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  (Source: PC Magazine)
Competing companies decide to collaborate on network issues

An unprecedented agreement announced Wednesday will see competitors Comcast and Vonage working together to develop Comcast’s vaunted “network agnostic” management techniques and improve customer service.

Both companies sell local- and long-distance telephone service. Comcast, through its nationwide infrastructure originally laid out for cable TV and internet, competes with Vonage, which sells VOIP service that works over other carriers’ internet backbone.

The agreement primarily consists of an increased level of communication between both companies’ support networks, so that problems on one end, like traffic bottlenecks or line issues, can be quickly resolved on the other.

“This [agreement] is primarily directed towards the principles around how Comcast is going to manage traffic on their network in a way which isn't going to adversely impact Vonage customers' use of the Comcast network,” said Vonage CTO Louis Mamakos in an interview with BetaNews.

Collaboration between the two companies greatly lessens one of Vonage’s biggest bottlenecks: a lack of control over the infrastructure that its service runs on. Vonage relies on minute-by-minute quality of service tracking, and like most VOIP companies there is little it can do to resolve network issues. This agreement gives the company some much-needed leverage, allowing it to do things like call in support through a direct line between the companies’ customer centers.

“By having this relationship with one of the broadband ISPs, when I give them a call and say, 'Hi, this is Vonage, we think we're seeing something weird,' I'm not just some crank calling them on the phone. We have this working relationship,” said Mamakos.

While one might consider such a collaboration agreement to be one-sided, Mamakos says that it grants his team the ability to see metrics necessary to better handle its own network. If a traffic peering point is backed up, for example, Vonage can quickly buy additional bandwidth somewhere else, allowing its software to quickly route around the problem.

Vonage will also assist Comcast in developing its “network agnostic” management techniques, which the company announced earlier this year in response to the “traffic discrimination” scandal it fell into last year. The company previously announced plans to draw up a “P2P Bill of Rights” with P2P content-delivery firm Pando Networks.

“As a larger issue, I think this is a statement that two competitors, at least in the telephony space, have publicly said, ‘We can coexist, we can each go to market with our own suites of products that might appeal to different sets of customers, and we can do this on a network that is going to treat all these applications in a similar way, and not penalize any specific application,’” said Mamakos. “That gets at the root of this protocol-agnostic network management technique.”



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P2P throttling
By AnnihilatorX on 7/10/2008 9:06:33 AM , Rating: 2
I am not a network expert and correct me if I am wrong. I think throttling of rate limiting is a wrong method of limiting the impact of P2P traffic on network load.

My home network is setup with QoS service so that all http, https, VoIP protocols are given upmost priority over other traffics and I have never had intances where I have to rate-limit BitTorrent or any other P2P to avoid slowing my other web activities down. P2P clients seldom has any issues with network latency and loss packets, which favours a QoS approach.

Why can't ISP implement QoS in a grand scale rather than doing throttling as a rate-limitting technique; when both of the aforementioned require almost the same level of complexity, i.e. packet inspection.




RE: P2P throttling
By mdogs444 on 7/10/2008 9:25:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why can't ISP implement QoS in a grand scale rather than doing throttling as a rate-limitting technique


There may be several reasons for it. Is it that they can't physically do it? No. Could it be that this way, they don't have to upgrade their network? Could it also be a way for them to transition to pay-per-mb plan?


RE: P2P throttling
By Screwballl on 7/10/2008 10:36:40 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
Could it also be a way for them to transition to pay-per-mb plan?


BINGO! hit the nail on the head... these companies are slowly working towards pay-to-use service instead of unlimited connections... they see it as a way to get the heaviest users to pay for the service using the same networks that everyone else does now, but costs the users more. This is VERY bad as VoIP, internet TV and more P2P apps become the mainstream and use more bandwidth...


RE: P2P throttling
By mdogs444 on 7/10/2008 10:54:53 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
as VoIP, internet TV and more P2P apps become the mainstream and use more bandwidth...

Exactly why I think their doing it. Goes to say that technology progresses, more bandwidtch and infrastruture will need to be put into place. If their own way to raise enough capital to pay for those is to increase the price on all their tiered plans, they'd see man people opt to drop the service - especially the ones like my parents who use the internet for nothing more than email & random shopping. In a way, I'm not totally against a pay-per service, because I don't do much downloading and it would allow me to get a higher speed service at a lower price. I dont feel its worth it to me to spend $50 for a faster service when I'm not using much bandwidth. But I can see the counter argument as well.


RE: P2P throttling
By HrilL on 7/10/2008 11:46:55 AM , Rating: 4
People like you don't understand how the system is going to work. Look at Time Warner. They kept the same prices for the same speeds and just added the bandwidth cap limits.

Anyone that thinks they will be paying less is a fool. ISPs are not going to take a cut in revenue because some of the heavy users might balance out the difference. It is all about bringing in more revenue and they way they are going to do and are doing is keeping the same price and add a limit to the amount of bandwidth you can use.


RE: P2P throttling
By mdogs444 on 7/10/2008 12:03:30 PM , Rating: 2
Which may be so. Either way - my cost will not go up (if your assertion is correct).

