The News – 06/22/06
Net Switzerland in Danger
is famous for cheese, chocolate, numbered bank accounts, and for being a
neutral country, which probably enabled those numbered accounts in the first
place. High worth individuals felt comfortable stashing their well- or
ill-gotten gains because they knew Switzerland wasn’t likely to kowtow to law
enforcers or snooping governments from other countries – they were neutral.
until the present moment, the Internet has been a neutral country; if you have
enough money for an Internet connection, your traffic is accepted and delivered
to its destination just like anyone else’s. The product of a democratic nation,
the Internet has been the ultimate democracy. People coming to the StratVantage
site enjoy the same speed and priority as people going to Yahoo, Google,
Microsoft, or the other mega-sites. And that’s the way we like it.
businesses such as MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, and YouTube have been able to catch on and grow with
only the relatively minor growing pains of having to pay more to their Internet
Service Providers due to an increase in traffic.
there are folks, not coincidentally folks in the Internet
backbone business, who would like higher volume sites to pay more for the
privilege of receiving users’ traffic.
of the first indications of the change in attitude from the semi-altruistic
policy of “We’ll carry anyone’s traffic, and anyone will carry ours” came last
fall when Level 3 Communications refused
to carry the traffic of another Internet infrastructure provider, Cogent Communications.
Level 3 shut down the connection between itself and Cogent, affecting many of Cogent’s
9,500 customers, including Time Warner Cable, Harvard, Boston College, and MIT,
isolating them from key areas of the Internet.
to a Network World article
at the time:
Peering is mutually advantageous when both partners
exchange similar traffic volumes, but Level 3 says it was carrying the bulk of
the traffic in its deal with Cogent. "The larger company ends up
disadvantaged because it ends up providing essentially free capacity,"
said Level 3 spokeswoman Jennifer Daumler. "In Cogent's case, we
determined that the arrangement was not reasonable or commercially
Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer disputes Level 3's
characterization and says the dropped peering arrangement is really Level 3's
attempt at playing hardball with a rival that has been undercutting it on
"The root cause of this is Level 3's strong
desire to pressure Cogent into raising our prices," Schaeffer said.
"They have been very vocal and very upset at our gain in market share and
our pricing policy."
the Internet is highly redundant, even when a peering relationship ends,
traffic may still go through, using roundabout, slower routes, but some traffic
won’t be delivered. Thus peering ensures quicker delivery of traffic and a
more-responsive Internet. (Incidentally, if you’re interested in an
up-to-the-minute snapshot of how well the Internet is working, check out the Internet
has had similar fights with other peers, notably AOL and France Telecom, both
of which ended peering agreements with Cogent. And this was not the first
dispute over peering that we’ve seen. In 2001, a similar contract dispute led
Cable & Wireless to cut
off its connection to PSINet, one of the oldest Net backbone companies.
Internet was built on this very important idea: Big infrastructure providers,
whose long, high-speed communications lines crisscross the country and the
world, would enter into peering agreements with other providers, thus enabling
both peers to hand off traffic in order to get it delivered to its ultimate
Lumeta's Graphic Map of the Internet
would be no Internet today if these providers had not developed this system of
traffic routing. If there were no mutual peering agreements, each network would
have to negotiate with all other networks and charge them for handling, for
example, East Coast traffic on one network destined for Google’s servers in San
Francisco, on another network.
providers might be able to argue that they would have made more money by
charging for peering connections, adding a huge bureaucratic system of charge
backs and trades would make the Internet less free (and more expensive) and
turns out many of these Internet backbone providers aren’t making money – both
Level 3 and Cogent are bleeding cash, and Cogent is undercutting everyone’s
prices. So it’s only natural that they are trying to increase their revenue.
And their latest idea is a really bad one for neutrality, democracy, and the
providers plan to start shaking down huge Websites for protection money (Youse
know, Mr. Google, it would be a real shame if sumptin’ was to happen to your traffic
from my network, know whad I mean?) has raised a stink among the digerati (Web originator
Berners-Lee) and, alas, our elected representatives, who never met a
hyperbolic name for a bill they didn’t like (Internet
Freedom Preservation Act, Internet
Non-Discrimination Act of 2006, Net Neutrality bill,
Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006, Communications,
Consumer's Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006).
