How silly is this?

An Op-Ed about net neutrality in last week’s Seattle Times by Avis Yates Rivers makes all the obvious points: solution in search of a problem, treatment worse than the disease, etc., including this one:

Because a network’s bandwidth is a finite resource, the management tools function like traffic lights and yield signs. They seek an orderly way to allow heavy P2P-like traffic to flow without interfering with other users. At peak times, these tools send a signal to a high-bandwidth user that they will find the requested content when a lane opens on the information highway.

But wonders never cease, and David Isenberg found it wrong and offensive:

So mostly Yates Rivers is wrong when she says that bandwidth is finite. Where it is finite, the blame lies at the feet of the telcos . . . well, not really, they wouldn’t be so stupid as to build such abundance that they have nothing to sell anymore. The blame lies with our limited vision — we have affordable, mature technology that would make bandwidth scarcity as obsolete as horsepower from horses.

Can Isenberg really be this stupid? He worked for Bell Labs for 12 years, presumably doing something more technical than sweeping floors, but he still makes bonehead statements like this. I can only conclude that he’s lying deliberately.

Yes, Virginia, bandwidth is finite and it always will be. Even when we have gigabit access connections, we’re still counting on everybody not using theirs full-tilt at the same time. For every consumer of data there’s a producer, and for every pair of consumer/producers there’s a carrier, and every link has its limit. Beef up the core, and the access network becomes a bottleneck. Beef up the access network and the core becomes a bottleneck. That’s life.

Internet Fairness, or Not

My latest piece for The Register is up: Dismantling a Religion: The EFF’s Faith-Based Internet. In it, I explore the difference between the way the EFF wants to manage the Internet and the new way the IETF folks are discussing.

Bottom line: the Internet has never had a user-based fairness system, and it needs one. All networks need one, actually.

On that note, the TCP-Friendly folks remind us:

The network will soon begin to require applications to perform congestion control, and those applications which do not perform congestion control will be harshly penalized by the network (probably in the form of preferentially dropping their packets during times of congestion).

An actively-managed Internet is a functional Internet.

My First Baseball Game

Thanks to Retrosheet, I can identify the first major league baseball game I ever saw in person, an epic 4-3 victory by the Yankees over the Senators on July 3, 1959. Winning pitcher Whitey Ford scored the winning run, Ryne Duren got the save, Mickey Mantle hit a single and Tony Kubek went 3-5 playing RF for some weird reason. I had remembered it as a 3-2 game, but was otherwise pretty accurate in my story-telling about it.

Faster, More Symmetric Networking

Would you like to have a fat Internet connection to your home? If we can agree that 100 Mb/s in both directions would qualify as “fat”. you should be able to have your way in a year or two, three at the most. Here’s a quick survey of the alternatives.

First. we have a clue as to why Comcast still uses relatively pokey DOCSIS 1.1: it’s skipping the faster and more symmetric DOCSIS 2.0 and going straight to the nirvana of even faster connections with DOCSIS 3.0:

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) plans to have a Docsis 3.0 infrastructure in place in about 20 percent of its footprint by the end of 2008, teeing up cable modem services capable of delivering shared Internet speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s.

The nation’s largest MSO will be 3.0-capable in one-in-five homes by the end of next year, according to Comcast Chief Technology Officer Tony Werner, the keynoter here Wednesday morning at the first CableNEXT conference.

(H/T Engadget)

This should make them competitive with FTTH for a good while, but not forever:

While we’ve seen all sorts of blazing feats over fiber here lately, it’s not often that such wide open bandwidth gets piped directly to a home, but a 75-year old Swede recently changed all that when she had a 40Gbps connection installed in her domicile.

She can download a DVD in two seconds.

Closer to home, Verizon is going faster and more symmetric with FiOS:

With the help of the symmetrical services, users can benefit from equally fast downstream and upstream connections of up to 15 megabits per second (Mbps) or up to 20 Mbps, based on the state where the service is sold.

DSL over copper isn’t sitting still either:

University of Melbourne research fellow Dr John Papandriopoulos is in the throes of moving to Silicon Valley after developing an algorithm to reduce the electromagnetic interference that slows down ADSL connections.

Most ADSL services around the world are effectively limited to speeds between 1 to 20Mbps, but if Dr Papandriopoulos’s technology is successfully commercialised that speed ceiling would be closer to 100Mbps.

Papandriopoulos is joining ASSIA, a company founded by DSL inventor John Cioffi (and named after his wife and EVP.) ASSIA currently develops tools, but I suspect that will change. (Assia, on the other hand, is an aesthete.)

And wireless is on the move as well. Corporate products conforming to the new ~100 Mb/s (real speed) 802.11n standard are starting to roll out in trials, 4G cellular network deployments are starting, and UWB for the home is available at multi-hundred megabit/sec rates.

One has the feeling that the residential network regulators are already fighting yesterday’s war, and that the network pessimists have no basis for their fears.