Like I said, I dont use much bandwidth because I dont do much downloading at all. So long as I dont have to foot the bill for someone who downloads movies all day, then its fine.


RE: P2P throttling
By bdewong on 7/10/2008 4:32:44 PM , Rating: 2
That may be true now, but how about in the future. What if online movie rentals or streaming services become attractive in the future. With the ridiculously low caps on the proposed services, you may be rethinking your views.


RE: P2P throttling
By FITCamaro on 7/10/2008 5:15:11 PM , Rating: 1
I'm ok with caps on bandwidth as long as those caps for standard plans are high. 5GB is nothing. Neither is 50GB really. I don't think new technologies should be held back because ISPs haven't upgraded their networks properly.

To me the caps need to be a bare minimum of 150-200GB for the standard plan today($45-50/month). Have a low usage plan. Heck even do it as you said, same speed, different caps or a mix.

5GB cap, 512Kbps down/128Kbps up connection, $10/month
20GB cap, 1 Mbps down/256Kbps up connection, $20/month
50GB cap, 4 Mbps down/386Kbps up connection, $30/month
100GB cap, 8 Mbps down/512 Kbps up connection, $40/month
200GB cap, 10 Mbps down/768 Kbps up connection, $50/month
300GB cap, 12 Mbps down/1Mbps up connection, $60/month
and so on.


RE: P2P throttling
By FredEx on 7/11/2008 1:28:20 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think with Comcast we'd see those lower prices, they'd lose way too much money. The cost range for CHSI for the folks having cable TV with them also is running from $20 (rounded off and just temporary with some deals) up to $70 which I pay for 16/2 in my Chicago Market area. Business class is a whole other thing, 16/2 in my market area runs $82.00.

There are a hell of a lot of people on Comcast paying $30 and up that probably don't go over 5GB a month, they just do e-mail and check a few sites. I don't see Comcast dropping those few million of users down to $10 a month and giving up $20 + in revenue per, a month.


RE: P2P throttling
By roadrun777 on 7/11/2008 12:11:06 PM , Rating: 1
At least a few people out there understand the mentality. They will not lower prices period people. So to those of you who keep saying grandma should get lower prices because Bob plays online games and watches youtub all day, well it's not going to happen.
The problem with pay per MB scheme, is that many legitimate pay-for-service websites already charge customers for the amount of traffic they use. So what happens when the 30$ a month I paying for two VOIP lines runs me over the limit and causes me to pay an extra 50$ on my bill for overages?
Do end consumers have a way to limit device usage? Should people be forced to get a degree in computer science just to learn network management techniques?

Who's fault is that? If you say its mine becuase I didn't learn linux, and get an electronics degree so I could buy out a small fabrication plant, hire a few engineers, make my own router and design software that shows me "clearly" which computers/devices on my internet are using X amount of traffic.
If you are going to bill by usage, you have to have granularity and clarity of what used what, when, and where. Otherwise you can't just slap me with a bill, hey pay 50$ because you went over! Really? How do I know its me? Maybe someone hijacked my wifi? Maybe my VOIP device is set to a G11 codec which uses double the traffic. Are end users supposed to understand all this? Is it there responsibility?

Now onto privacy issues, imagine Comcast starts tracking everything you do, records the devices, and how much traffic they use, where they are going, etc. Who keeps these logs? If they issue this in paper form the government can demand you keep a copies for up to 7 years.

The issues hear are frightening to me. Paying per MB means a major loss in privacy and control to normal consumers. Enterprises can already afford the $4000 router equipment that can do all this in-house without an ISP becoming involved. So where does that leave home user?


RE: P2P throttling
By roadrun777 on 7/11/2008 1:22:41 PM , Rating: 1
I should clarify that a little more.
I live in an area where there is no competition, despite the fact that the FCC takes our tax dollars to "supposedly" promote competition of communication services in a given area.
When I mention about the $50 in overages, I failed to mention what the scenario would be like.
I already pay 49.99 (or 50.00 for non marketing people), for internet service of the lowest tier. Add $30 monthly for 2 VOIP phone lines. Now imagine all of a sudden Comcast suddenly implements a policy of usage limits and obscene overages. So $50.00 a month isn't enough? Now I am forced to find a way to monitor my computer devices and their usage? How do I do that when all the equipment I have in my home is leased from the cable company, and the VOIP provider? They don't let end users access the configuration menus of their devices. The cable companies want you to think that they are driving up prices because Joe, down the street, uses his internet "too much". That's the only marketing angle they have, and you will see their "payed" add people writing reviews on how the companies should raise prices to help grandma and grandpa out with their bill, because they only check email once a week. That is complete BS, horse apples, cow patties, you know...
They will not give up the revenue they are making from grandma and grandpa PERIOD , end of line. NO DISCUSSION! So stop with the lies already. What they will do is keep their failing slow infrastructure in place, refuse to upgrade the system, and take the millions they make in profits every month, and make it disappear in "administrative" overhead. Then wait until the FCC sues them to make them upgrade, or pass laws to force them to use the money to upgrade infrastructure (rather than be a large TICK on the population's back).

