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More Bandwidth is the Solution for Net Neutrality (and QoS)

I was reading the June issue of VON Magazine when I ran across David S. Isenberg’s article on the back page. He quoted tesimony of Gary R. Bachula, Vice President of Internet2, that was given before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in February 2006 on the subject of Net Neutrality. Now Gary has to be a smart guy–much smarter than I am, and he comes to the conclusion that, at least for practical reasons, Internet Service Providers would be better served by adding more bandwidth instead of attempting to ration it.

Anyway, I found Bachula’s testimony quite an interesting read. You can read the PDF here for the full details. I think the following bit summarizes his experience–experience we would be wise to follow.

Be are aware that some providers argue against net neutrality, saying that they must give priority to certain kinds of Internet bits, such as video, in order to assure a high quality experience for their customer. Others argue that they want to use such discrimination among bits as a basis for a business model. Let me tell you about our experience at Internet.

When we first began to deploy our Abilene network, our engineers started with the assumption that we should find technical ways of prioritizing certain kinds of bits, such as streaming video, or video conferencing, in order to assure that they arrive without delay. For a number of years, we seriously explored various “quality of service” schemes, including having our engineers convene a Quality of Service Working Group. As it developed, though, all of our research and practical experience supported the conclusion that it was far more cost effective to simply provide more bandwidth. With enough bandwidth in the network, there is no congestion and video bits do not need preferential treatment. All of the bits arrive fast enough, even if intermingled.

Today our Abilene network does not give preferential treatment to anyone’s bits, but our users routinely experiment with streaming HDTV, hold thousands of high quality two-way video conferences simultaneously, and transfer huge files of scientific data around the globe without loss of packets.

We would argue that rather than introduce additional complexity into the network fabric, and additional costs to implement these prioritizing techniques, the telecom providers should focus on providing Americans with an abundance of bandwidth – and the quality problems will take
care of themselves.

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