Hi-speed Global Bandwidth (BW) has been held by some as the elixir that lifts all spirits and levels all playing fields. As if a monolithic monster, it has also been maligned as the toll gate for the darkest parts of our society. Of course, entire nations, like India, have lifted more people up from poverty because of the Internet than any imaginable aid package. If controlling it is vital to the well being of all people’s, of the world, who should be in charge and what should be the mechanisms?
In order to frame the question properly for our community, we have been looking at the future of DPI Internet traffic control technologies, and, among other companies, Liepsig Germany’s ipoque software. Their leader Klaus Mochalski gives us his take on how their DPI engine … "ipoque’s PRX Traffic Manager allows organizations to effectively monitor, shape, optimize, limit and control bandwidth-demanding applications; these include hard-to-detect protocols such as peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P), instant messaging (IM), Voice over IP (VoIP), tunneling and video/media streaming, as well as many legacy applications." Ipoque’s value – "ipoque can offer more powerful DPI than competitive solutions – going up to 75 Gbit/s."
Mochalski tells us that "common claims are that DPI reads the content of all packets and then decides based on the nature of the content whether to forward, slow down or drop that packet. the reason for this ‘misconception’ is "poor understanding how today’s DPI for Internet traffic management works." DPI, at this level, simply identifies applications and then follows the "bandwidth management rules" and he offers some possibilities for those:
- higher or lower priority relative to other traffic
- bandwidth guarantees
- bandwidth limits
- volume caps
According to Klaus, "decisions are never made based on content, but based on the application protocol" and when asked how this effects the bandwidth playing field, "if we talk about net neutrality, we need to differentiate between neutrality toward content and neutrality toward application protocols. While content neutrality remains entirely unaffected by DPI bandwidth management, there is indeed an effect on protocol neutrality because in can very well happen that a packet carrying voice data of an Internet telephony session gets preferential treatment over a file sharing packet." Mochalski hasn’t responded yet to our question on his blog, "Should companies acknowledge bandwidth management policy to an organization, such as the FCC here in the states?"
That surely is not his job, and I doubt if there is a win in the answer. We’d just love to understand more about what is going on under the hood. We know government agencies, corporate behemoths, and surly hackers, get a lot more access than they are likely to reveal. Will governments see this the same way? Will we need penalties and will they need to be overtly delineated for anyone breaking any law? If governments intend to prosecute across borders, there needs to be some light shed on the way policy is decided and implemented. If bandwidth is dealt with the same way as SPAM was dealt with, by our leaders, we are in deep trouble. Most of these companies seem to be on sure footing nowadays and have a business plan that offers value and a stable market performance. Yet there are guys out there who may not be as determined to operate above board.
To the rescue, here we find, "dPacket.org is a San Francisco Bay Area based nonprofit corporation founded for education and scientific purposes to foster and support community interest and progress in deep packet inspection (DPI). Our mission is to be the premier global resource for information and collaboration on DPI related topics." There doesn’t seem to be much discussion on the topics of interest to us, but we will permeate their skin osmotically if necessary to find out how and why BW is being treated the way it is.
We’re also tracking bandwidth prices for businesses and for enterprises. It appears the US market is 10x the cost with far slower delivery. Wireless demand has been an "excuse" offered but we wondered how DPI was effecting cost structures and if you had any clues for why we are putting US businesses at risk by jacking up bandwidth, the 21 Century commodity? We will pursue these questions with the mentioned authorities and report back to you. Let us know if we’ve missed your question.
And speaking of trouble, my personal default BW provider, and telecom-giant wannabe, Comcast should have learned some lessons from their network throttling of bittorrent, which did more for promoting Network Neutrality and driving DPI technology sales than any demand generation we’ve seen the last ten years. Yet today, primed to become a "new" network content provider, instead of a lowly old telecom, Comcast is telling folks it’s none of their business what they throttle or what they provide. Enter Julius Genachowski a former Harvard law classmate of Obama’s – techie, former venture capitalist – to head the Federal Communications Commission. It will be very interesting to watch Genachowski parry Comcast’s momentum and it will be a statement to the old network guards as I’m sure they will be getting bail out money soon. Stay tuned on this one.
Back in the states, via Sweden’s addition to DPI, and Procera Networks’ Jon Linden addressed the topic "Lessons Learnt: The Do’s and Don’ts of Bandwidth Control". And he tells us "I see two categories: what works and what ‘s ethical. The latter is more challenging with today’s fast moving social media where bad news travels fast and subscribers vote with their feet." Bandwidth, like cloud computing applications such as CRM, are portable essentially. There are no deep hooks, and, unlike the Hotel California, you get to leave any time you want.
Jon Linden Vice President of Global Marketing has made me a fan, for now anyway, when he admits, that "operators in London confirmed that non-transparency came back to bite them. You must be able to defend what you’re doing, and a good test is if you’d accept it yourself. Greed is not an acceptable reason, though a viable business case normally is." I wonder if it will be a movie with Gordon Gecko?
We’re looking for practical renditions of this story as we know they are being played out around the world. We want to learn how markets treat BW and how business is offered access to the most expensive and most lacking of all commodities to operate and grow the economy. Stay tuned for stories and don’t let your preference for anonymity keep you away.