Why not choose another ISP? No 1) There is no competition, so it's either broadband or dial-up, and dial-up for VOIP doesn't quite work. So I have "NO CHOICE" if I want service. Capitalism only works when there is no monopoly. In this case though, the FCC is willing to overlook such monopolies because on the books they may show 5 companies in my area that offer internet services, what the FCC fails to show in their reports though, are that these companies are largely fake (in name only), or used as fronts for other businesses that do not offer services to residential users, only large businesses. So how is that competition?


RE: P2P throttling
By threepac3 on 7/10/2008 12:07:55 PM , Rating: 2
Thats why the tiered services exist. People who use a large amount of bandwidths pay for the higher speeds. Why should I pay extra to get the fasted connection and then have to pay extra to download on it. If your only using email or chatting whatsoever, then you should pay for no more then the basic speeds.

Me for example; I pay extra for the Verizon FIOS 20/20 service and yes I admit I usually use it to the fullest. If I was just doing email I would pay for that kind of bandwidth, I would probably go for something like 5 mbps.


RE: P2P throttling
By threepac3 on 7/10/2008 12:07:55 PM , Rating: 1
Thats why the tiered services exist. People who use a large amount of bandwidths pay for the higher speeds. Why should I pay extra to get the fasted connection and then have to pay extra to download on it. If your only using email or chatting whatsoever, then you should pay for no more then the basic speeds.

Me for example; I pay extra for the Verizon FIOS 20/20 service and yes I admit I usually use it to the fullest. If I was just doing email I would pay for that kind of bandwidth, I would probably go for something like 5 mbps.


RE: P2P throttling
By FITCamaro on 7/10/2008 5:16:52 PM , Rating: 1
I would kill you for a Klondike bar....or your FiOS connection.


RE: P2P throttling
By drebo on 7/10/2008 10:56:17 AM , Rating: 2
ISPs do not trust other ISPs' priority tags. That's just the way it is. A network provider can only guarantee quality of service through their own network, but once it leaves their network, it's up to the new network provider.

Technologies like MPLS are a start at trying to rememdy end-to-end reliability, but it's very unlikely this technology will ever reach consumers.


RE: P2P throttling
By Oregonian2 on 7/10/2008 2:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why can't ISP implement QoS in a grand scale rather than doing throttling as a rate-limitting technique; when both of the aforementioned require almost the same level of complexity, i.e. packet inspection.


I might point out that QoS is based upon throttling. It's just that QoS is the means by which throttling is done on a per-service basis rather than throttling everything "equally". Those services that are set with lowest priority in the QoS setup are that which get rate throttled first in response to congestion (the channel running at full capacity). Those with the highest QoS setting are throttled last. Etc.

You're basically promoting the selective throttling that they've been getting into trouble for doing.


A closeup...
By MrBlastman on 7/10/2008 9:50:09 AM , Rating: 2
Of the collaborative effort pictured above is needed. The data is inconclusive. Please provide more input.




RE: A closeup...
By Screwballl on 7/10/2008 10:39:31 AM , Rating: 2
RE: A closeup...
By tjr508 on 7/10/2008 12:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
Buzz kill, zoom back out please.

On another note, the stop pic is pretty funny.


RE: A closeup...
By excelsium on 7/10/2008 12:57:15 PM , Rating: 2
Dear DT, Always provide the hires source :P.


RE: A closeup...
By Fnoob on 7/10/2008 5:09:51 PM , Rating: 2
correction : high res x-ray pix plez.


The girls in the pricture are hot
By maroon1 on 7/10/2008 1:06:01 PM , Rating: 3
I like the picture that have those 4 girls. The have sexy legs.




RE: The girls in the pricture are hot
By Bucky Beaver on 7/12/2008 10:13:00 AM , Rating: 2
Yes - that's why they are "strange bedfellows" :) Wouldn't kick them out of my bed (well, OK the 2nd pic isn't too flattering - I might exclude her).

Strange title however - didn't see any bed or fellows for that matter..


By Shadow Conception on 7/14/2008 12:46:30 PM , Rating: 2
That pic was what drew me to click on the article... instead, I am greeted with a lengthy article about the twiddlings of two ISPs.


pic
By Shawn on 7/10/2008 1:03:44 PM , Rating: 3
need high res pic




Anything to get rid of spam!
By JonnyDough on 7/11/2008 4:05:38 AM , Rating: 2
This should help cut back on spam if people who have hijacked computers are paying out the nose for net service, they'll pay to go have their comp checked out. Furthermore, actual spammers who use their own computers will have to pay more as well. The issue might be that they fail to monitor the TRAFFIC, and not just downloads.

Uploads need to be figured in as well. I do like the tiered idea, as long as it saves me money. I'm sick of pirates (and you all know you do it) downloading their STOLEN crap offline while those of us who prefer to live in a society of integrity go out and pay for media. Why should I have to pay for other people's thievery or be annoyed with throttling when I play the occasional online game?

I would speculate that in the end this will probably be more beneficial to the honest consumer. A large majority of us that frequent tech sites like these are privy to getting ourselves files that we don't rightfully own, so naturally my post is probably going to be down rated. Oh well. You can't all be as cool and pious as me. =P




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