy, law, or other hand waving will change reality.

So it is decision time: Raise prices to support full-time connections? Or deal with statistical multiplexing and prune the "worst offenders" so the rest of the populace doesn't suffer?


A 250GB (256GB?) cap won’t solve the problem in the short term and is moot in the long term. This makes it very strange that Comcast is bothering with such a policy that brings their limitations to the forefront.

We must challenge absurd claims like “And that's good, because if they had we wouldn't be able to afford broadband at home.” which fly in the face of the rapid price performance improvements everywhere that the carriers couldn’t prevent it. This is a confession not a justification!

-----Original Message-----
From: nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com () nnsquad org [mailto:nnsquad-bounces+nnsquad=bobf.frankston.com () nnsquad org ] On Behalf Of Richard Bennett
Sent: Monday, September 01, 2008 19:48
To: Lauren Weinstein
Cc: Brett Glass; nnsquad; Robb Topolski
Subject: [ NNSquad ] Re: Do the Happy Dance people...

I see your point, but I think you're ignoring the larger issue.
Broadband carriers have never built their networks to support 24x7
constant traffic from each subscriber. And that's good, because if they
had we wouldn't be able to afford broadband at home. Rather, they've
built networks with a balance of capacity and cost that enable them to
be marketed attractively. They're clearly made the assumption that 24x7
constant traffic wasn't going to be part of the picture.

So the question you're raising is whether that assumption has been
communicated adequately to their customers and prospective customers.
You argue that this assumption wasn't adequately communicated because
it's not there in plain language in the TOS. Instead of saying "we don't
allow constant traffic," the Broadband Service Providers have simply
banned the most common means of putting constant traffic on their most
constrained link, the upstream by banning servers. It's not that big a
deal for a BSP how much you download, because it's always trivially easy to manage downstream traffic, it's the upstream that runs out first. So having banned the only practical means of exceeding the network's design
assumption, was there any need to say "and we don't like any other
program that eats tons of bandwidth that may exist in the future?"
Probably not, it would be redundant.

There wasn't any text in the TOS's about P2P until recently, because it
wasn't that common until recently. And we know that every restriction
that is enumerated in the TOS is met with crticism, much of it rabid,
even if it's a common sense restriction. Look at the reaction to the
Comcast 250GB cap. For years, Comcast has had a cap on its residential
service. They've identified super-heavy users and told them to knock it
off. And they've canceled service to the recalcitrant. But they didn't
publish a number before they were ordered to do so by the courts. And
having published a number, they're no being bashed for having a cap. So
they can't win.

What you guys should have learned from your FCC exercise is to be
careful what you wish for. You blasted Comcast for P2P traffic-shaping
(by a crude but effective means that violates naive "envelope" theories) and as a result you're getting bandwidth caps and metered pricing. Caps
and metering are "neutral" so you can't complain about their use. And
they're going to be explicit, you so can't complain about disclosure. So
you're screwed: the FCC has given you what you demanded and now we're
all worse off than we were before.

With friends like these, P2P doesn't need enemies.


