Google Verizon Net Neutrality Policy, is it sincere?


With all the rumors circulating about the larger wireless providers trying to wall off competition or generate extra revenue through preferential treatment of traffic, they had to do something, hence  Google and Verizon crafted a joint statement on Net Neutrality. Making a statement in denial of a rumor on such a scale is somewhat akin to admitting the rumor was true. It reminds me of a politician claiming he has no plans to raise taxes.

Yes, I believe that most people who work for Google and Verizon, executives included, believe in an open Neutral Internet.  And yet, from experience, when push comes to shove, and profits are flat or dropping, the idea of leveraging your assets will be on the table.  And what better way to leverage your assets than restrict competition to your captive audience. Walling off a captive audience to selected content will always be enticing to any service provider looking for low hanging fruit.  Morals can easily be compromised or rationalized in the face of losing your house, and it only takes one over zealous leader to start a provider down the slope.

The checks and balances so far, in this case, are the consumers who have voiced outright disgust with anybody who dare toy with the idea of  preferential  treatment of Internet traffic for economic benefit.

For now this concept will have to wait, but it will be revisited again and hopefully consumers will rise up in disgust.  It would be naive to think that today’s statement by Verizon and Google would be  binding beyond the political moment.

Net Neutrality Enforcement and Debate: Will It Ever Be Settled?


By Art Reisman

Art Reisman CTO www.netequalizer.com

Editor’s note: Art Reisman is the CTO of APconnections. APconnections designs and manufactures the popular NetEqualizer bandwidth shaper. APconnections removed all Deep Packet Inspection technology from their NetEqualizer product over 2 years ago.

As the debate over net neutrality continues, we often forget what an ISP actually is and why they exist.
ISPs in this country are for-profit private companies made up of stockholders and investors who took on risk (without government backing) to build networks with the hopes of making a profit. To make a profit they must balance users expectations for performance against costs of implementing a network.

The reason bandwidth control is used in the first place is the standard switching problem capacity problem. Nobody can afford the investment of infrastructure to build a network to meet peak demands at all times. Would you build a house with 10 bedrooms if you were only expecting one or two kids sometime in the future? ISPs build networks to handle an average load, and when peak loads come along, they must do some mitigation. You can argue they should have built their networks; with more foresight until you are green, but the fact is demand for bandwidth will always outstrip supply.

So, where did the net neutrality debate get its start?
Unfortunately, in many Internet providers’ first attempt to remedy the overload issue on their networks, the layer-7 techniques they used opened a Pandora’s box of controversy that may never be settled.

When the subject of net neutrality started heating up around 2007 and 2008, the complaints from consumers revolved around ISP practices of looking inside customer’s transmittal of data and blocking or redirecting traffic based on content. There were all sorts of rationalizations for this practice and I’ll be the first to admit that it was not done with intended malice. However, the methodology was abhorrent.

I likened this practice to the phone company listening into your phone calls and deciding which calls to drop to keep their lines clear. Or, if you want to take it a step farther, the postal service making a decision to toss your junk mail based on their own private criteria. Legally I see no difference between looking inside mail or looking inside Internet traffic. It all seems to cross a line. When referring to net neutrality, the bloggers of this era were originally concerned with this sort of spying and playing God with what type of data can be transmitted.

To remedy this situation, Comcast and others adopted methods that relegated Internet usage based on patterns of usage and not content. At the time, we were happy to applaud them and claim that the problem of spying on data had been averted. I pretty much turned my attention away from the debate at that time, but I recently started looking back at the debate and, wow, what a difference a couple of years make.

So, where are we headed?
I am not sure what his sources are, but Rush Limbaugh claims that net neutrality is going to become a new fairness doctrine. To summarize, the FCC or some government body would start to use its authority to ensure equal access to content from search engine companies. For example, making sure that minority points of view on subjects got top billing in search results. This is a bit a scary, although perhaps a bit alarmist, but it would not surprise me since, once in government control, anything is possible. Yes, I realize conservative talk radio show hosts like to elicit emotional reactions, but usually there is some truth to back up their claims.

