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ISP Fights Causing Netflix Packet Drops 289

An anonymous reader writes "We've been hearing more and more reports of ISPs throttling Netflix and other high-bandwidth services lately. The ISPs have denied it, and even Netflix itself seems to believe them. If that's the case, what's going on? Well, according to this article, the blame still lies with the ISPs. While they may not be explicitly throttling connection speeds, they're refusing to upgrade network connections as they demand more money from content distributors. For example, Netflix pays Cogent to distribute their internet traffic. Cogent has an agreement with Verizon to exchange traffic — which works fine until the massive amount of traffic from Netflix makes it a lopsided arrangement. Verizon wants more money from Cogent, and one of their negotiating tactics is simply to stop upgrading their infrastructure so that service degrades. 'There are about 11 Cogent/Verizon peering connections in major cities around the country. When peering partners aren't fighting, they typically upgrade the connections (or "ports") when they're about 50 percent full, Cogent says. ... With Cogent and Verizon fighting, the upgrades are happening at a glacial pace, according to Schaeffer. "Once a port hits about 85 percent throughput, you're going to begin to start to drop packets," he said. "Clearly when a port is at 120 or 130 percent [as the Cogent/Verizon ones are] the packet loss is material."'"
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ISP Fights Causing Netflix Packet Drops

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  • by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:10PM (#46306317) Homepage

    If companies provide network access they should not be be allowed to be a content provider. Too much conflict of interest and they can concentrate on properly managing and not OVERselling their network.

  • by thule ( 9041 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:15PM (#46306363) Homepage
    I've been saying this for ages! Even mentioned this here on slashdot. Peering is peering. They are not degrading performance by configuration, they just let the link get congested. How do any of the proposed net neutrality laws address this issue? Answer is, they don't. To me that means that Net Neutrality laws are about something different than neutrality. More likely with government regulation, it becomes Net Control. With that, increased stiffing and limiting reaction to market dynamics, not improving it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:18PM (#46306387)

    That didn't stop the NSA

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:28PM (#46306495)

    Netflix is breaking the long standing status quo. Last I checked, they accounted for ~30% of ALL of the traffic on the internet. Obviously that is going to skew the metrics, and that is why Netflix is trying to push their own CDN. I do not know the particulars there. IMO, if Netflix expects ISPs to pay for their CDN, they are on drugs.

    Why? A lot of people might only get internet, or faster internet anyway, BECAUSE of netflix.

    If I were not streaming stuff on Netflix I might very well just use a cellular internet connection and not get cable internet at all. Netflix is helping the ISP's make money, and Netflix should gain some benefit from that fact as a result.

  • Re:Can confirm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:35PM (#46306557)
    Why should Verizon expect to have an even in/out ratio? They sell the vast majority of their customers asymmetrical connections.
  • by Shinobi ( 19308 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:47PM (#46306657)

    Yeah, Cogent really is trying every dirty trick they can to go past any contract limits etc and freeload, and then they cry loudly to the media when they get told to stick to the contract.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:56PM (#46306715)

    Yes, they SELL connections to their customers, so the incoming flood of traffic from Cogent has already been paid for by Verizon's customers that are trying to watch their shows on Netflix. Verizon is trying to double-dip. So what if the traffic is asymmetric? If it's that big of a problem, the continued performance problems caused by Verizon's intransigence could be solved by a massive reduction in the customer base once they find that they can't watch Netflix.

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @05:59PM (#46306755)
    Customers PAY for those connections. Verizon's customers are paying to receive traffic from the Internet. Whether that's slashdot or Netflix doesn't matter, it behooves Verizon to deliver the service their customers are PAYING for.
  • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @06:14PM (#46306873)

    Right now Netflix is getting to benefit at the expense of ISPs. [...] My issue here is that Netflix is not a good champion to use to make the case for ISPs being tightfisted when it comes to circuit maintenance.

    If the ISP cannot transfer me the traffic that I am paying them to transfer me, then they need to upgrade their circuits.

    If they legitimately cannot afford to do that, then they need to charge me more money.

    But if they cannot afford to do that, why is their investment news a string of "profits up 40% in 2013, ARPU up 9.4%, 14.7% year over year increase in FIOS revenues, 78c EPS 2013 vs 64c EPS in 2012, ... etc...

    Imagine if your neighbor turned his house / apartment into a concert venue because there were not any ordinances to prevent it. All day long, you could not find a place to park, could not have guests over because they could not park, suffered brown and black outs because the music equipment kept blowing out the local transformers, etc. How would you handle that?

