Thursday, November 23, 2017

Selective Internet "Fast Lanes" Might be Close to Impossible to Create

"Internet fast lanes" have been the big reason many supported strong forms of network neutrality. But it now appears that creation of such "for fee" fast lanes will be next to impossible, in the sense of specific business deals between specific app firms and specific internet service providers.

In other words, the end of common carrier regulation of internet access service will not create fruitful opportunity, on the part of ISPs, to create such "fast lanes," even if they wish to do so. The reason is technology change, as so often is the case.

Consider the simple matter of traffic encryption. To selectively prioritize traffic, an ISP would need some way to identify the packets or partners whose traffic is supposed to be selectively handled. Encryption is a problem, in that regard, one might argue.

Nearly all traffic on ISP networks is encrypted. Under such conditions, it is not clear how selective QoS mechanisms could be applied. ISPs simply will have no way of knowing what traffic is moving, or who the owners are.

And that would seem to be a requirement for any packet handling protocols intended to provide expedited handling.

By about 2020, estimates Openwave Mobility, fully 80 percent of all internet traffic will be encrypted. In 2017, more than 70 percent of all traffic is encrypted.

The key point is that selective optimization of packets will be virtually impossible. ISPs probably can optimize all traffic over their networks, but probably cannot selectively optimize.

So despite the fears (fanciful and legitimate) expressed about the “end of network neutrality” in the repeal of common carrier (Title II) regulation of internet access, it seems highly unlikely that feared “quality of service” service tiers which could be created by internet service providers will be major issues.

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