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."
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Filed Under: cdn, end to end, net neutrality
Companies: akamai


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 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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