they evidently have gotten the buzzword for the controversy – Net
Neutrality – Congress still doesn’t seem to get that the Internet, being a
worldwide phenomenon, is not totally under their control. While US legislation
can affect US backbone providers, it obviously cannot coerce providers
throughout the world. The relevant section of the most popular bill, the Snowe-Dorgan-Inouye
Internet Freedom Preservation Act, goes thusly:
(4) [Providers must] enable any content,
application, or service made available via the Internet to be offered,
provided, or posted on a basis that-
(A) is reasonable
and nondiscriminatory, including with respect to quality of service, access, speed,
(B) is at least
equivalent to the access, speed, quality of service, and bandwidth that such
broadband service provider offers to affiliated content, applications, or
services made available via the public Internet into the network of such broadband
service provider; and
(C) does not impose a
charge on the basis of the type of content, applications, or services made
available via the Internet into the network of such broadband service provider;
(5) [Providers must] only prioritize content,
applications, or services accessed by a user that is made available via the
Internet within the network of such broadband service provider based on the
type of content, applications, or services and the level of service purchased by
the user, without charge for such prioritization;
(6) [Providers must] not install or utilize network
features, functions, or capabilities that impede or hinder compliance with this
this section says is, Internet providers can’t discriminate against its best
customers. This hardly seems to be the type of thing that should be legislated.
It seems more like a rule of good business. Next Congress will declare that
airlines can’t charge more for tickets bought close to the departure date,
which also effectively discriminates against their best customers – business
travelers. Wait a minute. That actually might not be a bad idea!
SNS Reader Larry Kuhn sums up his attitude toward Net Neutrality enforced
through US laws like this:
Personally, although I know I’m living in fantasy
world, I’d prefer if we could maintain net neutrality without laws to mandate
it. These types of legislated technology mandate, although they begin with
the noblest of intents, always have a way of inspiring odd and unexpected
corporate profiteering and bureaucratic inefficiency that will look very
foolish many years down the road when the technology changes enough to disrupt
the assumptions that the laws are based on.
I would liken the whole net neutrality situation to
the way wireless spectrum is handled today. The entire structure is
predicated on the technology of the earliest days of analog radio technology,
and it completely stifles the use of spread spectrum and other technologies
that could deliver more capability more cheaply than what we are now legally
agree with Larry. We can’t rely on Congress solving a problem now without
creating another problem later.
Net Neutrality is bad enough, but the act also proposes another, possibly more
deeply flawed, technical solution. It prevents providers from establishing
different classes of network traffic (like enabling better Quality of Service (QoS)
for voice and video.) QoS guarantees are actually one of the biggest
deficiencies in the current Internet. Packets are packets, and all are routed
with the same priority. Those who want to provide voice or video services on
the Internet struggle with this fact.
why should you care? If the bittorrent
packets of last night’s episode of Desperate
Housewives are delayed a few milliseconds on their way to you, it might not
matter too much to you. But if the packets that make up live video or a phone
call are delayed, the quality dramatically suffers and you will definitely not
QoS concepts into the way Internet traffic is routed may be required for it to
take the next leap, and become a reliable, efficient delivery pipe for all
kinds of on-demand, real-time content.
would be wise to stay out of technical and business decisions like these and
let the market take care of it. That’s what happened with the Level 3 case:
Users got up in arms about the disruption in service and Level 3 had to back
down. Setting a precedent of regulating the Internet could be the mythical
slippery slope that gives legislators the idea that they can control not only
how the Internet is put together, but ultimately – like China – control the
kind of content that moves over it.
a single Internet provider started to charge large Websites more for bandwidth
or to guarantee preferred delivery, they’d be cutting their own throats. If the
whole industry colluded, with a nod and a wink, and all started to do it, the
government could prosecute under existing anti-trust laws. Even if that was ineffective,
smaller players would inevitably take the initiative to fill the void, perhaps
using the tens of thousands of miles of dark
fiber already in the ground. (At one point, Level 3 had 16,000 miles of
intercity dark fiber capacity available for sale.)
an old saying about the Internet coined by John
Gilmore, one of the co-founders of the Electronic
Frontier Foundation: “The Internet interprets censorship as damage and
routes around it.” In this case, the Internet would interpret the obstruction posed
by higher rates for popular sites as damage, and route around that.
also little likelihood, in my view, that the huge companies who depend on the
Internet for their livelihood, including Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft (try
downloading Microsoft’s patch-of-the-month over a dial-up connection), would
sit idly by while they were gouged. Chances are good they’d band together and
get into the telecommunications business. (Google’s already doing that as a
partner in the citywide San Francisco wireless project and has expressed interest
in hiring a dark
fiber employee who would be responsible for “Identification, selection, and
negotiation of dark fiber contracts both in metropolitan areas and over long
distances as part of development of a global backbone network.”)
