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."

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


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  1. icon
    Wolferz (profile), 18 Jan 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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