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Game Developers Note Net Neutrality Concerns To FCC

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the game-developers-are-people-too dept.

Networking 74

eldavojohn writes "A list of notes from game developers (PDF) was sent in a letter to the FCC which represented a net neutrality discussion between the developers and FCC representatives. Game Politics sums it up nicely, but the surprise is that developers are concerned with latency, not bandwidth, unlike the members of many other net neutrality discussions. One concern is that each and every game developer will need to negotiate with each and every ISP to ensure their traffic achieves acceptable levels of latency for users. 'Mr. Dyl of Turbine stated that ISPs sometimes block traffic from online gaming providers, for reasons that are not clear, but they do not necessarily continue those blocks if they are contacted. He recalled Turbine having to call ISPs that had detected the high UDP traffic from Turbine, and had apparently decided to block the traffic and wait to see who complained.' It seems a lot of the net neutrality discussions have only worried about one part of the problem — Netflix, YouTube and P2P — while an equally important source of concern went unnoticed: latency in online games."

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Doh! (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857210)

It seems a lot of the net neutrality discussions have only worried about one part of the problem -- Netflix, YouTube and P2P -- while an equally important source of concern went unnoticed: latency in online games."

The issue isn't specific to ANY type of usage - net neutrality, or rather the lack of it, impacts all uses of the network.
As long as connectivity providers are also application providers, any application they don't like is a potential candidate for connectivity problems.

Re:Doh! (1)

Scott Kevill (1080991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857406)

I'm not sure that net-neutrality would help this. ISPs are blocking high volumes of UDP packets, and they'll claim it's to protect users from DDoS attacks. They may even be telling the truth.

The summary is also badly composed by following the latency complaint with a quote about blocking traffic. That is, unless you consider a blocked packet to have infinite latency. The letter is much more vague about what their actual latency complaint is, other than, you know, latency is bad.

Re:Doh! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30857598)

not only isp. I had to disable my stupid routers "protections" to play modern warfare 2

Re:Doh! (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30858390)

It was trying to protect you from the crap known as modern warfare 2 multiplayer.

Re:Doh! (2, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30858760)

I think the summary was fine and that it's obviously a concern about throttling in regards to latency. Games, far more than youtube and other streaming sites, are far more impacted by latency. If the ISP's using throttling, or delaying tactics at the packet level to prioritize traffic, it will have a huge impact on the online gaming experience. What's funny is the effects may be subtle to borderline irritating so that users get a degraded experience that would be easy to blame on the content provider and not the internet provider.

Re:Doh! (2, Informative)

Scott Kevill (1080991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30859088)

Throttling does not affect packet latency. At the router level, it generally involves selectively discarding packets. Data is not drip-fed at the bit level or byte level.

In order to intentionally affect latency, it would have to do a lot more work by buffering them for a period of time before forwarding onwards.

Now throttling can affect latency of logical messages within a TCP stream depending on the size of those messages, due to the retransmissions required, but does not affect the latency of UDP packets as stated.

Re:Doh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30859148)

When he mentioned UDP packets, he was discussing the fact that the ISP blocked them completely which was not related to the other part of the summary regarding throttling.

Re:Doh! (1)

TakeyMcTaker (963277) | more than 4 years ago | (#30868154)

Throttling does not affect packet latency.

The data has to get there in some form, whether in UDP or TCP packets, so any need to resend does affect session latency. One way to work around packet drops in games is to send absolute positions instead of motion deltas, but that takes more data and affects transmission speed. Latency IS affected.

Another related issue is any ISP can suddenly decide to privilege their own VoIP service packets in congestion cases, over any other latency or drop sensitive data, like voice chat or other non-ISP VoIP services. Network Neutrality affects fairness in all forms of competition online.

Re:Doh! (4, Insightful)

The_Quinn (748261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857620)

As long as connectivity providers are also application providers, any application they don't like is a potential candidate for connectivity problems.

As long as ISPs face potential competition, any connectivity problem is a potential candidate for "losing-customers" problems.

Of course, that depends on ISPs not being entrenched in their crony capitalist markets through special licensing, franchises, and subsidies - as bequeathed by your bipartisan fascist overlords.

Re:Doh! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30861346)

Of course, that depends on ISPs not being entrenched in their crony capitalist markets through special licensing, franchises, and subsidies - as bequeathed by your bipartisan fascist overlords.

Which will never change because landlines require right-of-way easements across large numbers of private properties in order to achieve reasonable levels of coverage.

Re:Doh! (1)

The_Quinn (748261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899232)

landlines require right-of-way easements across large numbers of private properties in order to achieve reasonable levels of coverage.

Which rational people seeking value will gladly work out privately (except you, apparently.)

Re:Doh! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30899390)

Which rational people seeking value will gladly work out privately (except you, apparently.)