Lauren Weinstein wrote:
> Richard, I clearly noted that restrictions on servers (though I
> should note not always enforced) and "interference" (however
> nebulously defined internally) are common.  But I've read every
> single damn TOS of every Internet service I've ever had or have.
> T1s, DSLs, Cable, the whole bunch.  None of them ever stated any
> limit on transferred data amounts (presumably absent activating
> the unspoken "interference" parameters).
> No limit == Unlimited
> Look it up.
> --Lauren--
>> If what you're saying is true, Lauren ( "It's absolutely clear that the
>> generally understood meaning of "unlimited" in the context of
>> residential broadband service -- and earlier promotional statements by >> both cable and DSL providers made this utterly obvious -- was that you >> could send or receive as much data as you wished for your monthly fee.") >> then it should be absolutely easy to find a whole raft of TOSs that say >> "we don't care how much traffic you put on our network - run servers, an >> open access point, a home gateway, or a spambot, we don't care! Use as
>> much as you like! Please!
>> In fact no residential broadband service has ever been sold in America >> or anywhere else that didn't have significant restrictions on traffic
>> and usage.
>> *We all know that* and nobody's fooled by claims to the contrary.
>> RB
>> Richard Bennett wrote:
>>> The fact remains that "unlimited" in the context of Internet access
>>> has generally been understood to mean simply that there are no
>>> connection-time charges. At one time, people accessed their ISPs over >>> dial-up connections, which were typically charged on connection time. >>> AT&T phased out connection-time charges when they realized that such
>>> charges added to resource congestion. as they encouraged people to
>>> disconnect during non-peak periods.
>>> DSL and cable have been free of connection-time charges because
>>> they're "always on" services. But it's misleading to say that there >>> haven't always been other limits on these services: go read any TOS
>>> for any DSL or Cable Internet service from anyone at any time: you
>>> can't run servers, you can't consume excessive resources. you can't
>>> spam, etc, etc, etc.
>>> This is reality: residential broadband is inexpensive relative to
>>> business broadband because it's a shared service with no guaranteed
>>> CIR. That means the service is over-sold by design. Go price
>>> non-oversold services, and you'll find your best deal is $400/mo for
>>> 1.5 Mb/s symmetrical T1. Compare that to $60/mo for 16/2 Mb/s from
>>> Comcast. What's the magic? Low duty cycle sharing. And it's a good
>>> thing, because it allows millions of people to get fast service for
>>> low prices.
>>> A mailing list that's supposed to be about holding ISPs feet to the
>>> fire shouldn't engage in willful ignorance.
>>> RB
>>>   [ This is becoming positively Kafkaesque.  Brett claims that
>>> "unlimited" simply meant "not limiting the sort of content that
>>>     you send or receive."  Richard says it meant "no metered
>>>     connection time charges" -- though such charges have largely
>>>     been little seen for years.  Spinning like the twister that
>>>     took Dorothy to Oz.
>>>     It's absolutely clear that the generally understood meaning of
>>> "unlimited" in the context of residential broadband service -- and >>> earlier promotional statements by both cable and DSL providers made >>> this utterly obvious -- was that you could send or receive as much
>>>     data as you wished for your monthly fee.  Yes, there are often
>>> arbitrary server restrictions (but the presence of servers does not >>> necessarily translate into high traffic volumes), and rules against
>>>     "interfering with other customers" and such.
>>>     But these attempts to retroactively redefine what was clearly
>>>     understood by the public as the meaning of "unlimited" in this
>>>     context are straight from fantasyland.
>>>     -- Lauren Weinstein
>>>        NNSquad Moderator ]
>>> - - -
>>> Robb Topolski wrote:
>>>> For everyone's information, I have *never* visited an FCC
>>>> Commissioner and have I *never* visited or appeared before a
>>>> legislator. I was a panelist at the April 17th FCC Stanford hearing >>>> (as was Brett), and I was there on my own dime (as was Brett). I was >>>> not under contract with FP/PK (or either) at that time, nor was such
>>>> an arrangement under consideration.
>>>> Subsequent to the hearings, FP/PK are now my clients. I am their
>>>> consultant. That does kinda associate us together, but I generally >>>> don't speak for them. My particular convictions are my own and they >>>> are well aware that it may not mesh with theirs and that I will still >>>> express them. As their consultant, they sometimes commission me to
>>>> contribute something on their behalf -- and I do, and I clearly
>>>> disclose that I'm doing so on their behalf. Even then, I have not and >>>> would not say anything that I didn't actually support as my first,
>>>> best judgment, position, or opinion.
>>>> Brett feels safe to say anything he wants to say, and I have to
>>>> respond to avoid it being understood as truth.  This situation is
>>>> unacceptable.
>>>> Robb Topolski
>>>> On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 10:48 AM, Brett Glass <brett () lariat net
>>>> <mailto:brett () lariat net>> wrote:
>>>> Robb Topolski is a lobbyist by any definition. "Free" Press has >>>> trotted him out to appear before, and visit, the FCC Commissioners >>>> and legislators to favor stifling regulation of Internet providers.
>>>>     Very SPECIFIC regulations and legislation.
>>>>     --Brett Glass
>>>> --
>>>> Robb Topolski (robb () funchords com <mailto:robb () funchords com>)
>>>> Hillsboro, Oregon USA
>>>> http://www.funchords.com/


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