I don’t think legislation is the answer, but Internet users should be worried
nonetheless. Think of how your business would be affected if your Website (and
email) were relegated to a low-bandwidth, backwater ghetto of the Internet. Let
your elected representatives know what you think on the subject of Internet
neutrality, and hope they get a clue.
- Shameless Self-Promotion
Dept.: As if I don’t have enough Websites, I just released www.YourWhitePaper.com, which,
oddly enough, is all about how I can write a technical white paper to help
you market your products or services.
I’ve added a bunch of stuff that didn’t make it into SNS to the Raw File, a
collection of such tidbits. It’s now over half a meg, so I split the page
into two parts.
I’m republishing SNS on a couple of other services now, including Gather, and I’ve changed the StratVantage Stratlets
hosting to use Blogspot.
I was interviewed for ManagementFirst’s Feature
of the Month and got to toot my horn for a bit.
The WiMAX Guys’ main business is new installs for people who want to set
up wireless hotspots such as hotels, warehouses, apartment buildings, and
office buildings or hotzones that cover cities. We also sell a
knowledge-based Web portal called the MAX
K-Base. Check out our main Website at www.TheWiMAXGuys.com.
The first chapter of my wife’s novel, Knowing What You Know Today is up on
her Website. The rest of the book costs money – now at a new lower price!
– but it’s well worth it, believe you me. Check it out at www.debellsworth.com.
She’s also put up a new site, www.empathysymbol.com
to publicize the empathy symbol she designed back in college.
Many issues ago I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for you, gentle reader,
to express your appreciation by tipping your server via PayPal. See the
sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty so far: $111.48.
And now that I’m partnered with one of the largest advertisers on the
planet, Google, that should be kicking in serious coin to the StratVantage
coffers. Let’s see. The current total is: $89.84. Great. BTW, I am
informed that I can’t ask you to read this issue on the Web and click on
the ads due to Google’s terms of service. So don’t. You can, however, shop
at Amazon, pay nothing additional, and send a spiff to me.
- FISH of the Day: The Forwarded Internet Serial Humor of the
Day today comes from Alert SNS Reader Doug Laney of Evalubase Research. And they call it
the Weaker Sex . . .
THE NEXT SURVIVOR SERIES
Six married men will be dropped on an island with
one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.
Each kid will play two sports and either take music
or dance classes.
There is no fast food.
Each man must take care of his 3 kids; keep his
assigned house clean, correct all homework, complete science projects, cook, do
laundry, and pay a list of "pretend" bills with not enough money.
In addition, each man will have to budget in money
for groceries each week.
Each man must remember the birthdays of all their
friends and relatives, and send cards out on time.
Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment,
a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment. He must make one unscheduled
and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care (weekend, evening, on a
holiday or right when they're about to leave for vacation). He must also make
cookies or cupcakes for a social function.
Each man will be responsible for decorating his own
assigned house, planting flowers outside and keeping it presentable at all
The men will only have access to television when
the kids are asleep and all chores are done.
There is only one TV between them, and a remote
with dead batteries.
Each father will be required to know all of the
words to every stupid song that comes on TV and the name of each and every
character on cartoons.
The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily,
which they will apply to themselves either while driving or making three
Each man will have to make an Indian hut model with
six toothpicks, a tortilla and one marker, and get a 4-year-old to eat a
serving of peas.
Each man must adorn himself with jewelry, wear
uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep his nails polished and eyebrows groomed.
The men must try to get through each day without snot, spit-up or barf on their
During one of the six weeks, the men will have to
endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood
swings but never once complain or slow down from other duties. They must try to
explain what a tampon is for when the 6-yr old boy finds it in the purse.
They must attend weekly school meetings, church,
and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar
He will need to read a book and then pray with the
children each night without falling asleep, and then feed them, dress them,
brush their teeth and comb their hair each morning by 7. They must leave the
home with no food on their face or clothes.
A test will be given at the end of the six weeks,
and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each
child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes size and doctor's name.
Also the child's weight at birth, length, time of birth, and length of labor,
each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song,
favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear and what they want to be when they
They must clean up after their sick children at
2:00 a.m. and then spend the remainder of the day tending to that child and
waiting on them hand and foot until they are better.
They must have a loving, age appropriate reply to,
"You're not the boss of me".
The kids vote them off the island based on
performance. The last man wins only if...he still has enough energy to be intimate
with his spouse at a moment's notice.
