• United States
by Readers

Letters to the editor: “‘Net neutrality not needed”

Apr 10, 20066 mins
Data CenterRegulation

Also: the regression of software openness; national broadband policy needed; and who should control the Internet?

‘Net neutrality not needed

‘Net neutrality? Not needed. Carriers will offer various classes of service applicable to certain traffic based on which applications require it and who pays how much. If a customer pays for a certain class-of-service treatment for VoIP and does not get it, that’s fraud. I’m pretty sure we already have laws against fraud. Service class models and queuing treatments are a hot topic with network providers these days. If everyone is worried that carriers secretly plan to build in a treatment class featuring “unfair advantage over everybody we don’t care about,” they have paranoia problems. Too many engineers would know the dirty details and the secret could never be kept.

I’m reminded of the answer Coke executives gave when they were asked whether they purposely engineered the “New-Coke-vs.-Classic-Coke” fiasco that actually improved overall sales. They said, “We’re neither that smart nor that stupid.” The same applies here.

If we take away the ability for carriers to enter into partnerships or build services for which they give their top class of service (same one everyone else could pay extra for), then some other revenue model must exist to incent continued network upkeep and improvement. Take away all viable revenue models and I guarantee the networks will degenerate into a useless morass. Then we can all learn Chinese, get ready for IPv6 and start all over again.

I often use the national highway system as an analog for packet-based transport networks. It is amazing how similar are the rules and concepts that govern traffic movement and congestion between endpoints. The big players on the Internet have built 300-lane on-ramps and are dumping a thousand trucks a minute into our system. It’s OK for the little players’ cost model to simply be the cost of their driveways. But someone has to pay for backbone upgrades to handle those big players’ abusive loads.

Pay-per-packet would be difficult to implement and would swamp the very machines already busy madly passing IP packets. As for how to pay for the backbone, the original Ma Bell phone system faced a similar chicken-egg problem (why build a network when there aren’t any phones; why buy phones when there isn’t any network).

Their solution was to place the burden on business long distance and use those huge profits to subsidize local service so everybody could get a phone.

The businesses benefited because now everyone could have a phone and the network was more valuable. And the Bell system quickly grew to become the envy of the world. They haven’t yet coalesced back into a monopoly, but a similar concept can apply. Those big players who have figured out how to squeeze huge revenue out of the mostly free transport should be the ones taxed for upkeep and upgrade.

The fact that there is competition will keep those extra costs mostly in check. And overall it will enable them to squeeze more revenue anyway.

David Green

Naperville, Ill.

The good old days

Regarding Kevin Tolly’s column, “The regression of software openness”: I enjoyed Tolly’s take on the differences in documentation available from in good old days as compared to today. However, if I recall, IBM really only let you see the full source code for VM, and did not open up MVS and CICS code in full detail, other than publishing the control block layouts and how to debug the transaction flow. I’d always have a VM or MVS manual with me in case I had some spare reading time at home or on a trip.

I remember my days of reading dumps and doing performance analysis on various mainframe systems. As I watch my PC take forever to do something, I always wonder what the heck is going on. In the old days, you’d turn on Intertest, set some breakpoints and figure it out.

Paul Lourd

Greenwich, Conn.

National broadband policy needed

Regarding Johna Till Johnson’s column, “Keep the feds out of broadband”: I believe Johnson may not have considered the reasons why a national broadband implementation policy could be a good thing — perhaps even necessary thing.

First, Johnson asks, “…who are we to dictate how people should spend their money?” Well, just as it was decided in 1934 that telephone access should be universal, it did not mandate that everyone had to purchase a telephone or even use one. The same concept is true of broadband. As non-broadband access continues to become more and more useless, I believe broadband access will become a practical necessity, just as the telephone has. Without access to a broadband connection, it could very well become impossible to transact business or interact with a government agency. A well-crafted national broadband policy could be just as useful today as universal telephone access was in 1934 to ensure that every American has the choice to purchase and make use of a broadband Internet connection.

Second, I would agree that the Universal Service Fund (USF) has had some management issues, but that does not mean that we should simply stop making policies or even collecting and spending taxpayer dollars on public projects that benefit all U.S. citizens, no matter where they live. Without a national broadband policy, there is no incentive or requirement for broadband providers to supply access to people who live in areas that generally would be unprofitable for the private sector to wire for broadband.

Larre Shiller


There are many places where DSL is not available, cable is not available and cell phone coverage is hit or miss. Not everyone lives in New York. Compared to Europe we look like a banana republic. There is only one phone company choice for local service and one cable company (no choice) in many areas. If the political system is corrupt, the answer is to fix it, not outlaw laws.

The free market is only after the quick buck. Companies receiving a monopoly to provide services should be forced to provide them to all people in the area, and not cherry-pick the high-profit sites and block other companies from servicing the area because their lawyers were smarter than the city or county politicians that gave away their citizens’ rights.

Walt Adam

Auburn Hills, Mich.

Let the market decide

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ BackSpin column, “Who should control the ‘Net?”: While I agree that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an albatross, Gibbs’ idea of the United Nations controlling the Internet is madness. Turning anything over to the U.N. is a recipe for disaster.

Let market evolution decide the fate of the Internet. Eventually, parts of the ‘Net will collapse under the strain, and something newer and better will rise from the ashes. This is what happened when ARPAnet, BITnet and their ilk became too limited in their scope.

I’m personally hoping that we geeks finally will complete a nationwide wireless ‘Net in the spirit of the original Internet to get out of the over-controlled, over-commercialized Internet. Then ICANN can manage whatever’s left.

Kendall Sears


Technology Resources Development Consulting

Mauckport, Ind.