We need to review ISP speed adverts

Written by on June 30, 2015 in Guest Blog with 1 Comment

Slow shutter, racing jockeys and horsesI’ve always thought the Internet Service Provider business is unique.  In particular with regards to advertised speeds.  There has been much talk lately about ISP throttling data bandwidth or transparency with regards to network traffic management practices.  The fact is the advertised speeds are never a guaranteed rate, in fact quite the opposite.  When an ISP advertises a speed of say 100Mbs – what they actually mean is that you will get any speed up to 100Mbs – not a guarantee, not a minimum, in fact is really the maximum speed.  Maybe the industry should rejig the way the advertise speed, state that they are the maximum and problem solved?

I agree that it would be kind of a tough sell.  Buy a 100Mbs line and we’ll make sure you get somewhere between 0Mbs to 100Mbs.  This would probably create more problems than it would solve.

There has also been renewed discussion as to whether CDNs are anti or pro Net Neutrality.  Techdirt seems to think they don’t rather emphatically – Can We Kill This Ridiculous Shill-Spread Myth That CDNs Violate Net Neutrality? They Don’t.  Got to love the title!

There are plenty of people out there who think that ISPs should be a utility, just like the water or electricity services – so let’s abuse that notion for a minute.  ISPs deliver Internet access to your house, business, phone, tablet, etc…  similar to water or electricity, but that pretty much where the similarities stop.  The gas company knows what it is delivering (single product) and how much delivered each month.

If anything the ISP is more similar to the Mail service.  The mail service carries letters, parcels, boxed, etc..  letter or parcel.  They have some control over their own offices, systems, planes, trains, trucks, etc.. but they do not control everything – weather for example.  They don’t know what the products are they deliver nor do they know when some will bring them a letter to deliver.  ISPs in most cases control the last mile and a little beyond that.  There are many things that are beyond their control and this is great exacerbated when we move the discussion to wireless.  All of these things occur in a Neutral Network.

There have always been contention ratios on service provider networks.  Most ISPs will engineer their networks for peak rates.  Drastically over-engineering a network would just be a bad business decision, not one that any sane investor is likely to back.  The farthest alternative is to build a personal network for every person on the planet to everywhere else – a little cost prohibitive.

Mail service aside, this is a rather complex issue for non-technical people to grasp.  It is made worse by OTT companies like Netflix who name and shame operators (here) that aren’t able to deliver their product as efficiently as others.  There is a lot of misinformation and scaremongering on this issue.  A little more cooperation between those that have something to deliver and those that do the delivering would go a long way to sorting this out.

More Here [InfoWorld]

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About the Author

About the Author: Jonathon has been lurking around the Telecoms and Internet space for the last 20 years. He is now a man on a mission – that being the reformation of the Industry Analyst business. He is working with his co-conspirators on transforming the Industry Analyst world forever as an Expert with EMI. .


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  1. Alice Bartram says:

    Enjoyed the article! Wanted to let you know that a new industry forum/organization has been created with the goal you describe – create more cooperation between all the players. You might want to check out http://www.streamingvideoalliance.org/

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