Akamai Does Not Violate Network Neutrality

from the end-to-end-vs-end-to-middle dept

Many supporters of AT&T's plans to double dip in internet charges by ending neutrality claim that the internet has never been neutral, and point to systems like Akamai as an example of this. However, as we've explained in the past, this is simply untrue. It's purposely stretching the definition of network neutrality to make a point that isn't supported by the facts. Services like Akamai help make the internet faster for everyone. It doesn't discriminate. It holds to the "end-to-end" principle that a connection you buy to the internet entitles you to reach any content across that entire network. That's not what AT&T is looking to do. It's claiming that you really only have access to the cloud in the middle, and someone needs to pay for the second half of that connection from the middle out to the server you're accessing.

Tim Lee (who, like me, does not support net neutrality legislation) has ripped apart a paper that claims that Akamai is an example of why the internet is not neutral. Lee notes that the author of the paper doesn't even seem to understand how Akamai works, and provides a nice (more technology focused) explanation for why content caching systems have little to do with the network neutrality discussion: "A network is neutral if it faithfully transmits information from one end of the network to the other and doesn't discriminate among packets based on their contents. Neutrality is, in other words, about the behavior of the routers that move packets around the network. It has nothing to do with the behavior of servers at the edges of the network because they don't route anyone's packets."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2008 @ 8:56pm

    And that's the crux of the whole debate. People don't seem to understand that network neutrality is just that. About moving information as quickly and efficiently as possible no matter the origin or content. It's just to turn the Net into autobahns, and let the routers do their job.

    Should be the network administrator's job to 'police' the traffic coming into his/her network from the Net. I want to pay my ISP to hook my house to the Net and let me just go.

    For those worried about 'illicit' traffic, you'd still be able to stop that. It just would require actual police work such as hearing the 'word on the street' and checking out stuff yourself rather than slowing down my downloads because they LOOK like they're illicit. In real life, that's called 'profiling' and is wrong.

    Don't even get me started on ISPs wanting you to pay multiple times for the same thing. Getting really sick of people and corporations doing it. Shit has gotten out of hand in the last two decades.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Serge, Jan 17th, 2008 @ 10:13pm

    Services like Akamai help make the internet faster for everyone.

    No. They make the Internet content whose publisher has contracted with Akamai faster for everyone.

     

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  3.  
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    Wolferz (profile), Jan 18th, 2008 @ 1:36am

    they already are paying...

    You know one thing that bothers the heck out of me is a point I have yet to see any one else make.

    If I decide to start a website I need a host. There are a number of way to get one but general speaking I would pay some one to rent to me a server or space on a server, and to house and maintain that server. Part of the money I pay my hosting company will be put together with the money paid by other customers of that host to pay for ultra-high bandwidth internet service.

    Now in the time I have used ircd hosts, web hosts, and other forms of hosting I have never had a hosting service that received their internet connectivity directly from AT&T. I did have one that got service directly form Sprint but most of them used smaller ISP's offering fiber connections.

    So in the case of a Billy Bob's Shrimp Packaging's website (for example) Billy Bob pays the hosting company, who pays the ISP, who pays another ISP, who pays another ISP, so on and so forth till it reaches one of the major providers. In the case of the home computer the owner pays an ISP directly, who pays another ISP, who pays another ISP, who pays another ISP, so on and so forth until it reaches one of the major providers.

    The major carriers such as AT&T are not paying anyone except when performing maintenance on their network, upgrading equipment, paying their employees, or paying taxes. In fact, through a sort of trickle effect EVERY ONE is ALREADY paying THEM. The computer owner is paying them, whether he uses them as his primary ISP or not, and yes the website owner is in fact ALREADY paying them, whether his webhost gets internet directly from them or not. Major companies like Google are no different in this respect than owners of small websites. They just have many more sites, redundant servers, and entire server farms of their own.

    Perhaps I am wrong in my statements above. Things would certainly make more sense if I was. However, if I am not why is it that if companies like AT&T are already getting paid on both ends by every one they still think they should be allowed to charge one end again directly "or else." I mean if they were offering some benefit or additional service or even at least one service to begin with to a website owner, be it Google or Billy Bob's Shrimp Packaging, I might understand. Yet AT&T isn't providing anything to Google or Billy Bob. They are providing high bandwidth connectivity from across the continent to the ISP of the ISP of the ISP of Billy Bob and Google but they aren't providing anything to Billy Bob or Google directly. Worse they are threatening to take away a service THAT IS ALREADY PAID FOR unless the customer of the customer of the customer of the company that already paid for the service doesn't pay extra directly.

    Yet, it seems I am the only one who notices this. Perhaps I have it wrong. If I am right it seems like this would pretty much be an instant nail in the coffin for the whole idea of charging companies like Google "or else."