If the last man does win, he can play the game over
and over and over again for the next 18-25 years...eventually earning the right
to be called Mother!
- Join the Alert SNS Reader Group! You may have heard of a
concept called Web 2.0 (or even the more grandiose Web 3.0). Basically
it’s about adding to Web-based software the kind of interactive and
functionality we all take for granted in our installed software. It’s a
bunch more than that as well; Web 2.0 encompasses other concepts such as
Software as a Service (SaaS), Web services, and
Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). These are all fancy technologies that
enable an ordinary person – or at least an ordinary programmer person – to
pull together bits of functionality available on the Web to create
So to demonstrate the power of Web 2.0, I invite you to join the Alert SNS
Reader Group. Just select Login to sign up.
- Hang on a Nanosec. Let Me Get That Info: Alert SNS Reader Ken Florian sent along a pointer to Mozy, the latest
entry in the Will This Business Plan
Fly? Sweepstakes. Mozy will remotely back up
20GB of your data for free. But that’s not what caught my eye on their
site. Check out the following list of how long it takes to find
information, based on where it is stored:
Data that lives here...
...will take this long to access
- Somewhere in that pile
of paper on your desk
- 42,000,000,000 nanoseconds
[Ed. Note: Not that quickly on my
(Note that a nanosecond is 1 billionth of a second.)
- Cyber Best Practices: You may remember I wrote in a recent SNS about
what to do if your company is hit by a cyberattack.
Well the FBI coordinator of the local Infragard circulated a great document (1MB PDF)
Practices for Seizing Electronic Evidence. While you may not do
the seizing, knowing what law enforcement will be looking for if you want
them to catch the cybercriminals can really help,
so I’m hosting it on the StratVantage Website. There’s also an oldie but a goodie from 2001 Searching
and Seizing Computers and Obtaining Electronic Evidence in Criminal
Investigations (400KB PDF) in our security area.
- What if it was the “Microsoft iPod”? Alert
SNS Reader Larry Kuhn, a Microsoft employee, sent along this hilarious
YouTube short that envisions the packaging for the iPod
if it were a Microsoft rather than an Apple product. Truly hilarious, and
all too true.
- Windows Can Drink: Obviously on a roll, Alert SNS Reader Larry
Kuhn went on to say, regarding an item in the previous SNS about Windows
turning 21, “At least now when it’s falling down drunk we don’t have to be
ashamed that it’s under the legal drinking age.”
- Free Wireless Everywhere? This issue’s second entry into the Will This Business Plan Fly?
Sweepstakes is M2Z Networks, which has a novel proposal for the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC). If the FCC will just grant M2Z
free wireless bandwidth everywhere, M2Z will provide free 512Kbps wireless
Internet everywhere. And that’s not all! M2Z proposes to kick back 5
percent of their revenues on faster wireless services to the FCC as, you
know, kind of a tip, a little something
for the effort. Now ordinarily I’d be laughing my butt off at such a
proposal. Indeed, most commentators point out that the FCC is in the
business of auctioning wireless bandwidth, not giving it away.
But check out who is behind M2Z: The venture is financed by heavyweight Sili Valley stars Kleiner
Perkins Caufield & Byers, Charles River
Ventures and Redpoint Ventures, and the company
was started by the former head of the FCC's wireless bureau, John Muleta, and cable executive Milo Medin,
who previously created AtHome Networks, one of
the first cable-based data networks. So these guys aren’t crazy. You can
read their 127-page FCC application (PDF) here.
- If You’ve
Made it This Far: I’m beginning to lose faith in the Alert SNS
Reader Nation. So far, no one has stepped up to try to join Alert SNS
Reader Ken Florian, the winner of our first Obscure Reference Contest, and
Alert SNS Reader Derek Dysart, our
second winner. Apparently, the third Obscure Reference Contest is
too hard for even the most accomplished Alert SNS googlesavant.
I find this to be a shame, but I’ll persist in my belief that somewhere
out there an Alert SNS Reader has the gumption, dogged tenacity, and
mastery of arcane rock and roll lore to solve the current puzzle.
I’m looking for the name of the album (and I’ll give you a hint: it’s only
available in vinyl) (hint #2: one of the artists was in the Fugs) that featured an encounter between Johnny Pissoff and a guy with
smooth hands as well as a Grateful Dead jam, and an ode to Captain Beefheart’s shoes. Extra
points for including a link to the MP3 of the J. Pissoff epic.
Because it makes such a cool trophy, the prize is now two sticks of
completely useless memory. So don’t let me down!