Really? Name one, just one example, of an ISP privately negotiating right-of-way easements of any significant number in the USA.

Re:Doh! (1)

The_Quinn (748261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962280)

Name one, just one example, of an ISP privately negotiating right-of-way easements of any significant number in the USA.

Can you give me a list of ISPs that don't operate under government franchise, license, or subsidy?

I could walk around personally and get all the right-of-way agreements, but would I then be legally allowed to build the infrastructure? No, because government has a monopoly on infrastructure.

The fact that you lack the vision of how free people could live doesn't prove that free people would huddle in hovels without utilities and entertainment.

Not only would free people have cable, but the whole spectrum of entertainment options would blow the shit hole out of forced government network provisioning

Re:Doh! (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962360)

Can you give me a list of ISPs that don't operate under government franchise, license, or subsidy?

I could walk around personally and get all the right-of-way agreements, but would I then be legally allowed to build the infrastructure? No, because government has a monopoly on infrastructure.

The two are not mutually incompatible. The only reason that local governments are able to require franchise agreements is because the agreements include the right of ways. Nothing there to stop a company from privately negotiating all those right of ways on its own and thus being completely untouchable as a result.

It would appear that you are the one with the lack of vision.

Would Somebody Please Explain This ... (1)

smpoole7 (1467717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30860078)

... to conservatives? The seem to think that "Network Neutrality" is some form of "Fairness Doctrine" for the Internet.

I'm a conservative who is 100% in favor of ISPs not being able to limit my access to YouTube or Google. I'm having a hard time explaining this to Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh listeners, though. :)

Re:Would Somebody Please Explain This ... (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30861036)

... to conservatives?

The current predominate "conservative" movement is more interested in big business doing whatever it wants, so Net Neutrality is a threat. AT&T will have to spend more on their ISP and mobile network. Little guys will be able to displace existing large businesses (or at least take a chunk of their pie). I'm not saying that the democrats have a strong interest in protecting consumers either, but it's very clear where the neocons sit.

(this is more about our "leaders" and their mouth pieces and not about normal people)

It's also important to slashdot posters (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30857212)

If there is somehow delay in getting the comment to post, so many first posters will no longer be first anymore.

Re:It's also important to slashdot posters (2)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857222)

Made more fitting by this attempt of a first post not being first.

Other end of the spectrum (3, Interesting)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857350)

This really is the opposite end of the bandwidth-latency spectrum from the prominent players in net neutrality. Most MMORPGs will use about 5KB/s downstream and about 1KB/s upstream, even during particularly high activity events. That is not the kind of traffic that net neutrality discussions usually bring up. But even with that small amount of traffic, a player's game experience can be extremely hindered by latency. Different games will have different red lines, but I've found 500ms to be around the point most players will notice a negative affect on gameplay.

And this is definitely not a PC issue alone. I don't imagine Microsoft would be happy with a major ISP putting Xbox Live traffic at the bottom of the their priorities, or worse, charging customers additional fees to keep their Live latency at a reasonable level.

Re:Other end of the spectrum (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857374)

500? Maybe in an MMO, anything over 200 in an FPS is enough to get you kicked from most servers.

Re:Other end of the spectrum (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30858146)

500? Maybe in an MMO, anything over 200 in an FPS is enough to get you kicked from most servers.

I play TF2 quite a bit. It's not the amount of ping - it's how stable your connection is.

I've played with Aussies that had 300 ping, but they walk around smoothly and play decently.

Then one day I encounted a lagging scout with 25 ping. Every time I got near him to cut off his head, he'd disappear from under my blade. Apparently he was dancing to the side, but when he lags he stops moving until the packets catch up, then teleports to the new location.

His shots would catch up all at once, killing me instantly. Very irritating. It wouldn't be so bad if I was using a gun, since I could just shoot him whenever he paused, but I was using a sword, so I had a disadvantage.

We didn't have an admin to kick him, so I just got an ally to watch him and snipe him whenever he stopped moving. Didn't take long before his lag went away, and I could resume cutting his head off. ;)

P.S. My playskill seems to go up at 65 ping, and 140 ping. I must have the most experience at those amounts?

Re:Other end of the spectrum (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30858566)

Placebo effect, and the scout was actually cheating which is why he behaved like that.

Re:Other end of the spectrum (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30858600)

That sounds suspiciously like a lag hack, its a common cheating technique used in the game Tactical Ops.

On topic: I need a ping under 100 to play tac ops at all, and it only gets good at about 30. Its the only way to compete with the hackers in that game using legitimate skill.

Re:Other end of the spectrum (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30863966)

I was going to say I prefer under 50ms ping for most games... under 100 is playable and over 130 or so gets to be unplayable when playing with those under 50.

