Net Neutrality Friday

Been a quiet week out there in the world of Telecom. So, I wanted to circle back to the whole "Fast Lane" Conversation and talk about a couple of the challenges that I see. As you know, I think that trying to do this is not a bad policy decision for the FCC. I think that it is a bad product choice by an Internet Service Provider.

I think one of the things that people forget is the world of the SaaS company or Content Provider. I worked at Red Condor/Edgewave for a couple of years, so I think I have a bit of perspective here. If a "Fast Lane" was offered to me, I might choose it for the connection from our Headquarters to the Ashburn Data Center. We had an Ethernet over SONET connection from Rohnert Park to San Jose. But our connections to Ashburn were over a pure Layer 3 VPN. If I had the option of buying a higher quality connection to Ashburn I would definitely consider it.

That would lead me to my first question. Would I actually get a higher quality connection? Well, depends on who offered me the service. Would they be able to provide a complete end to end route from Ashburn to Rohnert Park? What would the Service Level Agreement be? How would I measure the quality of the connection? What is the recourse if I didn't get the quality of connection that I was paying for?

So, let me step back to why this connection was important to me. The connection from HQ to the Data Centers was very important in our ability to provide our Service 24/7/365. I didn't have any particular issue with the setup we had, but would be happy to hear about any improvements in service reliability that could be had at little to no cost.

Switching to the other side of the coin. I would not have been interested in that service as it faced our customers. What a NIGHTMARE that would have been. The number of Internet Service Providers involved would have been staggering. Keeping track of who paid for improved service and who didn't is one problem. How to manage outages and service interruptions if there would be a headache. And what do I do with customers who DON'T pay for improved connections or CAN'T get an improved connection that meets my needs?

Now imagine this is Netflix. They will have to have peer to peer connections with every ISP. Then they will have to have a similar service offering from every ISP. Then they will have to mandate what happens if you have a tablet and are streaming in a Hotel Room.

Right now the simplicity of not having to know about all of that makes the job of a Content Owner simpler. They build the service to a Lowest Common Denominator. I played a lot of MMORPG online games like World of Warcraft. They built those games to work over dial-up. They weren't great over dial-up, but they could work. They wanted to keep the network out of the equation as a problem for game performance. That is why gaming is almost never mentioned in these conversations.

Right now I stream Netflix and have no problems on my TV using our PS/4 or on my Desktop or on my Tablet. I haven't really used my phone yet, but I am sure it would work there as well. The only outstanding question is around the latest TV technologies. The jury is still out if this is going to be a major consumer thing. Remember when 3DTV was going to take over the world?

So remember when if people start providing "Fast Lanes" that the service has to meet a need for a Content Owner. Consumers are concerned that the Content Owners who don't have higher end service will be put out of business. I will address that next week.

Have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
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