Other intelligent points of view:

The CRTC (Canadian FCC) seems to have a head on their shoulders, they have stated that ISPs must disclose their practices, but are not attempting to regulate how in some form of over reaching doctrine. Although I am not in favor of government institutions, if they must exist then the CRTC stance seems like a sane and appropriate request with regard to regulating ISPs.

Freedom to Tinker

What Is Deep Packet Inspection and Why All the Controversy?

Behind the Scenes on the latest Comcast Ruling on Net Neutrality


Yesterday the FCC ruled in favor of Comcast regarding their rights to manipulate consumer traffic . As usual, the news coverage was a bit oversimplified and generic. Below we present a breakdown of the players involved, and our educated opinion as to their motivations.

1) The Large Service Providers for Internet Service: Comcast, Time Warner, Quest

From the perspective of Large Service Providers, these companies all want to get a return on their investment, charging the most money the market will tolerate. They will also try to increase market share by consolidating provider choices in local markets. Since they are directly visible to the public, they will also be trying to serve the public’s interest at heart; for without popular support, they will get regulated into oblivion. Case in point, the original Comcast problems stemmed from angry consumers after learning their p2p downloads were being redirected and/or  blocked.

Any and all government regulation will be opposed at every turn, as it is generally not good for private business. In the face of a strong headwind, don’t be surprised if Large Service Providers might try to reach a compromise quickly to alleviate any uncertainty.  Uncertainty can be more costly than regulation.

To be fair, Large Service Providers are staffed top to bottom with honest, hard-working people but, their decision-making as an entity will ultimately be based on profit.  To be the most profitable they will want to prevent third-party Traditional Content Providers from flooding  their networks with videos.  That was the original reason why Comcast thwarted bittorrent traffic. All of the Large Service Providers are currently, or plotting  to be, content providers, and hence they have two motives to restrict unwanted traffic. Motive one, is to keep their capacities in line with their capabilities for all generic traffic. Motive two, would be to thwart other content providers, thus making their content more attractive. For example who’s movie service are you going to subscribe with?  A generic cloud provider such as Netflix whose movies run choppy or your local provider with better quality by design?

2) The Traditional Content Providers:  Google, YouTube, Netflix etc.

They have a vested interest in expanding their reach by providing expanded video content.  Google, with nowhere to go for new revenue in the search engine and advertising business, will be attempting  an end-run around Large Service Providers to take market share.   The only thing standing in their way is the shortcomings in the delivery mechanism. They have even gone so far as to build out an extensive, heavily subsidized, fiber test network of their own.  Much of the hubbub about Net Neutrality is  based on a market play to force Large Service Providers to shoulder the Traditional Content Providers’ delivery costs.  An analogy from the bird world would be the brown-headed cowbird, where the mother lays her eggs in another bird’s nest, and then lets her chicks be raised by an unknowing other species.  Without their own delivery mechanism direct-to-the-consumer, the Traditional Content Providers  must keep pounding at the FCC  for rulings in their favor.  Part of the strategy is to rile consumers against the Large Service Providers, with the Net Neutrality cry.

3) The FCC

The FCC is a government organization trying to take their existing powers, which were granted for airwaves, and extend them to the Internet. As with any regulatory body, things start out well-intentioned, protection of consumers etc., but then quickly they become self-absorbed with their mission.  The original reason for the FCC was that the public airways for television and radio have limited frequencies for broadcasts. You can’t make a bigger pipe than what frequencies will allow, and hence it made sense to have a regulatory body oversee this vital  resource. In  the early stages of commercial radio, there was a real issue of competing entities  broadcasting  over each other in an arms race for the most powerful signal.  Along those lines, the regulatory entity (FCC) has forever expanded their mission.  For example, the government deciding what words can be uttered on primetime is an extension of this power.

Now with Internet, the FCC’s goal will be to regulate whatever they can, slowly creating rules for the “good of the people”. Will these rules be for the better?  Most likely the net effect is no; left alone the Internet was fine, but agencies will be agencies.