Re:Other end of the spectrum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30859036)

I love playing as a Medic with 140 ping. It makes me feel invincible.

Unfortunately most of the servers I play on ban at >150 because the lag compensation starts to get wonky over 100.

Updates (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 4 years ago | (#30859224)

Most MMORPGs will use about 5KB/s downstream and about 1KB/s upstream, even during particularly high activity events.

I think this depends on the MMO, but whatever the in-game speed require issue, and issue is updates.

Say for example a new patch comes out for WOW, and your ISP's filter sniffs the traffic then goes "OH NO, evil torrents, must throttle", causing it to go from 1500mbps down to about dialup speed, and your update takes about a day or more instead of less than an hour at THE SPEEDS YOU PAID FOR.

I've been using a lot of DLC myself these days, games from steam - for example - or CD-keys bought through online etailers and then used on the online-download version of games. At lot of these updates do use torrent-like connections, which malicious ISP's love to filter.

Heck, where I used to live, I had a third-party ISP used part of the last-mile infrastructure laid down by Bell (and Bell being legally required to share). My ISP was great ,Bell sucked. When I used to SSH to home from work or vise-versa, my connection would slow to a crawl as their shittily configured filters would assume I was trying to hide some high-bandwidth downloading. With a simple outgoing SSH connection, one could notice that other services would suddenly crawl until SSH finished (and no, it wasn't my equipment, everything worked fine when I before/after I moved and had a non-Bell-neutered ISP).

ISP's would love to be able to restrict speeds/access/etc unfettered, because that means that they could continue to advertise speeds they wouldn't realistically have to provide, or artificially restrict various accounts while charging an arm+leg for super-duper-premium access. While a little QOS isn't a bad thing, excess filtering IS, and I don't think that anyone would really except those ISP's to get off the gravy-train of sell-wayyyy-more-than-you-can-provide if they can avoid doing so.

Re:Updates (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | more than 4 years ago | (#30861644)

Actually it would be in the isp's interest people to use torrents as that would mean less traffic, also they would do well to host content servers in-house.
Say a Steam content server and a Blizz one, that way fewer traffic will be outbound from their networks and it would cost them less...
Then again people that make the policies in isps aren't known for their cutting edge decision making...

What about Private Servers? (5, Insightful)

Entropy98 (1340659) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857352)

One concern is that each and every game developer will need to negotiate with each and every ISP to ensure their traffic achieves acceptable levels of latency for users.

Or in the case of private servers (where they still exist), every private server (or private server hosting company) would have to negotiate separate deals.

is this not correct? (1)

maninalift (1563691) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857736)

I'm not sure why this comment has only been scored only 1, it seems a good point to me. Is it incorrect or just obvious?

Re:is this not correct? (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30861056)

I'm not sure why this comment has only been scored only 1, it seems a good point to me. Is it incorrect or just obvious?

It depends on if the traffic shaping is based on game-specific characteristic (less likely) or if it's based on point of origin (more likely). So yes, it's another pain.

Not any surprise (3, Informative)

enriquevagu (1026480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857378)

the surprise is that developers are concerned with latency, not bandwidth, unlike the members of many other net neutrality discussions

Actually, this is no surprise at all. Maybe most people only focus on the raw speed - i.e., throughput. However, for many applications, the latency - and the lack of sudden latency variations - is more important. These apps are called "inelastic", because they don't tolerate changes in the latency. For example: In a real-time VoIP application, sudden changes in latency make delayed packets useless and the voice gets cut. Yep, you can use a buffer, but that will add an anoying delay in your conversation, so in general the application is highly sensitive to latency changes.

The same happens with games. If you are playing against sb else, your latency can determine if you live or die. AND, the main problem is that the only solution comes from QoS mechanisms that tag, segregate and priorize different flows of traffic. What, I believe, is somehow against net neutrality.

Re:Not any surprise (3, Insightful)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857610)

qos is not against net neutrality if you respect the tag that *I* attach to the packets. it is if the isp unilaterally decides that traffic trough port 80 get prioritized or that the traffic not on port 80 get rate limited.

I wanted to reply to the /. thread... (1, Redundant)

app13b0y (767720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857398)

but my ISP keeps injecting TCP RE[NO CARRIER]

What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (2, Interesting)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857448)

I question whether the net should be truly neutral. Favoring Skype and game traffic for short latency wouldn't have much impact on the bandwidth available to streaming content but would certainly improve the quality of gaming and chatting. It seems to me that integrating a packet priority request into the TCP/IP protocol could work. Games and Skype could be given a high priority, browsing medium and torrents low. People who browse and torrent at the same time (or for some reason game and torrent) would have good reason not to override the default priorities. Anyone downloading GBs of data at high priorities by hacking the default settings could be noticed quickly sanctioned appropriately for being a**holes. It would relieve ISPs of excuses for throttling (or at least make the throttling more transparent and remove the need for privacy-invading deep packet inspection).

