Getting Rid Of Sidewalk Neutrality

from the analogies-are-fun dept

It’s true that network neutrality is a complex issue — which often leads people to various analogies to try to make it clearer. Some come across as silly, such as the series of tubes, and some are a lot more interesting. Bob Frankston is getting some attention today for his re-imagining of the network neutrality debate if it were about sidewalks instead of the internet. As others are noting, it helps highlight why congestion isn’t really the issue. It is, once again, about protecting a business model, not about increasing innovation to make their own networks more valuable.

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Comments on “Getting Rid Of Sidewalk Neutrality”

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Ryu says:

I think that in the end, people will go with whichever side of the story they understand, thats where all these stupid analogies come into the game. All of pro-tiered internet campaigns focus on the sense of security, “Dedicated internet lines for hospitals and the police” or something like that I dont remember ^^, and we all know people LOVE security.

P.S. why the %$&* would a hospital need internet priority?!?… I’ve never heard someone died because te network was congested :S

bee sting says:

Re: to Ryu

I understand why emergency facilities like hospitals and police stations need priority ..

Ryu I’m sorry but if you think some guy playing a game online or downloading porn is more important then a doctor trying to get medical records for someone bleeding to death so they can make sure they don’t have allergic reactions or medications reactions then you need to grow up..

discojohnson says:

Re: Re: to Ryu

well.. you do have a point.. i guess you’re sort of right. with an exception: the difference is getting medical records in 200ms or 180ms. BFD. the tubes are big enough to hold all my porn and horse betting, and even my casino chips and my rhinoplasty records….all at the same time, because if one tube is full TCP/IP WILL ROUTE TRAFFIC AROUND THE SLOW LANE.

Ryu says:


I’m sorry if I didnt explain myself correctly, but some of you people took my post in the wrong sense, and some of you proved my point. And I think I was out of context with my P.S. (I’ve seen 2 flash “commercials” this past week about net neutrality and all they focused on providing a dedicated pipe for hospitals police and other things that could provide a sense of security)

And also note that by DEDICATED they did mean dedicated. Which has nothing to do with net neutrality. Net neutrality is about prioritizing elements within a single network (to my understanding, im no internet professional or know specifically how it works), It has nothing to do with creating a “private” network for determined ‘clients’.

Note that with my first post was the manipulative condition of the government’s campaign (which government campaign isn’t), and how they have managed to twist the information and drive away the attention from what’s really important: Without net-neutrality the telcos will be able to control what goes through their pipes and what doesn’t, or how fast or slow it goes i.e. you are only provided with what THEY want YOU to have, and if THEY dont like what YOU want, you are not getting it.

DaveP (user link) says:

Hospital network priority

You’d be amazed at how much traffic is generated inside even a small hospital… our radiiology department is entirely digital… images of incredible size are transmitted off-site for remote analysis and second opinions. In a trauma case this could truely be an issue of life or death.

As far as from a security standpoint, your health information in the US is protected by the HIPAA act… information about patients is only permitted to be accessed by authorized caregivers directly associated with the patient being cared for.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hospital network priority

As far as from a security standpoint, your health information in the US is protected by the HIPAA act… information about patients is only permitted to be accessed by authorized caregivers directly associated with the patient being cared for.

Yeah, right. Your right to decide who can see and use your sensitive, personal medical information was eliminated in 2003. Your medical records are open to use by over 800,000 for-profit corporations that have nothing to do with your medical care or payment.

Luci (profile) says:

Re: Re: Hospital network priority

*yawn* Trust me, I read everything I sign, and the information given on your link? A bunch of hooey. None of the wording or fine print mentioned on that page appears anywhere on anything I have ever signed. The new forms I’ve been given /require/ the name of the agency requesting the information, and do not include any language that would allow that information to be shared anywhere along the line. I’ll need more than hearsay to belive any of this.

As to bandwidth and emergency rooms? Or even the hospitals in general. Bandwidth is incredibly important in such situations. Someone quoted a difference of 20ms. Okay, fine. That’s in one hop. And those hops add up very, very quickly. I’m also a transplant recipient, and if you think a couple of seconds doesn’t matter here or there when someone is waiting to get a new heart or liver, then you need to think again.

