What does loss of net neutrality mean for volunteer computing?


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Eric KorpelaProject donor
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Message 1538832 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 0:56:57 UTC
Last modified: 10 Jul 2014, 20:28:22 UTC

What does loss of net neutrality mean for volunteer computing? Quite possibly the end.

In the early days of the "public access" Internet, both organizations and end users paid Internet service providers (ISPs) for access to the Internet, the entire Internet. Those ISPs, in turn, paid for access to the Internet backbones, or made "peering agreements" with backbone access providers. Those peering agreements essentially said "If you carry my traffic without prejudice, I'll carry yours." It worked pretty well. To some extent it was self policing. If one provider violated peering agreements, their peers would disconnect them until they saw the error of their ways.

Those days are over, replaced by the days of the monopoly broadband providers. Most people in the United States only have access to one broadband provider. And the large broadband providers each cover a large fraction of the market. Comcast has been declaring for years that they would like to charge companies for access to their customers. In October of last year, Comcast and Verizon began throttling traffic from Netflix to their customers by 50% or more. These customers had paid Comcast and Verizon for access to the entire Internet, including Netflix.

In the old Internet, this would have been a violation of any peering agreements that Comcast and Verizon were a party to, and both would have disappeared from the net for a while. In the new world, they were successful in extorting money out of Netflix. Why? Because the customers of the ISPs that peer with Comcast and Verizon didn't want to lose access to Comcast and Verizon customers. Comcast and Verizon have a license to do what they want now. Comcast and Verizon customers were furious. But most don't have another choice except dial-up.

The existence of volunteer computing is predecated on a open Internet where ISPs cannot extort money out of other organizations for access to their users. In a neutral Internet, users decide what content they want, not the ISP. Apparently nobody remembers what it was like in the pre-Internet days of Compuserve and the Source and AOL. Charge by the page for things that are now free. Charge by the minute for access at all. $25 for a copy of an SEC filing for a company.

Will ISPs be approaching us demanding payment? I don't know. We don't have any money to give them.

What can be done? The easiest route would be for the FCC to declare that Internet service providers are common carriers that cannot discriminate based on content, sender, or recipient. That doesn't mean they can't have tiered plans and can't change their rates. This change will not stifle innovation (apart from preventing innovative means of extortion) as we've had net neutrality until now. Will it happen? The FCC chair was the head of the National Cable Television Association and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, and so he sides with the large ISPs.

But you can comment on the FCC's proposal to allow ISPs to charge people who aren't their customers for "Fast Lane" access (which really means everyone else gets the really slow lane). Go to http://fcc.gov/comments and comment on FCC Dockets 14-28 and 10-127. Comments are accepted until July 15th.

I suggest a comment like the following:

The proposal to abandon Net Neutrality on the internet in favor of a multi-tiered content-biased system is deeply flawed. It would:

1. create a system that inhibits technical innovation by allowing ISPs to choose which technologies their customers can access.
2. create a system that protects entrenched companies while penalizing the start-ups that have been the life blood of the internet.
3. limit access of non-profit organizations that cannot afford "fast-lane" fees.
4. penalize media companies that do not directly own cable or satellite access to consumers.

The Internet has flourished under the de facto common carrier ISPs held until recently. It is time for the FCC to declare that ISPs are Common Carriers and hold them to that status.


Edit: The FCC web site no longer shows a link to the comments page. It is here
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Message 1538884 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 3:32:23 UTC - in response to Message 1538832.

Something like this was bound to happen. In a way the movie "Tron" was about such an occurrence.

Several states want to tax internet traffic or at least internet commerce. In their eyes they see they are losing billions of dollars of tax revenue and they don't see the overall benefit of internet communication and commerce to the entire populace.
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Message 1538885 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 3:38:09 UTC

I have filed my "complaints" at both 14-28 and 10-127.

I added:

"Distributed computing projects held at universities accross the nation would be penalized without net neutrality. I contribute to several such projects; the greatest of which is SETI@home. While SETI@home is run by staff at UC Berkeley, the project itself is distributed world wide. It is a non-profit orginization that allows users to contribute from around the world to utilize individual computers to analyze data; then upload the results back to the SETI@home staff at UC Berkeley. Other distributed computing projects that would be adversely affected by the loss of net neutrality include those that study diseases to find cures for malaria, AIDS, and more. Study of the stars via Einstein@Home would most likely be lost if net neutrality is not maintained in its current form.

Please keep net neutrality just the way it is."


I hope that together we can stop the nonsense.
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Message 1538909 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 4:33:36 UTC

The net should remained neutral but if this passes it will effect streaming video the most. Distributed computing not so much if at all. Distributed computing uses massive amounts of computing power but relatively little bandwidth. A 13 minute video in 720p uses 150 mega bytes. If I recall correctly an AP WU is 2 mega bytes down to me and much less back to SETI. An AP WU doesn't need full bandwidth, it can wait a second without harm unlike a video where a one second pause runes the user experience.