4) The Administration and current Congress

The current Administration has touted their support of Net Neutrality, and perhaps have been so overburdened with the battle on health care and other pressing matters that there has not been any regulation passed.  In the face of the aftermath of the FCC getting slapped down in court to limit their current powers, I would not be surprised to see a round of legislation on this issue to regulate Large Service Providers in the near future.  The Administraton will be painted as consumer protection against big greedy companies that need to be reigned in, as we have seen with banks, insurance companies, etc…. I hope that we do not end up with an Internet Czar, but some regulation is inevitable, if nothing else for a revenue stream to tap into.

5) The Public

The Public will be the dupes in all of this, ignorant voting blocks lobbied by various scare tactics.   The big demographic difference on swaying this opinion will be much different from the health care lobby.  People concerned for and against Internet Regulation will be in income brackets that have a higher education and employment rate than the typical entitlement lobbies that support regulation.  It is certainly not going to be the AARP or a Union Lobbyist leading the charge to regulate the Internet; hence legislation may be a bit delayed.

6) Al Gore

Not sure if he has a dog in this fight; we just threw him in here for fun.

7) NetEqualizer

Honestly, bandwidth control will always be needed, as long as there is more demand for bandwidth than there is bandwidth available.  We will not be lobbying for or against Net Neutrality.

8) The Courts

This is an area where I am a bit weak in understanding how a Court will follow legal precedent.  However, it seems to me that almost any court can rule from the bench, by finding the precedent they want and ignoring others if they so choose?  Ultimately, Congress can pass new laws to regulate just about anything with impunity.  There is no constitutional protection regarding Internet access.  Most likely the FCC will be the agency carrying out enforcement once the laws are in place.

NetEqualizer provides Net Neutrality solution for bandwidth control.


By Eli Riles NetEqualizer VP of Sales

This morning I read an article on how some start up companies are being hurt awaiting the FCC’s decision on Net Neutrality.

Late in the day, a customer called and exclaimed, “Wow now with the FCC coming down  hard on technologies that jeopardize net neutrality, your business  must booming since you offer an excellent viable alternative” And yet  in face of this controversy, several of our competitors continue to sell deep packet inspection devices to customers.

Public operators and businesses that continue to purchase such technology are likely uninformed about the growing fire-storm of opposition against Deep Packet Inspection techniques.  The allure of being able to identify, and control Internet Traffic by type is very a natural solution, which customers often demand. Suppliers who sell DPI devices are just doing what their customer have asked. As with all technologies once the train leaves the station it is hard to turn around. What is different in the case of DPI is that suppliers and ISPs had their way with an ignorant public starting in the late 90’s. Nobody really gave much thought as to how DPI might be the villain in the controversy over Net Nuetrality. It was just assumed that nobody would notice their internet traffic being watched and redirected by routing devices. With behemoths such as Google having a vested interest in keeping traffic flowing without Interference on the Internet, commercial deep packet inspection solutions are slowly falling out of favor in the ISP sector. The bigger question for the players betting the house on DPI is , will it fall out favor in other  business verticals?

The NetEqualizer decision to do away with DPI two years ago is looking quite brilliant now, although at the time it was clearly a risk bucking market trends.  Today, even in the face of world wide recession our profit and unit sales are up for the first three quarters of 2009 this year.

As we have claimed in previous articles there is a time and place for deep packet inspection; however any provider using DPI to manipulate data is looking for a potential dog fight with the FCC.

NetEqualizer has been providing alternative bandwidth control options for ISPs , Businesses , and Schools of all sizes for 7 years without violating any of the Net Nuetrality sacred cows. If you have not heard about us, maybe now is a good time to pick up the phone. We have been on the record touting our solution as being fair equitable for quite some time now.

