Re: [arch-d] A Public Option for the Core

Christian Huitema <> Wed, 12 August 2020 15:41 UTC

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To: Scott Shenker <>, Brian E Carpenter <>
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From: Christian Huitema <>
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Subject: Re: [arch-d] A Public Option for the Core
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On 8/12/2020 6:19 AM, Scott Shenker wrote:
> The world of today is very different from what it was in 1995, particularly in terms of the market forces at work. We discuss our reasoning for why our proposal might become a reality later in the paper (in a section called “Are We Crazy?”), and I would be interested in your reaction. Do you think the market forces we identify might lead to a different result now?

The market forces are leading to the "hollowing of the core". Last time
I checked, over 50% of the top Internet servers were served by a dozen
or less top ASes, belonging to large CDN or large content hosters, both
of which may well be providing their edge points and delivery networks.
Your paper does not address that.

It seems that you are very concerned with market players using access to
"the core" as a choke point to enforce their own version of "pay to
play". This has been an issue a few years ago, but I am not sure it is
an issue now. What I see instead is local ISP making arrangements like
"zero rating" with large content providers. This is a play with local
access bandwidth, not with core transit bandwidth.

We also have evidence of local ISP prioritizing access to Facebook,
YouTube or Netflix without any commercial arrangement with these content
providers. Apparently, the reasoning is that "ISP quality" is measured
by the populace as "can I easily stream this popular content", and so
ISPs use tricks to improve delivery of the most popular content and
compete with other ISPs. (I remember these discussions as part of the
MARNEWS workshop.) That kind of feedback loop is not affected by the
state of core transit.

> More generally, as an academic working on issues related to the Internet, I view it as my mission to identify designs and paradigms that would make for a better Internet, and to explore whether there are plausible paths to such eventualities. We recognize that our proposed change is a long-shot. In fact, almost all attempts to effect large-scale changes in the Internet (whether its design or its structure) are likely to fail.   My responsibility as a researcher is to not let that stop me, and my mission as a member of the Internet community is to try to make such changes happen, despite great odds. I hope that people on this list and elsewhere read this paper in that spirit.

Bravo! But then, what about a public option for the edge?

-- Christian Huitema