Starrider says:

Re: Re: Re: Hospital network priority

Then you are old and need to die. Make way for someone else so we don’t need to pay for your transplant (through higher insurance rates), for your S.S. (through our payroll taxes now at 30%) and through yet another tax because you do not understand the nature of how signals move through and around the internet, just so some corp. can make even more money off of infrastracture that has already been paid for through – you guessed it -even more taxes (passed on to us as another subscriber fee.)

NetBiased says:


That’s the point, it has nothing to do with net neutrality… why would you want people thinking about the actual issue when you can get them debating on something that’s unrelated… whoever started the idea that the police and hospitals have anything to do with net neutrality is either severly mistaken or has been bought…

Dan says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ok, fair enough — an you’re right I should do a little homework. I did lookup this net neutrality and read a few things… and there’s nothing like a new IT concept to humble my sense that I know a lot about IT.

I don’t see what the big deal is. IPv6 has been around for years and allows for prioritization of packets, specifically for things like video and VoIP… yet I haven’t seen it explicitly mentioned in any net neutrality article.

If the intention is to allow a “fast lane”, then it would seem that IPv6 down to the end node (i.e. consumer computer) is the way to go.

I’ve got to keep reading, I guess. Hopefully I’ve got some kind of a grasp over what they’re talking about. I’ve yet to see the term “net neutrality” defined in anything less than 3 paragraphs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Really really dumbed down definition

The telcos are greedy and want you to pay more for people to have fast access to your website. Also they can slow down access to competitors sites, anti-[insert telco name here] sites, etc. That’s pretty much all you need to know if you don’t want to do any research. If you do want to do some research a good starting point is

Monarch says:

Re: Re:

#7 Anon Cow,

You’re the reason so many people are creating analogies. Your ignorance blinds you. If the hospital is worth it’s weight in feathers, it would purchase a dedicated bandwidth connection. Such as a T1 or DS3 or Fiber OC3, OC12 or higher.

And if that is the case, why not build a PRN with dedicated circuits between all hospitals. MPLS Private Ports are excelent. And a lot of businesses and governments already use them. There’s no need for net neutrality there.

However, I know of too many health care providers and hospitals who try to run their LANs over simple ATM/Frame DSL connections. Come on, no need to talk net neutrallity with that sort of unreliable connection which shares it’s bandwith with all other connections on the same ATM/Frame cloud.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ultimately the question of net neutrality is about the type of traffic, not where the traffic is being routed to. It’s not about pulling over to let the ambulence go by, it’s more like Ford owning a toll road, and then charging Toyotas more to use it. For instance, with a non-neutral net, telco DSL providers could charge you more for you to connect to a VOIP provider just because they want to make up for the revenue they lost by not having you use their phone service. Perhaps they have a deal with Yahoo, so they give priority to users connecting to over users trying to connect to ISPs could make websites of competing ISPs take forever to load (or even block them entirely). Worst case: look at China.

g says:

Bright Red Herrings

Hospital traffic has nohting to do with the internet, and if theyre connected to other hospitals, theres no need to even go over the internet. They can have dedicated lines.

If its life or death, they better. If they arent, theyre being negligent.

“The Internet” has no prioritized traffic throughout and never has. Some networks in it will prioritize things, others different things.

There is no standard for this though.

If you dont understand anything about peering arrangements between Tier 1 ISPs and how BGP works (in general), then you dont understand anything about the way the Internet works today.

You need to start reading there if you want to have an informed opinion. From user TCP/IP standpoint, knowing networking is not good enough to understand how the internet works.

Anonymous Coward says:


Many of the hospitals in my state are part of a consortium that shares resources. This includes having a central database of patient information. What does this mean? It means that if you’re out of town and have to go to a different hospital, they can still access your information quickly and easily, allowing you to be treated sooner (especially important for unconscious patients).

In such a situation, it’s necessary to have high, dedicated bandwidth. Consider that it’s not just the occassional request, but rather constant requests, many at a time, and from several locations. Buy more bandwidth? As most hospitals are non-profit, they generally don’t have the funds. Besides, excepting with the government, when did ANYTHING overtake public healthcare as a priority?

