Evil ISPs Throttle Most Demanding Services
Net neutrality is a phrase that has been coming up a lot in the news recently. Every day internet users are threatened by those seeking to restrict the open nature of the internet. Governments and conglomerates are the main culprits that threaten net neutrality. In China we see how the government has employed a firewall to filter and control the internet that its residents perceive. Large media companies such as Warner Bros. have gained a reputation for attempting to manipulate the internet by removing links to pirated material from Google searches, some of which were not illegal at all.
However the latest realisation is that ISPs are looking to jump aboard too, throttling the speeds of connections to popular internet services such as YouTube and Netflix. Streaming a HD 1080p video on YouTube requires around a 2.9 megabits per second internet connection to the YouTube servers. The average internet speed in the US is 18.2 megabits per second – this should be more than enough to stream in full HD, surely? Well, if YouTube fails to pay your ISP to ‘prioritise’ their stream then you may find streaming speed to be substandard.
But why is this? ISPs are looking to break the existing model of the internet to get a little bit more cash in their back pocket. ISPs argue that these services put their network under huge stress, but let us not forget that these ISPs are advertising connection speeds far in excess of what is required to stream from Youtube or Netflix. Rarely are internet connections advertised to be slower that 8 megabits per second – over double the requirement to stream in 1080p from YouTube. Is it right that ISPs are massively overselling the service they provide?
Everyone loses; the ISP is abusing their power of the sytem. These ridiculous costs that web service providers have to pay are in addition to already existing costs for bandwidth, hardware and connectivity. Those ISPs who are not paid will continue to throttle connections for customers providing customers with a terrible level of service.
British Telecom (BT) has announced that they have now completely ditched throttling on all packages (not including their entry level packages). BT believes that they have expanded their network to now facilitate higher levels of usage, resulting in no need for throttling. The rapid expansion of the UKs fibre optic network is thanks to investments from government and healthy competition. The same is not true in the US where there is very little funding from the state and competition is almost non-existent, making choices and the quality of service even more limited for our transatlantic peers.
The future of the payment for services on the internet is unclear. Rumours say in the future ISPs may even employ a pay as you go model charging their customers for every page load. With the current state of things I wouldn’t be surprised if this started rolling out soon.