The key would be to integrate it into an open standard. I imagine the idea has already been put forth before, but it strikes me that it will be increasing important to have some priority control as the number of latency critical applications as well as streaming content size increases. It would essentially be an open implementation of the "power boost" that some ISPs offer but rely on user-side requests to sort out priorities. Of course, I have no real knowledge of the TCP/IP protocol so I have no idea if it's feasible or even if it's already implemented.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (4, Funny)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857504)

And I'll just flag ALL my traffic as high priority...

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857650)

there are separate flag for bandwidth and latency, one generally hinder the other so you are actually slowing the connection that way. (but it depends on the specific qos implementation)

also, you are prioritizing your traffic, but all your traffic is on the same priority with the traffic of the other people on the isp. imagine 10 clients and and isp that could only deliver 100 packets/ss, each client will have 10 packets delivered in any case, even if one client has all packed marked "high priority" and the other all marked "no priority". what gives then? if you have on the same channel a voip call and a download, and the voip call uses up to 7 packet/seconds and the download up to 15 packet/seconds, you can flag the voip traffic so that instead of having 5 packet second for each you prioritize your skype traffic over your download.

qos, when applied properly, is a wonderful piece of technology. too bad that most of the time isp messes up with their protocols to survive the massive oversubscription

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30859276)

what about video conferencing with a better camera than your 1.2Mpixel USB web cam? i'd count that as both high bandwidth(3+Mbps) and needing to be low latency(=100ms, preferably =25ms, it needs to be short enough you don't start talking over each other.) TBH i'd really like to be able to flag my traffic correctly. Bittorrent at high bandwidth, but at just about whatever ping 5000ms, WoW at "medium" bandwidth but 100ms, skype at low bandwidth but 50ms ping. That way i could run all 3 at the same time and not have to set bittorrent to only use 2/3 of my bandwidth. I have an incentive to set my own bandwidth correctly.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30859354)

Ok how bout this as a service tier for ISP's. For the sake of argument we're working with a cable company that can only offer 10 meg service like I have. Prices also reflect what i'm seeing from Charter (it's that or 768k dsl in my area). In true net-neutral fashion your ISP also includes a promise to never degrade service based on where the signal is going, only give you packets priority on their equipment based on protocol and how much you're paying them. If you decide to go all hacker on them and flag all your traffic as gaming high priority good for you, but you only actually get that first 512 kbps as high priority and the rest of it rolls into your standard and low priority, making your voip calls sound like crap.

My question then is can anyone come up with an argument against this kind of plan? I personally would love it, but my main use of the internet is web and gaming. I don't do a lot of heavy encrypted traffic, or any bittorrent.

Bottom tier: ($33 a month)
128 kbps priority low latency traffic for voip and gaming. Gets first dibs at the switch.
768 kbps standard priority traffic for http and pop.
1.5 mbps low priority traffic that they can delay and throttle as they please.

Mid tier: ($49 a month)
512 kbps priority low latency traffic.
1.5 mbps standard latency.
3 mbps low priority.

High tier: ($75 a month)
768 kbps priority low latency traffic.
3 mbps standard latency.
6 mbps low priority.

Enthusiast tier: ($99 a month)
1.5 mbps priority low latency traffic.
6 mbps standard latency.
10 mbps low priority.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (2, Informative)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857546)

I doubt it would be feasible, since it relies on somebody honestly telling them that certain packets deserve prioritization over other packets. It won't take long before everybody marks their packets "highest priority".

Besides, ideally, at some point most packets will be encrypted by default. You wouldn't WANT to be able to distinguish types of packets from each other.

How to limit abuse of high priority (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857960)

It won't take long before everybody marks their packets "highest priority".

Say you have 6 Mbps from the Internet to the home, and your downstream is 20x oversubscribed. Once congestion kicks in, the router starts limiting high-priority packets to 300 kbps so that other users' high-priority packets can get out. Applications that need the high priority, such as games and voice, can easily fit packets into this 300 kbps.

Re:How to limit abuse of high priority (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30859340)

lol 300Kbps just wait a year or two, "web" cams will be able to send out 2-3Mbps. Games and voice i agree with you, but what happens when/if video conferencing really takes off. That needs high bandwidth and low latency. Well high bandwidth for the current US connections.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30857626)

You're looking for Quality of Service (QoS). Been part of IP for a while now.

It supports a set of flags that can be on or off: Bulk (latency is unimportant but bandwidth is), low-latency (latency is important, bandwidth is not), low-price (packet should be delivered using the cheapest service possible) and I think there were one or two more but I can't remember them currently.