The Bell System was a common carrier but the people wanted competition. Be careful what you ask for you just may get it.
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Message 1538915 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 5:02:37 UTC

Pour la communauté française qui souhaite en savoir davantage au sujet de la perte de neutralité du Net, quelques articles récents :
Le principe de neutralité du Net adopté au Parlement européen
Neutralité du Net : les FAI vont-ils gagner la partie aux Etats-Unis ?
Neutralité du Net : la FCC bridée par un hébergeur
Neutralité du Net : la FCC américaine adopte les "voies rapides"
Neutralité du Net : une perte de temps, selon un ex-commissaire de la FCC
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Message 1538921 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 5:19:45 UTC - in response to Message 1538832.
Last modified: 10 Jul 2014, 6:02:18 UTC

What does loss of net neutrality mean for volunteer computing? Quite possibly the end.

SETI@home is the scientific experiment that most excites the imagination of people worldwide.

Eric, is there any thing more people worldwide can do ?

Best Wishes
Byron

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Message 1538990 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 7:13:10 UTC - in response to Message 1538832.
Last modified: 10 Jul 2014, 7:13:53 UTC

I wish as Canadian, I was able to respond to both orders put forth by the FCC. Unfortunetly, I cannot. The sad part is, the outcome will affect me and I do not have a say.

Best,

Daniel O'Connor

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Message 1538992 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 7:15:42 UTC

I was interested to read Eric Korpela's comment.... "Most people in the United States only have access to one broadband provider". I always thought the US like the UK was a land of competition and survival of the fittest!
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Message 1539017 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 8:23:39 UTC - in response to Message 1538909.

The net should remained neutral but if this passes it will effect streaming video the most. Distributed computing not so much if at all.

It's not about bandwidth- it's about being able to even access web sites.
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Message 1539018 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 8:25:34 UTC - in response to Message 1538992.

I always thought the US like the UK was a land of competition and survival of the fittest!

It is, and the biggies have bought up all the smaller players until there are several large players, that are effectively monopolies in their region as each of them operate in different parts of the country.
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Message 1539024 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 8:32:40 UTC

It's such a shame that monopolies can ruin society through their own greed. Government is failing if it cannot put a check on these companies.
I hope that the US Government takes this seriously and looks into this threat to scientific communities and research projects online. Perhaps a monopolies commission should take a good long hard look at the ISPs mentioned. In this day and age, consumers should be able to have the choice of a multitude of ISPs so they can pay for the service that meets their consumer and ethical standards, and not be forced to use one company who does not meet their standards.

Unfortunately, if this goes ahead and net neutrality is lost, most scientific projects and distributed computing will be forced to rely on Europe/Australasia/etc. This would be a great loss, as a large percentage of the internet is based in the USA and a large proportion of computing power will be lost with it.
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Message 1539026 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 8:39:22 UTC - in response to Message 1538832.

I tried to comment on their site and it seems to be broken at the moment and will try again.

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Message 1539045 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 9:16:30 UTC

This is something that has already been decided in Canada. We went Net Neutrality.

Regards

John G

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Message 1539069 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 10:14:54 UTC

Thanx for the heads up Eric.
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Message 1539070 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 10:17:13 UTC - in response to Message 1539018.

I always thought the US like the UK was a land of competition and survival of the fittest!

It is, and the biggies have bought up all the smaller players until there are several large players, that are effectively monopolies in their region as each of them operate in different parts of the country.

Greetings,

And that's not all of it. In my area (Mid West U.S.) the one and only broadband ISP made a deal with our city to keep competition out. We have ONE choice for broadband. :( When I lived in San Diego, CA we had several choices for broadband. :)

Keep on BOINCing...! :)
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Message 1539076 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 11:10:19 UTC
Last modified: 10 Jul 2014, 11:11:23 UTC

In the UK British Telecom runs the UK internet backbone on behalf of the country and the government. Due to local loop unbundling overseen by Ofcom, BT lost it's monopoly and have to allow various ISP's to put their equipment in BT's exchanges. Also most major cities and towns have now been "passed" (damn silly term) by the Cable TV companies. In addition the public utilities of water, gas, and electricity now offer internet access. There is lots of choices, but the UK is smaller than some US states so it is different here.

I think Eric is quite right to raise this issue, but it is as much a political one as a technical one. I don't think it will prove to be the death knell of public distributed computing, but it could make it more difficult and expensive to participate in future.

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Message 1539082 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 12:17:10 UTC - in response to Message 1538832.

This is nothing but GREED and lawful BLACKMAIL if aloud to go through and the end of ALL ISP's, computer sale and some computer manufacturers will suffer loss of revenue or closure with some ISP's having idle equipment due to lack of customers. THIS IS PURE GREED AND NOTHING MORE IT WILL NOT IMPROVE OR EXPAND THE SERVICE ONLY CHOKE IT UNTIL IT DIES.
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Message 1539090 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 12:47:28 UTC

Where do I send my comments?? I saw only 2 Bill numbers, or at least they looked like it! Lee Robinson W. Palm Beach.
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Message 1539092 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 12:52:54 UTC - in response to Message 1538990.

Dan, you CAN reply! Freedom of speech is still in vogue here, and you can let them know how you feel about their effect on YOU!! Lee Robinson
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Message 1539094 - Posted: 10 Jul 2014, 12:57:38 UTC - in response to Message 1539092.

You can also write to EVERY member of the American Congress on any topic that will affect you as a Canadian!! GO GET-EM, CANADIANS!!! Lee Robinson
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