Posts tagged "qos"

Net neutrality and traffic shaping

Net neutrality is an important feature of the Internet, but it is at risk. Net neutrality means that Internet service provides must not discriminate and must transport all traffic with same priority and quality. ISPs would like to be able to discriminate because this opens new profit sources for ISPs. For example, they can start asking various Internet services to pay them, or their traffic will have lower priority than some other competing web service.

Profit is not the only reason why would somebody like to discriminate traffic on the Internet. One more reasonable reason is that sometimes to assure good quality of service, it is better for ISP to prioritize, for example, latency sensitive VoIP protocol over bulk download of the movie. This means that you can still use high quality voice communication over the Internet, while at the same time consume your whole link for movie download.

But one can look at the issue from the other perspective as well. The issue of net neutrality is the issue of a power relation. Because ISP has power to decide on the traffic shaping policy, this power can be misused or at least used against end-user’s wishes. The solution is thus simple. End-user ought to be the one deciding on priorities of their traffic. ISPs ought to provide a protocol through which end-user can request how ISP ought to shape incoming traffic (outgoing traffic end-user can shape by themself). ISP can provide a default (high priority for VoIP), but end-user should be able to change those rules and add their own rules. If traffic shaping is done with the consent of the user then this is not discrimination anymore. But a feature, and it still serves the purpose of higher quality of service for the end-user and better user experience with ISP’s service.