I'm not sure how many routers actually honor these flags, not many I think. Any way, abuse of the low-latency flag fails because on most network admin sites I've read, they strongly recommend filtering rules that only permit 100KiB of low-latency per minute per user, anything higher than that will get converted to Bulk or standard traffic instead.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30859428)

IP QOS covers many use cases. But it's implementation and set of classes may not be quite ideal. Here i describe the common modes I think an IP QOS replacement should probably have.

Most traffic should be at standard. Only specialty traffic should be marked otherwise.

There are a few types of other traffic though.

You have applications that require high bandwidth, but don't care about latency or jitter (variation in latency), and dropped packets are not too big a deal. Torrents are a prime example. I would much rather have 5% of my torrent packets dropped than 5% of almost any other packet. (Call this unreliable bulk)

You have applications that require high bandwith, but don't care about latency, though may benefit from low jitter, and where dropped packets are more important. A common example of this is adaptive bitrate streaming video. As long as you have enough bandwidth and few dropped packets, the latency really does not matter too much. If all packets are delayed by a constant amount, all packets will still arrive just in time. But jitter can cause problems resulting in dropping down to a lower bitrate, as can dropped packets. (Call this reliable bulk)

You have applications that require low latency, but also low bandwidth, and packet dropping is a problem. Games are the canonical example. I'm not really sure what the impact of jitter is on online games, perhaps they can tolerate a latency that varies, as long as it stays low enough, or perhaps that causes problems. (Call this low-latency)

Finally you have an especially problematic class of applications that require high bandwidth and low latency, and also have issues with packet dropping. These are applications like VOIP, or especially things like video conferencing. (call this say, Real Time).

If it were not for real time mode and reliable bulk mode it would be easy to set up a system where any attempt to game it would result in worse service than classifying things right. The following is how that could be set-up in the absence of that mode:

Unreliable bulk has no particular benefits worth attempting to game. Routers would attempt to keep bandwidth high for these, even if that means high latency. Any application willing to tolerate high latency and a reduced reliability in exchange for higher bandwidth than standard packets would be encouraged to use this.

Standard mode also has nothing worth gaming. It has lower latency than unreliable bulk, and would be more reliable, but may have a reduced sustainable bandwidth compared to bulk, since the router would be trying to keep reasonable latency on these packets, and would drop packets if reasonable latency for them cannot be kept (remember that dropping packets like that is expected, and is how applications determine the speed at which they can send packets.)

For low latency mode packets, the router would attempt to keep very low latency on these packets, but would maintain a fairly low bandwidth limit. In the event that the bandwidth utilized becomes too high the packets would be reclassified between standard and bulk. As a result, only low bandwidth applications would benefit from this classification, preventing it from being abused.

Obviously most of differences there-in would be most noticeable when there is network congestion. At other times the various modes would be rather similar. Also note that this model is nuetral, it does not care what is in a packet, where it is coming from, or where it is going. Any application can use whichever mode it wants to send packets, but there are tradeoffs for the different modes. None of the modes is superior to the others, they just have different trade-offs.

However, I have been unable to fit what I am calling real-time mode packets, and reliable bulk packets into this model in such a way that applications that don't need them would not benefit from marking their packets as such.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (4, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857662)

Favoring Skype and game traffic for short latency wouldn't have much impact on the bandwidth available to streaming content but would certainly improve the quality of gaming and chatting.

The hard part is implementing the ability to do that kind of prioritization internet-wide. I'm too lazy to go dig it up, but there was an analysis published a few years back that suggested any possible benefit of building 'smarts' into the network could be achieved simply by increasing the available bandwidth by roughly 30%. And that it was far cheaper to keep the network dumb, as it has been since pretty much the beginning of the internet, and just add capacity than it would be to add all the computative and buffering functionality required to make it smart enough to do prioritization reliably. (Its cheap and easy to do it unreliably, but if it ain't going be reliable, what's the point?)

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (2, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857776)

I'd like to see that study. Actually QOS seems like a better option if used properly. I could prioritise packets from things that are latency sensitive (Skype, Games and to a lesser extent HTTP) and de-prioritize ones from things that aren't (Torrents). I could imaging it working very well if the backbone supported it.

E.g. in USB isochronous streams and interrupt endpoints are allocated bandwidth up front they are handled at the start of a frame. Bulk transfers get whatever is left. So your mouse is guaranteed to be responsive even if you're copying a huge file to a disk. Adding capacity won't do this if you have applications that are designed to use all the capacity available. Like Bittorrent.

The classic case for throttling people is that you have a bunch of people with cheap and thus heavily contended connections. Once someone torrents they use up essentially all of the bandwidth to the point that Skype is unusable and even HTTP is painfully slow. People complain and the ISP decides to throttle Bitorrent. Of course this isn't quite right technically - really all the applications on the network should say truthfully what they actually need. Of course there's little chance of that happening - if the network supported QOS applications trying to Bittorrent would just lie to get better transfer rates. So you end up with the ISP throttling torrents. Now you could say that the ISP should reduce contention ratios. Actually they offer a range of contention ratios at different prices, the problem is that people who expect to max out their connection pay for the cheapest one.