    My neighbor and I both subscribe to Verizon to provide "parking and electricity" in this situation. So if Verizon can't provide
    "parking and electricity" to me per our agreement, because my "neighbor" is using too much, then Verizon needs to build more parking and provide more electricity. If they have to charge me and my neighbors more, so be it... but see above regarding large increases in revenues and profits... it seems Verizon is simply failing to upgrade our electricity and parking and pocketing the money we paid them to do that instead.

  • Re:Can confirm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @06:28PM (#46306981)
    If Cogent is using Verizon for transit, yes, they should pay for that. If the peering is strictly to deliver content to Verizon's customers, that bandwidth is already being paid for by Verizon's customers.

    The only time a payment for straight peering makes any economic sense is if the smaller ISP doesn't generate (either in or out) enough traffic to justify the equipment and maintenance costs of the interconnect. (Anti-competitive reasons are another thing). In the case of Cogent(Netflix)/Verizon, the existing interconnect is obviously saturated, so there's no reasonable excuse for not improving it. Verizon's customers are clearly paying for it, as measured by the amount of traffic they're trying to pull through it. As far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with transit.
  • by NormAtHome ( 99305 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @06:56PM (#46307267)

    I know this topic has been beaten to death here, but I see it the same way you do. Verizon customers pay a toll (their monthly charge for internet access) to use Verizon's connection to the internet as a whole. No Verizon customer should have their data throttled no matter what site they are accessing as long as they are in compliance with Verizon's TOS.

  • by JesseMcDonald ( 536341 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @07:21PM (#46307447) Homepage

    No, because the ISP owns the infrastructure and you're the intended recipient. They're not asking you to deliver packets to someone else on their behalf.

    Logically, everyone should just pay for the packets they send, much like you pay (via stamps) to send an envelope. A company like Netflix would pay to have their content delivered to their customers, and would recoup the cost of "shipping" that content across the Internet in the form of subscription fees. Unfortunately, while that might work for Netflix, it would be problematic for sites serving small amounts of traffic to a large number of visitors—we still lack a practical and widespread means of micropayment.

    Of course, one significant difference between the Internet and the postal service is that the postal service is required to deliver (or return) every envelope they accept—they can't just drop excess mail in the nearest incinerator when they become overloaded. At that, it would still be an improvement over the current Internet model, where not only do you have to pay for packets which were never delivered due to congestion or technical problems, you even have to pay for packets you never requested and had no opportunity to opt out of.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @07:25PM (#46307487) Homepage Journal

    Sure, there is waste in the government and we all hear about it because it's our right to know. Now, how much waste is in privete industry? Ever filled out a form that you know very well will sit unread in a filing cabinet until it composts? That's waste. Ever gotten a credit card offer that you don't even qualify for? What about those crazy rules that turn a simple matter into a debacle?

    Everything on up to a gulfstream for the CEO, all waste.

    But when you look at actual costs for services provided, the government provided service often works out cheaper. That's why private corporations object so strenuously to government providing services even where competition is permitted.

  • Re:Can confirm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @09:38PM (#46308383)

    Why should Verizon expect to have an even in/out ratio? They sell the vast majority of their customers asymmetrical connections.

    You only peer with another provider settlement-free, if the peering arrangement is mutually beneficial. ISPs such as Verizon are in the business of selling connectivity, not giving it away for free. If they are making settlement-free peerings where they don't benefit at least as much as the other party, then they are losing the revenue from selling connectivity, for less than the revenue would be worth in return.

    Since Cogent is pushing much more data than they pull, then the peering relationship is disproportionately beneficial to Cogent.

    Therefore, Cogent must pay more. It's really that simple.

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday February 21, 2014 @10:16PM (#46308645)

    The thing is, private peering doesn't cost you anything.

    No.... the data transferred still uses data capacity.

    Lost revenue. Cogent is using Verizon's free peering to compete against Verizon, by selling the same bandwidth (sustained gigabits of data transfer) to Netflix, that Netflix would have to pay four to five times as much for if they bought an internet connection from Verizon.

    In principle, to protect their revenues: the Tier1's need to ensure that they get paid by the other party connecting to their network for data coming into or leaving their network, that is using up some of their network capacity.

    They either get paid via a transit fee from the party connecting, or by gaining an equivalent amount of usage of the peer's network.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein