Deep Packet Inspection Firms Trying To Turn Net Neutrality Satire Into Reality

from the yeah,-good-luck-with-that dept

It's been around for a few years, but those of you who follow the net neutrality debate may have seen the following "example" here or there of what various ISPs would like to do to the internet if they could:
Basically, the idea is that, if they could, ISPs would like to charge you for what you used specifically online. Of course, this was a joke. It was satire. But, then, a bunch of folks have been talking about a recent presentation given by some deep packet inspection firms, about the future of mobile broadband, where they seem to pitch something quite similar -- except they're serious:
The idea, as discussed over at Broadband Reports, is that this is a way for ISPs to get more money out of people using their broadband. It's all hilariously illustrated by the following graphic in the presentation:
This, of course, implies that ISPs are somehow unfairly carrying the burden of the services people access online. It may sound nice, but the problem is that it's almost entirely false. Individuals pay for their own bandwidth, and companies pay for their bandwidth. What the ISPs are hoping to do is to effectively double and triple charge both sides in an effort to squeeze even more money out of the system than they already do. What's ignored is that broadband services are already quite profitable, and they're already getting paid for this stuff. What's really happening is that -- just as content providers "overvalue" their content, this story is about ISPs overvaluing their own contribution, and wanting a larger piece of the pie concerning money made online. What they ignore is that the reason there are so many useful services online, that make it worthwhile to buy internet access in the first place, is because of the lack of such tollbooths.

However, before people get too alarmed about all of this, and start demanding "net neutrality" laws, it's worth taking a step back and recognizing just how unlikely it is that proposals like this ever get anywhere. Would the various mobile operators like to do this? Sure. In fact, for years, they tried to resist more open systems by totally locking down their handsets. Even with so-called "smartphones," the experience was entirely controlled (with tollbooths) by the mobile operators. And what happened? Almost no one used them. It wasn't until Apple broke down that wall (though, it set up its own, slightly more open wall) that smartphone usage really took off. And, these days, with even more open Android systems growing, more people are moving to those as well.

Will some mobile operators sign up for a DPI system like this? Maybe. I can certainly see some of them testing it out. But, I can't see it ever actually catching on. While the operators will claim that this will allow for "cheaper" plans for low level users, history has shown that they don't really mean that. The goal is to get the higher level users paying through the nose. And that won't work -- because people have already learned what can be done with mobile broadband on a device, and simply won't agree to go to a system that charges like this. It's a pipedream for some DPI companies and some mobile operators, but the likelihood of it actually becoming the norm seems pretty damn low.

Filed Under: deep packet inspection, mobile broadband, net neutrality, wireless

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  1. identicon
    HrilL, 17 Dec 2010 @ 2:56pm


    I don't know what rock you're living under but I bet the average price for an internet connection of about 10Mbps down and 1Mbps up is around $50. Thats $600 a year for each house. I believe Verizon said it cost about $1400 per home to install brand new fiber to each house. Cable companies already have the cables and all they have to do is upgrade the back end to DOCSIS 3 From the current version 2 that most are using to give each home 100Mbps. A much cheaper upgrade. Most ISPs make you buy your own or rent their modems anyway so that cost isn't theirs.

    We pay for our bandwidth already and should be able to access any contact at our sold speed no matter what the kind of content it is. It should not be up to my ISP to decide that any one type of traffic is more important. If they have to do QOS to keep reasonable latencies then they've over sold capacity and lied to their customers.

    QoS should only be done on your own router if you're worried about Voice or video traffic not getting enough bandwidth that you were sold because you're also using other types of traffic at the same time. If I get 10Mbps from my ISP then it is my job to mange how I use that 10Mbps. Their job is to make sure I have access to 10Mbps of bandwidth at all times. If they can't offer me 10Mbps then they shouldn't sell 10Mbps.

    Content providers already pay for bandwidth as well. Its not as if they're getting it for free. No one is free loading here. Say I'm a content provider and I have 1Gbps of bandwidth. That would allow me to serve 100 customers at 10Mbps. I'm not serving the customer 100Mbps while they are only paying for 10Mbps. They're limited to the amount that they pay for.

    Why should a content provider have to pay an ISP to have access to their customers when they're already paying for their connection and the content provider is paying for theirs. Clearly the ISP is trying to double dip on charging for the same bandwidth. This shouldn't be allowed.

    What do you mean by "make someone else pay"? Everyone is already paying. No one is free loading anything here. The customer pays for 10Mbps. The content provider pays for 1Gbps in order to serve 100 customers. Who exactly isn't paying?

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