This is a follow up post to the earlier write up. As usual Robert Cringely has hit on the argument right on head.
If you look at the amount of overhead TCP needs it’s exponential to how slow each connection is; the slower (the connection) the more overhead because the window sizes are smaller and more control packets are being used for verification. And you know what? BitTorrent is FAR WORSE. Remember that for each file you download on BitTorrent you connect to dozens, possibly even hundreds of people, and the slower each of those connections is the more the overhead increases.
So what happens when everyone’s VoIP or other preferred packets get preference over my torrent packets? Since I have no knowledge of the other people’s usage in my aggregate network I can’t adjust well for changes in the network. The BitTorrent traffic that is going will have exponentially increased overhead due to the slow downs, increasing overall Internet packet overhead (with BitTorrent already 30+ percent of all Internet traffic). Which means that allowing the telco’s to subsidize the cost of improving their infrastructure by having preferred packets could exponentially increase the cost accrued by the larger internet and backbone providers just to keep costs down at the aggregate level.
In Robert’s words, to recap:
Giving priority to some traffic puts a hurt on other types of traffic and when that other traffic constitutes more than 30 percent of the Internet, the results can be severe for all of us. On the Internet everything is connected, and you can’t easily ignore the impact of one service on another.
It essentially means that it is in ISP’s interests to shape up the traffic, they way they want to; to be able to control the flow of data in their networks. This does bring up interesting conundrums. What if BSNL decides to shape up the traffic or the way I consume content? It is a public network and essentially, the entire network is that of the people. Does it have any right to control access, the way I deem is right?
Since Bit torrent or p2p traffic tends to choke the networks, ISP’s may set up tiered networks. Which means, a right of way on the information superhighway. In real life, this analogy can be extended on to using a superior road to commute; you pay higher tax/ toll to travel at higher speeds on dedicated corridors. The extent or size of the dedicated corridor could well at the cost of the “free” one. Give or take, it is the classical capitalist knee jerk reaction, that one would obviously favour the dedicated corridor users while others languish.
Net neutrality boils down to this concept. ISP’s would seek to limit the p2p networks away from the tiered services and pushing them to the “public networks” which is worse in terms of packet loss and other hassles. However, at present, this can be circumvented easily by encrypting your torrents. Indeed, most of the clients give you this option. Your ISP would be unable to “snoop” on your data usage patterns.
This means that we are back to the status quo and tiered services would make no sense. Net neutrality arguments again would hold no water. Which means that I am as clueless as others are. Which also means that this is the golden time to leech on the p2p networks and download content.