Net Neutrality Bill Won’t End Conflicts Between Users and Providers


This week, Representatives Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act aimed at protecting the rights of Internet users and ultimately net neutrality. Yet, before net neutrality advocates unequivocally praise the bill, it should be noted that it protects the rights of Internet service providers as well. For example, as long as ISPs are candid with their customers in regard to their network optimizaiton practices, the bill does allow for “reasonable network management,” stating:

“Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an Internet access provider from engaging in reasonable network management consistent with the policies and duties of nondiscrimination and openness set forth in this Act. For purposes of subsections (b)(1) and (b)(5), a network management practice is a reasonable practice only if it furthers a critically important interest, is narrowly tailored to further that interest, and is the means of furthering that interest that is the least restrictive, least discriminatory, and least constricting of consumer choice available. In determining whether a network management practice is reasonable, the Commission shall consider, among other factors, the particular network architecture or technology limitations of the provider.”

While this stipulation is extremely important in the protection it provides Internet service providers, it is likely to come into conflict with some Internet users’ ideas of net neutrality.  For example, the bill also states that it is ISPs’ “duty to not block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair or degrade the ability of any person to use an Internet access service to access, use, send, post, receive or offer any lawful content, application or service through the Internet.” However, even users of the NetEqualizer, one of the more hands off approaches to network management, don’t have a choice but to target the behavior of certain heavy customers. One person’s penchant for downloading music — legally or not — can significantly impact the quality of service for everyone else. And, increasing bandwidth just to meet the needs of a few users isn’t reasonable either.

It would seem that this would be a perfect case of reasonable network management which would be allowed under the proposed bill. Yet many net neutrality advocates tend to quickly dismiss any management as an infringement upon the user’s rights. The protection of the users’ rights will likely get the attention in discussions about these types of bills, but there should also be just as much emphasis on the rights of the provider to reasonably manage their network and what this may mean for the idea of unadulterated net neutrality.

The fact that this bill includes the right to reasonably manage one’s network indicates that some form of management is typically nececsary for a network to run at its full potential. The key is finding some middle ground.

Related article September 22 2009

FCC rules in favor of Net Neutrality the commentary on this blog is great and worth the read.

Google Questions Popular Bandwidth Shaping Myth


At this week’s Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission Internet traffic hearing, Google’s Canada Policy Counsel, Jacob Glick, raised a point that we’ve been arguing for the last few years. Glick said:

“We urge you to reject as false the choice between debilitating network congestion and application-based discrimination….This is a false dichotomy. The evidence is, and experience in Canada and in the U.S. already shows, that carriers can manage their networks, reduce congestion and protect the open Internet, all at the same time.”

While we agree with Glick to a certain extent, we differ in the alternative proposed by hearing participants — simply increase bandwidth. This is not to say that increasing bandwidth isn’t the appropriate solution in certain circumstances, but to question the validity of a dichotomy with an equally narrow third alternative doesn’t exactly significantly expand the industry’s options. Especially when increasing bandwidth isn’t always a viable solution for some ISPs.

The downsides of application-based shaping are one of the main reasons behind NetEqualizer’s reliance on behavior-based shaping. Therefore, while Glick is right that the above-mentioned dichotomy doesn’t explore all of the available options, it’s important to realize that the goals being promoted at the hearing are not solely achieved through increased bandwidth.

For more on how the NetEqualizer fits into the ongoing debate, see our past article, NetEqualizer Offers Net Neutrality, User Privacy Compromise.

Obama’s Revival of Net Neutrality Revisits An Issue Hardly Forgotten


Last Friday, President Obama reinvigorated (for many people, at least) the debate over net neutrality during a speech from the White House on cybersecurity. The president made it clear that users’ privacy and net neutrality would not be threatened under the guise of cybersecurity measures. President Obama stated:

“Let me also be clear about what we will not do. Our pursuit of cyber-security will not — I repeat, will not include — monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic. We will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans. Indeed, I remain firmly committed to net neutrality so we can keep the Internet as it should be — open and free.”

While this is certainly an important issue on the security front, for many ISPs and networks administrators, it didn’t take the president’s comments to put user privacy or net neutrality back in the spotlight.  In may cases, ISPs and network administrators constantly must walk the fine line between net neutrality, user privacy, and ultimately the well being of their own networks, something that can be compromised on a number of fronts (security, bandwidth, economics, etc.).