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Liquid, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 4:46am

    Capitolistic Society

    To a small degree I agree with Wolferz. When you use cable (copper lines for those who might not know) for your internet connection along with TV, and Phone service. I can see how your money might get to a major provider, but when it comes to useing fiber I don't agree with that at all because AT&T, Sprint, Bell South, etc... All these companies lease out their copper lines to local ISP's so that they can provide a service for an area that demands it. In the case of fiber, and there are only two at this time that I know about that offer cable straight to the house is Verizon which is in selected areas such Dallas Texas, Ft. Wayne IN, and a few other places for testing purposes. The local Boad of Pulic Utilites where I live is offering Fiber to the house. I could probably say with at least 85% assuraty that when it comes to the internet you're money isn't going to a major provider execpt maybe Verizon since they have been the ones laying unlit fiber accross the country. When it comes to your phone, and cable TV then yes I can see that portion of your money going to a major provider. Thats just my reasoning I could be 100% wrong to, but hey who knows.

    Another point is that in this country you will NEVER see Net Nutrality at least like you see in other countries around the world. Our society is way to capitolostic to let that happen. People everywhere in our pathetic little country has to have their hands in the honey pot and make a little somethin somethin to. You will never see our bandwidth speed reach that of our forign allies. That's because over in Europe they believe in a socialized network for the internet. There are ALOT of articles out there that point this out.

    http://www.news.com/Internet-speed-record-broken/2100-1033_3-5242144.html

    http://www.msnb c.msn.com/id/19832184/

    These speeds are 100% possible to the home. It's just another showing of how money hungry our country is when it comes to providing services. Capitolism at its finest.

    I hope you all remember the raid that the sweedish police did on the proprietors of one of the most used BitTorrent sits Pirate Bay back in 2006 or 2007. Many articles stated that they police over there DIDN'T care what they were doing over the internet they would rather spend more time dealing with actual physical crimes. It was to the badgering of one our countries most capitolistic companies the RIAA/MPAA that got them to finally seize computers and network equipment to try and catch them breaking U.S. copy right laws. What they found out was that they were NEVER hosting ANY files on servers or computers that contained the actual data that the RIAA/MPAA was hopeing they had. The botton line is that you will never see socialized internet in the U.S. untill the government finally just goes F*** IT we don't care anymore and just orders these companies to open bandwidth, and stop throttleing back network protocols that they feel are being used for malicious purposes... WE WILL FIND A WAY TO GET WHAT WE WANT IN THE END... whether or not its on the internet... So I say thank you to countries like Europe that have socialized networks and are willing to provide their users with 40gig bit speed to the house... thats what we need all over the world... data traveling at the speed of light...

    Ok im done... Thank you for listening and just a reminder this has been a public service anouncement. Had this been an actual emergancy you would have been instructed to turn your computer off, dissconect your cable modem, and cram it in the bum of your local ISP and give them the finger for not helping with the goal of Network Nutrality.

    Thank You

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 5:13am

    Aka-what?

    Aka-what?
    Never heard of it
    Dont need it

     

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  6.  
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    Griff (profile), Jan 18th, 2008 @ 5:14am

    Re: Capitolistic Society

    >> So I say thank you to countries like Europe that have socialized networks

     

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  7.  
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    Adrian, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 5:22am

    Re: Aka-what?

    Odds are that if you've dl:ed a movie from a corporate website, you used Akamai.

    Just because you never heard of it doesn't mean you don't need or even use it. Akamai is arguably one of the least known services in comparison to number of users. I'd wager that probably less than a percent of its end-users know that they use it.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 6:35am

    Fact is, 99.999% of the people don't need or care about high bandwidth. Got a big 100mbps connection, too bad, the servers you hit and the programs that run are just not that fast. The vast majority of people wouldn't be able to notice the difference between a 10mbps and 100. Thats a fact jack.

     

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  9.  
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    Overcast, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 7:42am

    I don't use Akamai... I found a nice little host file that blocks them along with doubleclick.net.

    Along with that, I use FireFox and the NoScript Add-on. It's amazing how many sites GoogleSyndication, Akamai, and some others are trying to run scripts from. I don't allow them - sorry, tough... it's my PC.

    I truly love NoScript for FireFox - unless I specifically tell it to - it refuses to run any script.

    Akamai never sat right with me, all too many times, I'd run a 'Netstat -A' and see them connected to my machine, even if all browser windows were closed. A bit of googling and I managed to find a host file that pretty much re-directed most of their known servers, along with a host of others to 127.0.0.1

    And you know - you'd be amazed how well everything still works. It could be said it makes things work faster - but I can go from page to page lightning fast without all those scripts running.