Anonymous Coward says:

Telcos: Sell lots of Bandwidth cheaply to get Rich

The cost of bandwith keeps falling rapidly.

A few years ago I would not have said that, but I realise that the increase in fibre capacity (currently about 150 Gigbytes/sec per fibre) and the ability to place lots of fibres in a one inch bundle i.e. over 50 in a 1 inch bundle under the Atlantic shows we can lay fibres easily to provide huge bandwidth ( 100 fibres X

170Gbyte/sec is 170000Gigabytes/set Not fast enough – lay another bundle ! The cost per bit is RAPIDLY tending towards zero).

This suggests that we can have all the bandwidth we need so that there will be no delay will not be a problem. In fact almost all the delays we see on the net to day are due to server delays not fiber bottleneck. Global Packet Loss

to see more.

I am reminded of my childhood in the UK. I paid for

every local phone call and so tried to use the phone as little as

possible. The phone company didn’t get much revenue

from the users and so had to chage a lot per call, compared to the US users who was willing to use the phone more.

The much higher phone usage in the US had the effect of speeding up business in the US – both for the customer and the business who served the customer. I am sure that cheaper cost per call in the US helped the US economy to grow faster than that in the UK

If the telcos can focus -[ like e.g. Sweden] in providing

large fast high speed links than they will benefit from the

resutling economic growth. Without that the Us will run the risk of losing out in the info revolution as the innovators will innovate outside the US, much to its loss.

SC says:

It's all about the $

So I’ll try not to get a bunch of analogies going here but I agree with Mike – this is all about the business model. Telcos/Cable invested and are investing in very expensive infrastructure and want to monetize it to get a return for their shareholders. When broadband access was $44.95 they could imagine a reasonable return at some point. At $19.95 they don’t have a hope of making it. The have to find new avenues for revenue while being competitive. This leads to the next set of product innovation on their side – IPTV – now the interesting thing here is that for IPTV to work in a multi-service home (VoIP, Internet access, TV) you have to priortize traffic in the telco’s network. Giving a google video clip equal priority with a unicast or multicast tv show could create a negative consumer experience for the very TV service that the consumer is paying for. There is of course the implicit assumption that when the consumer pays for a specific service (TV) they are asking their provider to prioritize it over the free stuff.

Now while all of this is a great logical arguement it does nothing to further the overall value of the network or foster innovation. But guess what, telcos paid for the last mile infrastructure and that’s not their problem – it ain’t a pretty answer – but it’s the truth. If you want to foster the value of the network and create innovation get U. Sam to pay for laying fiber to the home and just have the telcos run it – then you have a leg to stand on. Otherwise you best build into your business plan the expectation that when you’re on a private road (that last mile to my house) you should expect to pay the owner. (sorry couldn’t resist an analogy – it was just too hard)

Dave says:

SC gets the issue

VoIP, streaming multi-media, large file transfers do not co-exist peacefully. Sure you can by more bandwidth, or you could utilize QoS metrics to ensure that which needs to get there speedily, but doesn’t use a lot of bandwidth (VoIP) can. No increase in bandwidth, or any significant degradation in other services. You know why VoIP quality is fine for a while, then its terrible for a few moments? Momentary network congestion. Network neutrality is not the answer, but neither should the network be differentiated by business interests. However, it is quite useful for the network to be differentiated on services, and in fact, the internet is quite poor at delivering certain types of services. Implementing QoS is a mechanism for getting around that deficiency.

It seems to me that the answer is quite simple, but it will never catch on because everybody would rather score political points. The answer would be to require that a certain portion of bandwidth be set aside for equal access. The rest of the bandwidth could be reserved for QoS based services. For example a service provider provides Joe 100 kpbps of bandwidth. 50 kbps of that is “neutral”, the remainder can have differentiated services applied.

Both sides can be happy, hell, it might even make sense to have the end user choose how to divide up their network. Both extremes of this debate scare me … here’s hoping the extremes fail and a moderate view prevails.

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