Therefore, despite the president’s on-going commitment to net neturality, the issue will continue to be debated and remain at the forefront of the minds of ISPs, administrators, and many users. Over the past few years, we at NetEqualizer have been working to provide a compromise for these interested parties, ensuring network quality and neutrality while protecting the privacy of users. It will be interesting to see how this debate plays out, and what it will mean for policy, as the philosophy of network neutrality continues to be challenged — both by individuals and network demands.

Further Reading

What is the FCC’s position on Net Neutrality?


More snippets on the Net Neutrality debate.

In an article from Wired today there are some interesting comments about the Fed’s position Net Neutrality

the FCC’s loose and little-enforced four principles (.pdf) should be the rules attached to the so-called Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. Those guidelines date to 2005 and state that consumers are entitled to surf where they like, have a choice of ISPs, and use whatever devices and applications they like.

Then the article goes on to detail a few other requirements for good measure:

For enforcement and research needs, the carriers have to be forced to turn over detailed information about their networks, such as where they interconnect, what traffic shaping techniques are used and how often they fail, according to telecom watcher Kevin Werbach and internet researcher kc claffy.

Personally I was kind of miffed to learn the FCC has an official guideline , and I even more miffed that it is seldom enforced.
Next up we will address the debate on if using deep packet inspection in a  spam filter is the same as opening private mail.

Net Neutrality Defined,Barack Obama is on the bandwagon


By Art Reisman, CTO, http://www.netequalizer.com

Art Reisman CTO www.netequalizer.com

Art Reisman

There continues to be a flurry of Net Neutrality articles published and according to one, Barack Obama is a big supporter of Net Neutrality.  Of course that was a fleeting campaign soundbite that the media picked up without much context.

I was releived to see that finally a politically entity put a definition on Net Neutrality.

From the government of Norway we get:

“The new rules lay out three guidelines. First, Internet users must be given complete and accurate information about the service they are buying, including capacity and quality. Second, users are allowed to send and receive content of their choice, use services and applications of their choice. and connect any hardware and software that doesn’t harm the network. Finally, the connection cannot be discriminated against based on application, service, content, sender, or receiver.”

Full Article: Norway gets net neutrality—voluntary, but broadly supported

I could not agree more. Note that this definition does not rule out some form a fair bandwidth shaping, and that is an important distinction because the Internet will be reduced to gridlock without some traffic control.

The funniest piece of irony in this whole debate is that the larger service providers are warning of Armageddon without some form of fairness rules, (and I happen to agree) , while at the same time their marketing arm is creating an image of infinite unfettered access for $29 a month. (I omitted a reference link because they change daily)

More Resistence for Deep Packet Inspection


Editors note:

We come across stories from irate user groups every day. It seems the more the public knows about deep packet inspection practices the less likely it becomes. In Canada it looks like the resistance is getting some heavy hitters.

Google, Amazon, others want CRTC to ban internet interference

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 | 4:53 PM ET Comments49Recommend97

A coalition of more than 70 technology companies, including internet search leader Google, online retailer Amazon and voice over internet provider Skype, is calling on the CRTC to ban internet service providers from “traffic shaping,” or using technology that favours some applications over others.

In a submission filed Monday to the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in advance of a July probe into the issue of internet traffic management, the Open Internet Coalition said traffic shaping network management “discourages investment in broadband networks, diminishes consumer choice, interferes with users’ freedom of expression, and inhibits innovation.”

Full Article

Is Barack Obama going to turn the tide toward Net Neutrality ?


NetWork World of Canada discusses some interesting scenarios about possible policy changes with the new adminstration.

In the article the author (Howard Solomon) specifically sites Obama’s leaning…

Meanwhile, the new President favours net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) shouldn’t interfere with content traveling online, which could hurt Sandvine, a builder of deep packet inspection appliances for ISPs. At least one Senator is expected to introduce limiting legislation this month.

