Recently in Network neutrality Category

Ars Technica Reports: Data caps a "crude and unfair tool" for easing online congestion: "Internet providers argue that they need to impose monthly data caps on their users in order to slay the "bandwidth hogs" running wild and free through their networks, goring ordinary users with their tusks when all those users want to do is view some funny cat pictures online after a tough day at the office. The idea is that a monthly quota can reduce the amount of network congestion during peak hours throughout the month. Fact or fiction?"

This is like limiting car ownership to reduce congestion, or imposing a gas tax. Sure it works in the crudest sense, but it is an atomic bomb where a precision bullet (congestion pricing or peak period quotas) would do.

The Undeath of Distance

Remember all that talk about the "Death of Distance". Well it turns out even in the supposedly distance-free internet wholesale market, distance still matters and is being suggested as a price differentiator. Connected Planet writes about: The return of distance-based pricing (for wholesale ISPs)? :

"Using just three or four service tiers could improve a wholesale ISP’s profit substantially, the researchers argue in a paper to be presented at the SIGCOMM conference in Toronto today.

The paper titled “How Many Tiers? Pricing in the Internet Transit Market” is based on data collected using a model developed by the research team. The researchers say their creation is the first economic model that takes real traffic data as an input to understand the impact of tiered, destination-based pricing on an ISP’s profit."

Obviously market differentiation and stratification is important, with more differentiators allowing producers to capture more value (and consumers less). And obviously the number of links that are traversed is associated with the underlying cost of infrastructure. The only question is whether the increased transaction costs outweigh the profits.

From ReadWriteWeb NY Transportation Authority Cites Schedules as Copyrighted Material

The NY MTA is trying to take-down an iPhone application that delivers train schedules. Another example of appalling over-reach on copyright. Presumably they will lose if this goes to court, buy why do they even bother?

All transit schedules (and traffic counts, and traffic signal timings, and any other transportation data you can imagine) should be free, open, and in a standard, documented, machine-readable format.

TCP Congestion

Via Slashdot: Fixing the unfairness of TCP congestion control

A nice article on the logic behind traffic management on the internet. If only we transportation engineers could simply drop packets (analogous to a helicopter vaporizing cars that were in queue?) The problem of course is that bandwidth use is not charged at marginal cost when it is in the congesting region, leading to overconsumption. The issue is the transaction costs associated with implementing a charging regime.

I recently finished an essay/paper on Network Neutrality.

The politically-charged notion of network neutrality came to the fore in 2005 and 2006, using analogy from transportation as one of the key tools in motivating arguments. This paper examines how the various notions around network neutrality (common carriage, regulation, price discrimination) have played out in the transportation sector, and suggests many of the current arguments fail to understand the nuances of how complex networks actually operate to serve the many demands placed on them.

The full document can be downloaded here

UPDATE:
It has been published
Levinson, David (2009) Network Neutrality: Lessons from Transportation. Review of Network Economics 8(1) 13-21 [DOWNLOAD]

There has been a lot of discussion about "network neutrality" as being a core property of internet service. This discussion includes a number of inter-related concepts, which not every advocate agrees to. In particular, the wikipedia article on the subject identifies:

"* Non-discrimination means that all traffic over the network (typically or exclusively digital packets or bits) is treated the same by the network, including the traffic originating with the network operator. This principle of 'bit parity' means that all bits are treated as 'just bits', and no bit traffic is prioritized over other bits, and none is hampered or disabled.

* Interconnection means that network operators have both a duty of interconnection and a right of interconnection to any other network operator. Networks must be constructed so that there are a reasonable number of accessible interconnect points; that traffic is carried to and from rival networks at reasonable rates; and that the network is built with sufficient excess capacity to accomodate the reasonably foreseeable traffic that may be presented at the head-ends or peering points. Without a right of interconnection, there is no network.

* Access means that any end user can connect to any other end-user. End users may be people, but the term could also mean devices (modems, routers, switches) or even other networks. Access means that a piece of content, say, an email message, has a right to enter the network, and if properly addressed, be received by the other end user, even if said user is on another network. In other words, traffic can begin at any point on the network and be delivered to any other point."

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

Place and Plexus

The Transportation Experience

Access to Destinations

Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

Financing Transportation Networks

View David Levinson's profile on LinkedIn

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