Corporate Study Shows You Should Pay More

    July 3, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

More bandwidth, not bandwidth manipulation, has been one of the technical solutions offered as an answer to the growing capacity demands of services like VoIP and video. It’s also been used as a rebuttal to telecom industry arguments against Net Neutrality, a rebuttal, um, rebutted in a new study sponsored by…


The more-bandwidth argument has been made most convincingly (read: most unemotionally) by British Telecommunications, when the company’s CTO Matt Beal opined that with enough bandwidth, there would be no need for traffic shaping, or prioritizing traffic, a goal that is exactly what has gotten the pro-Net Neutrality movement up in arms.

Let me put that simpler: Increase bandwidth capacity and the argument that traffic prioritization is necessary is moot.

With that in mind, it seems rather convenient that three of the five authors of a study comparing the costs of "differentiated" and "undifferentiated" networks are employed by AT&T.

This type of thing isn’t rare, companies commission studies all the time. Just when everybody was down on AOL’s enlistment of Goodmail’s services, Time Inc. released a study about the benefits of CertifiedEmail. Last month, Pitney Bowes, a company that bases its business around snail mail, played an interesting numbers game with a survey about email.

And who could forget Senator Ted Stevens’ Verizon-funded Net Neutrality poll disguised to be a poll about TV?

The point is, words and numbers can be put together to say anything you want. But for the remainder of this article, we’ll assume an AT&T-sponsored study on one of the core technical issues of the Net Neutrality debate hasn’t been doctored up.

“The study makes clear that there are substantial additional costs for the extra capacity required to operate networks in which all traffic is treated alike, and carrying traffic that needs to still be assured performance as specified in service level agreements (SLAs),” said principal investigator Shivkumar Kalyanaraman, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the institution AT&T made out the check to.

About 60 to 100 percent more costly in terms of extra capacity, according to the press release about the study.

“Clearly, an undifferentiated network in this context is less efficient and more expensive,” said coauthor K.K. Ramakrishnan of AT&T Labs. “We believe understanding the real impacts of the alternative strategies is important as the debate about network architecture unfolds.”

However, TechDirt CEO Mike Masnick, who’s been keeping track of exaggerations on both sides of the issue, notes:

It also doesn’t consider all the costs associated with a non-neutral network.… requiring 60% more bandwidth does not mean 60% additional cost. Furthermore… the cost of bandwidth keeps dropping, so it actually gets cheaper and cheaper over time. However, the cost of labor associated with setting up and maintaining a non-neutral network is likely to increase over time.

And that doesn’t even begin to address the limitless capacity fiber will offer once available everywhere (in the US, most likely 10-15 years later than the rest of the world), which the incumbents will own…