It's actually worth pointing out that this case is not one that really supports "network neutrality". A neutral network right now would be saturated with bittorrent packets to the point where it was unusable for latency sensitive things like gaming. Even a QOS network that trusted users would. These guys would be happier if the ISP throttled bittorrent more aggressively so that there was always some spare bandwidth to be used for latency sensitive applications like games and Skype.

I.e. using the salad bar metaphor you have

A minority that must get at least one olive on their place every minute (the gamers, Skype users etc) vs a minority that will empty the salad bar regardless of size (the torrenters). It seems like the gamers would be in favour of reducing plate size - i.e. the salad bar equivalent of throttling. That limits the speed of torrents a bit but it makes latency sensitive applications keep working. It's still an all you can eat buffet of course, so long as they let you stay as long as you want.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1)

sahonen (680948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857722)

The problem is that this requires simultaneous cooperation from everybody at once, and you're also relying on application developers to not give themselves more priority than they really need.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (3, Insightful)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857730)

Anyone downloading GBs of data at high priorities by hacking the default settings could be noticed quickly sanctioned appropriately for being a**holes.

Some of us live in countries where video conferencing at high-end blu-ray quality is entirely feasible (54 Mb/s).

This will gobble down gigabytes of data at high priorities, and if we're using software that isn't widely available or even custom built, you're saying "fuck off, you're being an asshole".

A teleconference at those bandwidths would take up more than 20 GB/hour, and you said it yourself, Skype (and similar) require low latency

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30858140)

Then the problem becomes "Who gets to decide what traffic has high priority?"
Sorry if this is what you seriously think, but torrents are used for more than just piracy. Games, and this is coming from an avid gamer, really aren't more important than, well, almost anything. If we presuppose the net is going to be throttled, scientific traffic should have top priority.

But then again, it's a terrible idea to begin with.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30858492)

What exactly is "scientific traffic" and why does it need top priority. The only thing I could think of was scientists discussing science stuff, maybe some science programs, but what all do they have that they would need top priority.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30858200)

That's not really what Net Neutrality is about.

Net Neutrality prevents them from charging $0.25 for a 200MB video, but $0.00 for a 200MB download. All data has equal value, even if it has different priorities.

Your ISP is free to QOS shape all those things you listed, but they have to apply it to all their customers, and all the servers on the other end. If they offer a Gamer plan, it has to compete by offering more bandwidth, higher caps, etc.

Net Neutrality also prevents content blocking. Ex: A company wants to push its $15/mo IPTV on its customers, so it blocks Youtube unless it's paid $3/mo for access to it, or you have their TV plan.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 4 years ago | (#30859336)

That's not really what Net Neutrality is about.

Actually, it is part of net neutrality. Yes, financial endpoint agnosticism is the major issue that's being bandied about under the Net Neutrality banner. Yes, bandwidth endpoint agnosticism is a frequent visitor to the table. But honoring QoS needs is a portion of net neutrality that's rarely mentioned.

You say:

Net Neutrality also prevents content blocking. Ex: A company wants to push its $15/mo IPTV on its customers, so it blocks Youtube unless it's paid $3/mo for access to it, or you have their TV plan.

ISP A doesn't need to block Youtube to make it pointless, just muck around with the latency until it's jittery and a pain to watch. They can claim it's bandwidth is unimpeded and they're not demanding fees, but they're still clearly pushing their IPTV service by making it comparatively better. Talk to people in Canada about using skype or other VOIP services on some of the ISP's who are pushing their own VOIP products.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30858460)

If I'm paying for a 2 MB/sec data rate (vs connection speed), I expect to get 2 MB/sec. Regardless of traffic type. That means 2 MB/sec downloads (presuming the source can fill the pipe that quickly), or torrents, or whatever, in the middle of the day. This is no different than going to a gas station, paying for 10 gallons of gas, and expecting to get _ALL_ 10 gallons of gas pumped into my car's tank. Not 8 gallons "because we're really busy today".

I refute any cries of "You're a bad netizen, you greedy daytime up/downloader, you!" thusly: if my traffic negatively impacts other users, it's because the ISPs are defrauding myself and those other users, by selling more bandwidth than they provide.

Note also, if I pay for a 2 MB/sec data rate, and I have a 10 MB/sec connection, that does NOT mean I'm entitled to 10 MB/sec, and I'd have no complaint if my ISP limited my data rate to 2MB/sec.