Will this help NetEqualizer sales and our support for behavior-based Net Neutral policy shaping?

According to Eli Riles vice president of sales at APconnections, “I don’t think it will change things much, we are already seeing steady growth, and I don’t expect a rush to purchase our equipment due to a government policy change. We sell mostly to Tier2 and Tier3 providers who have already generally stopped purchasing Layer 7 solutions mostly due to the higher cost and less so due to moral high ground or government mandate.”

related article

Stay tuned…

Canadians Mull over Privacy and Deep Packet Inspection


Editor’s note: Seems the Canadians are also finally forced to face the issue of deep packet inspection. I guess the cat is out of the bag in Canada? One troubling note in the article below is the authors insinuation that the only way to control Internet bandwidth is through DPI .

Privacy Commissioner of Canada - blog.privcom.gc.ca

CRTC begins dialogue on traffic shaping

Posted on November 21st, 2008 by Daphne Guerrero

Yesterday, the CRTC rendered its decision on ISP’s traffic shaping practices. It announced that it was denying the Canadian Internet Service Providers’ (CAIP) request that Bell Canada, which provides wholesale ADSL services to smaller ISPs across the country, cease the traffic-shaping practices it has adopted for its wholesale customers.

“Based on the evidence before us, we found that the measures employed by Bell Canada to manage its network were not discriminatory. Bell Canada applied the same traffic-shaping practices to wholesale customers as it did to its own retail customers,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC.

Moreover, the CRTC recognized that traffic-shaping “raises a number of questions” for both end-users and ISPs and has decided to hold a public hearing next July to consider them.

Read the full article

Deep Packet Inspection DPI a Felony ?


Editors Note: In a recent press release APconnections denounced the use of any and all DPI in its products going forward. A customer brought this Article by Ryan Singel to our attention and it is worth reading if you are wondering where this is going.

Former Prosecutor: ISP Content Filtering Might be a ‘Five Year Felony’

By Ryan Singel EmailMay 22, 2008 | 3:23:35 PMCategories: Network Neutrality, Surveillance

Prison_san_quentin NEW HAVEN, Connecticut — Internet service providers that monitor their networks for copyright infringement or bandwidth hogs may be committing felonies by breaking federal wiretapping laws, a panel said Thursday.

University of Colorado law professor Paul Ohm, a former federal computer crimes prosecutor, argues that ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T and Charter Communications that are or are contemplating ways to throttle bandwidth, police for copyright violations and serve targeted ads by examining their customers’ internet packets are putting themselves in criminal and civil jeopardy.

See the full Article

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/05/isp-content-f-1.html

Other ranting

http://xplornetsucks.blogspot.com/2008/11/internet-packet-spoofing.html

Delusions of Net Neutrality


I saw this post this morning, and I thought it was fantastically well written and informative.

Delusions of Net Neutrality

A mathematics professor at the University of Minnesota, Andrew Odlyzko, has a pretty blistering critique of Internet Service Provider’s (ISPs) arguments against net neutrality and about their love of streaming over download. It’s worth a read of the abstract if nothing more – his paper, The delusions of net neutrality (caution, links to a pdf) destroys many a myth of the internet and video. Having been to many a conference lately where the best minds in the room can only imagine the internet making a better tv, I appreciate some astute analysis of the reality.

Odlyzko shows that ISPs and others are pushing for a world where the goals of the internet are reduced to streaming movies, in relatively walled envrionments, and that the costs to build a network capable of this demand that net neutrality be curtailed.

Full Article

NetEqualizer Offers Net Neutrality, User Privacy Compromise


Although the debates surrounding net neutrality and user privacy are nothing new, the recent involvement of the Federal Communications Commission is forcing ISPs and network administrators to rethink their strategies for network optimization. The potential benefits of layer-7 bandwidth shaping and deep packet inspection are coming into conflict with the rights of Internet users to surf the net unimpeded while maintaining their privacy.

Despite the obvious potential relationship between net neutrality, deep packet inspection and bandwidth shaping, the issues are not inherently intertwined and must be judged separately. This has been the outlook at APconnections since the development of the network optimization appliance NetEqualizer five years ago.

