NetEqualizer Bandwidth Control Tech Seminar Video Highlights


Tech Seminar, Eastern Michigan University, January 27, 2009

This 10-minute clip was professionally produced January 27, 2009. It  gives a nice quick overview of how the NetEqualizer does bandwidth control while providing priority for VoIP and video.

The video specifically covers:

1) Basic traffic shaping technology and NetEqualizer’s behavior-based methods

2) Internet congestion and gridlock avoidance on a network

3) How peer-to-peer file sharing operates

4) How to counter the effects of peer-to-peer file sharing

5) Providing QoS and priority for voice and video on a network

6) A short comparison by a user (a university admin) who prefers NetEqualizer to layer-7 deep packet inspection techniques

Four Reasons Why Peer-to-Peer File Sharing Is Declining in 2009


By Art Reisman

CTO of APconnections, makers of the plug-and-play bandwidth control and traffic shaping appliance NetEqualizer

Art Reisman CTO www.netequalizer.com

I recently returned from a regional NetEqualizer tech seminar with attendees from Western Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University and a few regional ISPs.  While having a live look at Eastern Michigan’s p2p footprint, I remarked that it was way down from what we had been seeing in 2007 and 2008.  The consensus from everybody in the room was that p2p usage is waning. Obviously this is not a wide data base to draw a conclusion from, but we have seen the same trend at many of our customer installs (3 or 4 a week), so I don’t think it is a fluke. It is kind of ironic, with all the controversy around Net Neutrality and Bit-torrent blocking,  that the problem seems to be taking care of itself.

So, what are the reasons behind the decline? In our opinion, there are several reasons:

1) Legal Itunes and other Mp3 downloads are the norm now. They are reasonably priced and well marketed. These downloads still take up bandwidth on the network, but do not clog access points with connections like torrents do.

2) Most music aficionados are well stocked with the classics (bootleg or not) by now and are only grabbing new tracks legally as they come out. The days of downloading an entire collection of music at once seem to be over. Fans have their foundation of digital music and are simply adding to it rather than building it up from nothing as they were several years ago.

3) The RIAA enforcement got its message out there. This, coupled with reason #1 above, pushed users to go legal.

4) Legal, free and unlimited. YouTube videos are more fun than slow music downloads and they’re free and legal. Plus, with the popularity of YouTube, more and more television networks have caught on and are putting their programs online.

Despite the decrease in p2p file sharing, ISPs are still experiencing more pressure on their networks than ever from Internet congestion. YouTube and NetFlix  are more than capable of filling in the void left by waning Bit-torrents.  So, don’t expect the controversy over traffic shaping and the use of bandwidth controllers to go away just yet.

NetEqualizer Seminar at Eastern Michigan University


NetEq. Seminars

On January 27, we will be hosting a complimentary NetEqualizer Seminar at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. EMU, which has been a NetEqualizer user for several months, is the home of over 23,000 students, providing for a first-hand look at the NetEqualizer’s capabilities. In addition, door prizes will be awarded to attendees, including a number of Garmin GPS systems.We’ll cover:

  • The various tradeoffs regarding how to stem p2p and bandwidth abuse
  • Recommendations for curbing RIAA requests
  • Demo of the new NetEqualizer network access control module
  • Lots of customer Q&A and information sharing on how Eastern Michigan University is using the NetEqualizer, including some hands on probing of a live system

When: Tuesday, January 27, 10 a.m. to noon

Where:

Eastern Michigan University
Bruce T. Halle Library Building, Room 302
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
(directions)

This will be a great opportunity to learn more about the issues and challenges facing network administrators as well as see the NetEqualizer in action. If you’re in the area, be sure not to miss it! For more information, contact us at admin@apconnections.net.

How Much YouTube Can the Internet Handle?


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

Art Reisman CTO www.netequalizer.com

Art Reisman

 

As the Internet continues to grow and true speeds become higher,  video sites like YouTube are taking advantage of these fatter pipes. However, unlike the peer-to-peer traffic of several years ago (which seems to be abating), YouTube videos don’t face the veil of copyright scrutiny cast upon p2p which caused most users to back off.
 

In our experience, there are trade offs associated with the advancements in technology that have come with YouTube. From measurements done in our NetEqualizer laboratories, the typical normal quality YouTube video needs about 240kbs sustained over the 10 minute run time for the video. The newer higher definition videos run at a rate at least twice that. 

Many of the rural ISPs that we at NetEqualizer support with our bandwidth shaping and control equipment have contention ratios of about 300 users per 10-megabit link. This seems to be the ratio point where these small businesses can turn  a profit.  Given this contention ratio, if 40 customers simultaneously run YouTube, the link will be exhausted and all 300 customers will be wishing they had their dial-up back. At last check, YouTube traffic accounted for 10 percent of all Internet Traffic.  If left completely unregulated,  a typical rural  ISP could find itself on the brink of saturation from normal YouTube usage already. With tier-1 providers in major metro areas there is usually more bandwidth, but with that comes higher expectations of service and hence some saturation is inevitable. 

If you believe there is a conspiracy, or that ISPs are not supposed to profit as they take risk and operate in a market economy, you are entitled to your opinion, but we are dealing with reality. And there will always be tension between users and their providers, much the same as there is with government funds and highway congestion. 

The fact is all ISPs have a fixed amount of bandwidth they can deliver and when data flows exceed their current capacity, they are forced to implement some form of passive constraint. Without them many networks would lock up completely. This is no different than a city restricting water usage when reservoirs are low. Water restrictions are well understood by the populace and yet somehow bandwidth allocations and restrictions are perceived as evil. I believe this misconception is simply due to the fact that bandwidth is so dynamic, if there was a giant reservoir of bandwidth pooled up in the mountains where you could see this resource slowly become depleted , the problem could be more easily visualized. 

The best compromise offered, and the only comprise that is not intrusive is bandwidth rationing at peak hours when needed. Without rationing, a network will fall into gridlock, in which case not only do the YouTube videos come to halt , but  so does e-mail , chat , VOIP and other less intensive applications. 

There is some good news, alternative ways to watch YouTube videos. 

We noticed during out testing that YouTube videos attempt to play back video as a  real-time feed , like watching live TV.  When you go directly to YouTube to watch a video, the site and your PC immediately start the video and the quality becomes dependent on having that 240kbs. If your providers speed dips below this level your video will begin to stall, very annoying;  however if you are willing to wait a few seconds there are tools out there that will play back YouTube videos for you in non real-time. 

Buffering Tool 

They accomplish this by pre-buffering before the video starts playing.  We have not reviewed any of these tools so do your research. We suggest you google “YouTube buffering tools” to see what is out there. Not only do these tools smooth out the YouTube playback during peak times or on slower connections , but they also help balance the load on the network during peak times. 

Bio Art Reisman is a partner and co-founder of APconnections, a company that provides bandwidth control solutions (NetEqualizer) to ISPs, Universities, Libraries, Mining Camps and any organization where groups of users must share their Internet resources equitably. What follows is an objective educational journey on how consumers and ISPs can live in harmony with the explosion of YouTube video.

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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