QOS? I don't care what happens on the _customer's_ side of the demarc; if the customer is a business (or whatever), and they want to use QOS on their side of the demarc to more effectively use the bandwidth they are paying for, that's fine.

But to be "fair", all apps and transmission modes should be treated equally, both in data rate and latency, from demarc-to-demarc.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 4 years ago | (#30859102)

Those would fall under QoS manipulations. Streaming video, audio, and game packets require low latency. File transfer in the form of torrents, FTP, or HTTP are not latency sensitive. By acknowledging this and working within the bounds, most traffic congestion could be cleared up without negatively affecting anyone's service.

The problem, as shown by several posts, is that some people will try to force all of their packets to low latency QoS because 'fuck the system, me first' even if it hampers rather than enhances their actual service.

Re:What about an open standard for TCP priorities? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30859980)

Lets clarify the meaning of the word neutral:

Prioritizing Skype traffic would not be neutral. Prioritizing all real-time voice/video services would be neutral. This is called QOS (Quality of Service) [wikipedia.org] which is where applications that require low-latency get low-latency. And things like email or downloads get higher latency. That is totally fine, fair, and neutral.

The problem with QOS is administering it. Who can be trusted to do this? The ISP doesn't actually know what a packet is for. Deep packet inspection is expensive and inaccurate. In theory, the client software knows and can mark packets for prioritization. But then some jerk will mark all their packets as high-priority and screw-up the system. The IP protocol actually has QOS bits built-in to the header, but it is rarely used.

As a network neutrality supporter, my concern is ISPs making back-door deals to prioritize, delay, or filter traffic. Maybe Comcast makes Google searches faster than Bing! searches. Or perhaps EA games get higher priority than games from smaller studios. Worse yet -- what about filtering? What if negative stories about my ISP don't show in my search results! Or perhaps a pharmaceutical company pays my ISP to filter negative publicity about them, or block PACs who campaign against them.

No (2, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857458)

It's no surprise at all that latency matters more for games. I'd rather have a 10ms/1mbps connection to a server than a 100ms/10mbps connection, rather than a 600ms/60mbps connection.

Re:No (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 4 years ago | (#30861072)

You may have a decent solution to the Tragedy of the Commons problem - i.e. "mark all your packets as super-high-priority" issue. Instead of relying on folks to behave and properly tag their packets, give them a structured end-user QoS profile. Your plan includes 1Mbps of less-than 10mS latency traffic, and 100Mbps of greater-than 10mS latency traffic. You have a limited resource (kinda like your paycheck.) Spend it how you see fit. Enforcement occurs at the ISP's ingress point.

This would require some method of designating traffic priorities at the user's site. Each app would have it's own priority request, but you'd need a local "overlord" to handle the aggregate network connection. I wouldn't expect your game and your music streamer and your VoIP apps to negotiate amongst themselves.

Re:No (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30863620)

Yeah. I've always felt that internet connections should work that way. I mean, if I'm bit torrenting, I certainly don't expect to have very good latency inside of Quake or whatever, and it would even be fair for it to contribute to latency for perhaps an hour after my 50GB download finishes.

not only games... (2, Informative)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857466)

latency is also important for voice-over-IP...

Re:not only games... (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30859560)

Fuck VOIP if it interferes with ANYTHING else. I used to work for a shitty company where the head of telecom was on this big VOIP push - every time he talked on the phone, normal network activity slowed to a crawl, including file transfers from the server two stories below me. Ever since then it's been "VOIP sucks, if you want a free ride, that's fine, but dont expect the rest of us to give you special priority just because you're being a cheap ass."

but the users wouldn't tolerate it, anyway (3, Interesting)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30857666)

I hope I'm not naive to think that even if Net Neutrality goes by the wayside, that it probably wouldn't matter, anyway.  Users will flock to ISP's that don't play the game, and thus render any shenannigans pointless.

Of course, this would not be helped by the essentially monopoly or duopoly status of most ISP's these days.  So I'll take net neutrality if I can get it!

Re:but the users wouldn't tolerate it, anyway (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30858478)

What precise ISPs are you talking about? Most people in the US have only one or two options for broadband... if both of their options only provide nonneutral service... where exactly do you want them to go? Most people do not have the option of moving just to get access to a different broadband service.

I'm a big fan of competition myself, but there is *no* competition for US broadband service. Leaving it up to the "competitive" market in this case will allow large telecommunications companies to do what they have always done... charge high prices for subpar service. This should not be surprising, this is what all the economic models say will happen if you have a monopoly/duopoly situation...

Re:but the users wouldn't tolerate it, anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30860184)

Speakeasy
Verizon
Earthlink
Cavalier
Comcast
Believe WiMax
Xohm WiMax
Covad
and Satellite [ugh I know, but it's an option]

in my zip code

Re:but the users wouldn't tolerate it, anyway (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 4 years ago | (#30860638)

Which zip code is that?

