It's Not Magic
Writings of a techie wizard
 
Category: opinions
Thu, 17 Jul 2014

The latest round of the Netflix-Verizon tiff that I recently blogged about has now appeared in a post by Verizon and a response from Level 3. First, Verizon purports to describe the problem and its solution:

Even though there is no congestion on our network, we're not satisfied if our customers are not. We fully understand that many of our customers want a great streaming experience with Netflix, and we want that too. Therefore, we are working aggressively with Netflix to establish new, direct connections from Netflix to Verizon's network.

Which sounds good, but now look at Level 3's response explaining what would actually be needed to fix the problem:

[W]e could fix this congestion in about five minutes simply by connecting up more 10Gbps ports on those routers. Simple. Something we've been asking Verizon to do for many, many months, and something other providers regularly do in similar circumstances. But Verizon has refused. So Verizon, not Level 3 or Netflix, causes the congestion. Why is that? Maybe they can’t afford a new port card because they've run out - even though these cards are very cheap, just a few thousand dollars for each 10 Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more. If that's the case, we’ll buy one for them. Maybe they can't afford the small piece of cable between our two ports. If that's the case, we'll provide it. Heck, we'll even install it.

In other words, Verizon wants Netflix to make a huge investment in a "direct connection" between the two networks, when all that's really needed is a few port cards and cables, the cost of which wouldn't even amount to rounding error in Verizon's accounting (and as you can see, they wouldn't even have to spend that since Level 3 has offered to cover all the costs).

But that seems daft: Verizon customers are having a serious problem that has a simple fix, yet Verizon refuses to allow that fix. What could Verizon possibly be thinking? Here's Level 3's answer to that:

This congestion only takes place between Verizon and network providers chosen by Netflix. The providers that Netflix does not use do not experience the same problem. Why is that? Could it be that Verizon does not want its customers to actually use the higher-speed services it sells to them? Could it be that Verizon wants to extract a pound of flesh from its competitors, using the monopoly it has over the only connection to its end-users to raise its competitors' costs?

If you're wondering how Netflix and Verizon are competitors, see here.

It's worth noting that Verizon's talk about "direct connection" leaves me wondering exactly what the Netflix-Verizon deal I referred to in my previous post was supposed to accomplish, since the whole point of that deal was supposed to be giving Netflix a direct connection to Verizon's network, similar to the deal it made with Comcast. But if that were really the case, Level 3, which is a transit provider, would not even come into the picture. It's possible that, as Ars Technica notes, Verizon is simply taking time to implement the direct connections that their deal with Netflix makes possible, and until that implementation is complete, at least a part of Netflix traffic to Verizon customers goes via Level 3. But Verizon's post, quoted above, certainly seems to imply that "direct connection" is an alternative to what Netflix is doing now, not something Netflix has already paid Verizon for but Verizon has not finished implementing yet. Either way, this confusion certainly doesn't help Verizon's credibility.

I'll leave you with this statement in Verizon's post, which is particularly ironic in view of all the above:

Verizon is focused on providing its customers with the best Internet experience possible.

As long as you don't try to experience Verizon's competitors, apparently.

Posted at 23:12   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
Thu, 05 Jun 2014

In an entirely predictable development, at least if you've been keeping up with my previous posts on net neutrality, Netflix is now having a tiff with Verizon over slow delivery of Netflix content to customers.

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Posted at 23:26   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
Mon, 05 May 2014

If you've read my previous post and are still wondering, even after the Postscript, whether I was really being fair, you may be interested in this from Level 3, another major Internet transit provider like Cogent, which I mentioned in my last post. It should come as no surprise that they are also having problems with major broadband providers.

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Posted at 21:43   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
Tue, 29 Apr 2014

In the wake of the Federal Court ruling in January that struck down key portions of the FCC's Net Neutrality regulations, it looks like the agency is now considering allowing ISPs to have a "fast lane" for preferred traffic, which means traffic that content providers are willing to pay the ISP extra for carrying. Needless to say, the content providers, such as Netflix, are not in favor of this. And also needless to say, ISPs like Comcast are hastening to assure us that these aren't the droids we're looking for. (Notice that the Netflix article is full of technical details, while the Comcast post is just corporate doublespeak--not to mention that the boilerplate disclaimers are more than twice the length of the actual post.)

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Posted at 23:14   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers, politics   |   Permalink
Mon, 28 Apr 2014

Some time back I made a proposal for campaign finance reform. Now I find that Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed a constitutional amendment that is identical to my proposal. I don't know if Sanders reads this blog, but however he got the idea, I'm for it.

Posted at 17:18   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: politics   |   Permalink
Fri, 25 Oct 2013

A while back, I advised climate change alarmists to get off the soapbox. Now it appears that I have to extend that advice to scientists more generally.

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Posted at 21:38   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: politics, science   |   Permalink
Fri, 13 Sep 2013

This news is several years old now, but I just came across the article today and I can't resist a brief comment.

The good news: videos of Richard Feynman giving his famous lectures on physics at Caltech in 1964 are available online, thanks to Bill Gates.

The bad news: if you think this means that a wonderful resource for learning about science is now open and accessible to everyone, think again. From the article:

Note you will need to download Microsoft's Silverlight to get around the site.

You can take the boy out of Microsoft, but you can't take Microsoft out of the boy.

Posted at 11:47   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers, science   |   Permalink
Sun, 01 Sep 2013

A recent article (via Reuters, via Hacker News) says that the US Congress should spend more time working and less time vacationing. I could go on and on about what Congress actually does when it is working, but that would go in the rants section of this blog. Here I just want to comment on one particular thing that struck me about the article.

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Posted at 19:04   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: politics   |   Permalink
Mon, 12 Aug 2013

(Note: there is a discussion of this post on Hacker News.)

I posted some time back that one drawback of the "cloud" is that you can't control how data you post to a "cloud" service is used. Facebook has now provided us with an even better example than the case (Instagram) I talked about in that post.

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Posted at 19:56   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
Fri, 09 Aug 2013

A while back I blogged about the Linux kernel site (not) being cracked. That is, someone had indeed cracked the server, but had not been able to do any damage because all of the files stored there were cryptographically signed in a way that could not be forged. Strictly speaking, that was not a story about how Linux itself is more secure than other operating systems; but the fact that the Linux kernel developers took such precautions certainly indicates a mindset towards security that is different from that of certain other operating systems.

Yesterday ZDNet reported on some more direct evidence of Linux's security as an operating system, not just the security of its kernel repository.

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Posted at 22:01   |   Category: opinions   |   Tags: computers   |   Permalink
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