On the surface, net neutrality seems to be a reasonable and ultimately beneficial goal for the Internet. In a perfect world, all consumers would be able to use the Internet to the extent they saw fit, absent of any bandwidth regulation. However, that perfect world does not exist.

In many cases, net neutrality can become a threat to equal access. Whether this is true for larger ISPs is debatable, however it cannot be denied when considering the circumstances surrounding smaller Internet providers. For example, administrators at rural ISPs, libraries, universities, and businesses often have no choice but to implement bandwidth shaping in order to ensure both reliable service and their own survival. When budgets allow only a certain amount of bandwidth to be purchased, once that supply is depleted, oftentimes due to the heavy usage of a small number of users, options are limited. Shaping in no longer a choice, but a necessity.

However, this does not mean that a free pass should be given for Internet providers to accomplish network optimization through any means available even at the expense of customer privacy. This is especially true considering that it’s possible to achieve network optimization without compromising privacy or equal access to the Internet. The NetEqualizer is a proven example.

Rather than relying on techniques such as deep packet inspection, NetEqualizer regulates bandwidth usage by connection limits and, through its fairness algorithm, ensures that all users are given equal access when the network is congested (Click here for a more detailed explanation of the NetEqualizer technology).

Therefore, a heavy bandwidth user that might be slowing Internet access for other customers can be kept in check without having to actually examine or completely block the data that is being sent. The end result is that the large majority of users will be able to access the Internet unhindered, while the privacy of all users is protected.

In the midst of the ongoing debates over net neutrality and privacy, the NetEqualizer approach is gaining popularity. This is apparent in both an increase in sales as well as on message boards and forums across the Internet. A recent Broadband Reports post reads:

“I don’t think anyone’s going to argue with you if you’re simply prioritizing real time traffic over non-real time. Just so long as you’re agnostic as to who’s sending the traffic, not making deals behind people’s backs, etc. then I’d have no problem with my ISP letting me surf the web or e-mail or stream at full speed, even if it meant that, when another person was doing the same, I could only get 100 KBs on a torrent instead of 150.

“I’d much rather have a NetEq’d open connection than a NATed nonmanaged one, that’s for sure.”

It is this agnostic approach that differentiates NetEqualizer from other network optimization appliances. While network administrators are able to prioritize applications such as VoIP in order to prevent latency, other activity, such as BitTorrent, is still able to take place – just at a slower speed when the network is congested. This is all done without deep packet inspection.

“NetEqualizer never opens up any customer data and thus cannot be accused of spying. Connections are treated as a metered resource,” said Art Reisman, CEO of APconnections. “The ISPs that use NetEqualizer simply put a policy in their service contracts stating how many connections they support, end of story. BitTorrent is still allowed to run, albeit not as wide with unlimited connections.”

Although not a proponent of bandwidth shaping, TorrentFreak.com editor-in-chief and founder Ernesto differentiates NetEqualizer from other bandwidth shaping appliances.

“I am not a fan of bandwidth control, the correct solution is for providers to build out more capacity by reinvesting their profits, however I’ll concede a solution such as a NetEqualizer is much more palatable than redirecting or specially blocking bittorrent and also seems to be more acceptable to consumers than bandwidth caps or metered plans.

“There is a risk though, who decides what the ‘peaks times’ are, how much bandwidth / connections would that be? Let me reiterate, I would rather see that ISPs invest in network capacity than network managing hardware.

“The Internet is growing rapidly, and if networks ‘crash’ already, they are clearly doing something wrong.”

The ultimate capacity of individual networks will vary on a case-by-case basis, with some having little choice but to employ bandwidth shaping and others doing so for reasons other than necessity. It has never been the intention of APconnections to pass judgment on how or why users implement shaping technology. The NetEqualizer is simply providing a bandwidth optimization alternative to deep packet inspection that gives administrators the opportunity to manage their networks with respect to both net neutrality and customer privacy.

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