    And that's network neutrality - me choosing who can and cannot connect to my machine :P

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Liquid, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 7:45am

    Re: Anonymous Coward

    But 99.999% of people that use a computer only care about speed how fast they can surf the internet... yes I can agree that they wont notice a difference in speed if they are just going from site to site, but if they are downloading programs that happen to be several gigabytes in size they will notice the difference... You should read the 2nd article that was posted... that lady was downloading 4gig moves in under 2-3 mins where it would take you possibly what 5-6 hours normally hell maybe even a whole day to download a file of that size... Even though most people don't down load files that size all the time, there is still the possibility that they might... with the way programs are being developed now-a-days they are getting larger and larger... If companies want to offer those programs for download off their sites like ohhhhh lets see Adobe, Blizzard, Microsoft, where a person can pay to download the software from home instad of haveing order it and wait for UPS to show up 3-4 days later... Why wait tomorrow what you can get right now... so yes... they will notice a difference...

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Paul`, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 7:52am

    Re:

    Depends, if you're going to be downloading things from multiple sources at once then it would allow more simultaneous downloads. But yeah, from one source you aren't going to use all that downstream.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 7:54am

    Actually no, even if you're subscribing to a fiber connection, all big boys still see a share of your money. No single ISP has a worldwide backbone, country, continental, regional, yes. Not world wide. So, if you want to get to a site in say.. timbuktu.. you'll have to pass traffic across lines that go to timbuktu. At the end of the quarter, year, whatever.. the big ISP's get together and see if data outbound matches data inbound. If it does, wonderful. If it doesn't, money is exchanged to pay for usage. AT&T gets paid, and they want to be paid at both ends. More important than that, it breaks the worldwide network if they get paid at both ends. Europe doesn't have legislation that allows them to be payed twice, so what does a site in Europe do if someone in America tries to access it? They are screwed is what they are. If they want American customers they have to make a side deal with AT&T to allow packets to be sent at all, or to be sent at full speed. Something thats illegal in the country they live in. Or worse yet, a double standard will come about. American companies have to pay twice, while worldwide companies don't.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Liquid, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 8:23am

    Thats all thanks to our money grubbing capitalistic American society. Everyone here has to make money some where any where no matter how shady or greedy it is. The fact still remains that at some point the Major ISP's of America are going to segregate us from the rest of the world in terms of the global network... We are going to be stuck paying them double what we pay now... The interesting thing is like AT&T stated last week that they are going to start throttling network traffic that they think is illegal right when it was announced that Comcast is under investigation for that very same reason... It's going to be interesting when courts decided that throttling network activity is wrong, and makes it illegal... AT&T is going to get screwed on that point... Hopefully at some point someone steps in and says "hey it should be illegal for a company to charge someone twice for a service..." Especially at both ends since you have to pay for an internet connection, and the company that you are connecting to has to pay for their connection they are already get that money... Its just F***ed up... Since no one is really fighting this type of activity we are going to be stuck with slow bandwidth speeds because they find that HTTP traffic is malicious...

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    chad, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Overcast

    "I don't use Akamai... I found a nice little host file that blocks them along with doubleclick.net."

    Are you sure you know what you are talking about? Akamai is a caching service. They have servers physically located in many colos around the world, at major hubs, etc. When you request something, say www.yahoo.com what happens is your computer is sent to not yahoo but Akamai. Akamai chooses the machine that is closest to you and serves the data from it's cache. If the data is not in the cache it fetches it from yahoo, stores it and serves it to you.

    Akamai is not an advertising company, though they are likely hired by advertisers. Akamai does not initiate any connection to your computer. If you see a connection from netstat, it is some program (malicious or not) that is running on your computer, and what it is transferring is sped up by Akamai.

    Here's a hint to find out who originated a connection, in your netstat output the column that lists a known service port is not the initiator, for example:
    TCP cube:1817 media.xfire.com:http ESTABLISHED
    this says that my computer ('cube') connected to media.xfire.com over http. The port on cube is 1817, which is randomly selected, the port on media.xfire.com is http (80) a known port.

    Lastly, since Akamai has millions of computers caching things around the world it is unlikely that you can have a host file that "blocks" them, plus if you did there would be many sites that would be inaccessible to you, yahoo being just one.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jan 19th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Yeah, it mentions it'll block Windows Update, etc..

    http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=host+file+block+Akamai&btnG= Google+Search

    There are plenty out there.
    And I don't have any issues. The question is not who initiated the connection, it's why it persists after all browser sessions are closed.. heh

    Those sites are still accessible, like others that no script blocks, but functionality can be limited.

    So, ok - I put the default hosts back for a while to check thier page. They just 'cache', huh?

    5. Akamai's services use a third party, WebTrends Inc., to collect non-personally identifiable information about end users, and provides our customers with the option to purchase the WebTrends On Demand service through Akamai. In addition to Akamai-provided network data, one of the primary methods used by this third party to collect anonymous data is the placement of cookies. Cookies are small information files that an end user's Web browser places on that user's computer when a Web site is visited. In addition to the session cookie, WebTrends uses other anonymous data collection methods such as appending query strings to an image request. These data collection methods are subject to change from time to time as technology develops. For additional detail on WebTrends policies regarding data collection and management, please visit

    http://www.akamai.com/html/policies/privacy_principles.html

    That's not... quite.. what it says until their 'privacy' statement...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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