By Art Reisman
The term, walled off Garden, is the practice of a service provider locking you into their local content. A classic example of the walled off garden was exemplified by the early years of AOL. Originally when using their dial-up service, AOL provided all the content you could want. Access to the actual internet was granted by AOL only after other dial-up Internet providers started to compete with their closed offerings. Today, using much more subtle techniques, Internet providers try to keep you on their networks. The reason is simple, it costs them money to transfer you across a boundary to another network, and thus, it is in their economic interest to keep you within their network.
So how do Internet service providers keep you on their network?
1) Sometimes with monetary incentives , for example, with large commercial accounts they just tell you it is going to cost more. My experience with this practice are first hand. I have heard testimonial from many of our customers running ISPs, mostly outside the US , where they are sold a chunk of bulk bandwidth with conditions. The Terms are often something on the order of:
- – you have a 1 gigabit connection
- – if you access data outside the country you can only use 300 megabits.
- – If you go over 300 megabits outside the country there will hefty additional fees.
obviously there is going to be a trickle down effect where the regional ISP is going to try to discourage usage outside of the local country under such terms.
2) Then there are more passive techniques such as blatantly looking at your private traffic and just not letting off their network. This technique was used in the US, implemented by large service providers back in the mid 2000’s. Basically they targeted peer-to-peer requests and made sure you did not leave their network. Essentially you would only find content from other users within your providers network, even though it would appear as though you were searching the entire Internet. Special equipment was used to intercept your requests and only allow to you probe other users within your providers network thus saving them money by avoiding Internet Exchange fees.
3) Another way your provider will try to keep you on their network is offer local mirrored content. Basically they keep a copy of common files at a central location . In most cases this actually causes the user no harm as they still get the same content. But it can cause problems if not done correctly, they risk sending out old data or obsolete news stories that have been updates.
4) Lastly some governments just outright block content, but this is for mostly political reasons.
Editors Note: There are also political reasons to control where you go on the Internet Practiced in China and Iran
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