I can get DSL, cable, and municipal wireless in Minneapolis, which puts me one or two up on a whole lot of the US. Right now, I'm getting broadband through the phone company. Since the municipal wireless doesn't offer some of the things I want, I get a choice between two businesses that rely on being natural monopolies, and couldn't spell "competitive service" if they used both hands and one foot.

Re:but the users wouldn't tolerate it, anyway (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30862552)

I don't even have a guess where you might live, but it's definitely not typical. Some cities might get that kind of coverage, but not the vast majority of the US.

Here in upstate New York, I have the choice of Time Warner (which I have now and it's... decent) or Frontier DSL, which is pretty terrible. I'm sure satellite and dialup are available, but I doubt any serious computer user will want to try those.

Re:but the users wouldn't tolerate it, anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30860662)

Your response makes no sense, given that he already covered the whole "people have no choice" point in his post:

"Of course, this would not be helped by the essentially monopoly or duopoly status of most ISP's these days. So I'll take net neutrality if I can get it!"

So, um, yeah. Work on your reading comprehension.

Re:but the users wouldn't tolerate it, anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30863988)

Hey, I modded you down because for some reason you think that you deserve a special font. You do not. Let your posts stand out on their own, not because your feel the need to change the font.

In other news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30858084)

a station wagon full of hard drives, great bandwidth, horrible latency, not so good for games.

Wait why no cap worries? (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#30858596)

Maybe these guys are out of touch, they worry about latency. Okay fine, I can see that. What about those of you in the US that are now getting tasty with download caps? Like other parts of the world get. The more bandwidth that's become available to the average consumer, the more games have been using it to their advantage. These are also the same companies/people pushing for digital downloads. Sad thing to say if I decide I want to download something, I need to plan ahead usually about 8-10 days before the end of the month. With 3 people here, 60GB doesn't go far enough.

Re:Wait why no cap worries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30863580)

[i]The more bandwidth that's become available to the average consumer, the more games have been using it to their advantage. [/i]
That simply does not seem to be accurate. Common top ten PC Games have only gone from approx 3-4kbps from the early days to 45kbps and even worse case low latency games max out at 80k this is hardly a huge jump or even a significant amount of udp data. What hasn't happened in the last 5 years in a lot of the north american isp's is any increase in the real average throughput, no matter what the peek claims are per customer, just ask those customers. Then the other issue of latency. From what I see it has reached new highs if as mentioned before that some think 500ms latency for games is acceptable, must be playing cards.

Re:Wait why no cap worries? (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864642)

Yeah I've been playing Unreal Tournament for years. A few years ago 35ms latency was normal, now I'm lucky to find a server faster than 150ms.

Re:Wait why no cap worries? (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864596)

>> Maybe these guys are out of touch, they worry about latency.

There's nothing 'out of touch' about concerns over latency.

My cox cable internet service can download big files really fast but it has terrible latency.
As an avid Unreal Tournament player I would happily trade half of my massive bandwitdth for a few milliseconds less latency to get an overall increase in gaming performance. UT doesn't generate much traffic at all but it is very time sensitive.

IT seems ISPs have a blind spot about gaming, their whole campaign is always about how fast you can download giant media files, which doesn't really bother me at all. I can't tell you how annoying it is though to be killed in-game by another player who has time to run up and shoot you before they even appear on your screen.

Why does mainland America get shitty bandwidth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30864574)

I live in Hawaii... in the sparsely populated countryside. There are 40,000 people in my town. For $35/mo DSL, I get 11mbit down, 1mbit up. It's great for hosting video game servers.

My friend lives in Oregon in a town of 120+ thousand people. The best he can get is 256mbit down, 256mbit up for $35/month. 3mbit cable is $60/mo. Why is this?

GPU Inadequacy (1)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30864964)

Most latency is caused by GPU inadequacy.

Greedy Corporations: the cause of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30869188)

I have been fighting this battle for years. Here are some salient facts:
      Only the last mile matters. The backbone is so fast that QoS is not needed there.
      No last mile ISP offers any sort of QoS. Benign neglect (of QoS on their networks) favors their own phone service offerings. Hopefully, you gamers are finally waking up to the fact that the lack of QoS also degrades your gaming experience.
      The cost of doing QoS on the last mile is nil, both in terms of equipment (all real routers can easily do it) and administrative costs.
      Doing QoS for VoIP and gaming would have minimal effect on other users. 100 kbps is more than enough bandwidth for VoIP and way more than enough for gaming.
      There is little or no competition on the last mile. The phone companies are truly evil monopolies and the cable companies are no better. And they both offer phone service that would be threatened by a viable (with decent QoS) VoIP phone service.
      We are all the victims of greedy corporations and stupid or corrupt government officials.

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