Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Edge Caching and Better Than Best Efforts Routing

A recent WSJ article has caused a tempest in a teapot over the possibility that standard bearers for network neutrality, such as Google, have gone over to the dark side in favor of something akin to “better than best efforts” routing. See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122929270127905065.html; Others dispute this; see http://www.circleid.com/posts/google_seeking_preferential_treatment_isps/. In reality, Google seeks to pay a premium for distributing most likely to be requested search answers to proxy servers closer to the search initiator.

I do not see how this violates network neutrality, because Google seeks only the very same sort of expedited delivery of “mission critical” packets as CBS would for its coverage of March Madness basketball and Victoria’s Secret for its webcasted fashion shows. Better than best efforts routing, like that offered by Akamai, reduces the number of routers and the potential for lost packets and latency. Both subscribers downstream from content and upstream content providers should have the opportunity to pay for better than best efforts, plain vanilla packet routing. But network neutrality concerns weigh in when and if ISPs deliberately drop packets as a ruse to force either end users or content providers to trade up in service, or when ISPs so partition their networks to all but guarantee that best efforts routing will result in inadequate service.

1 comment:

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