top ten things lawyers should know about the Internet: #5

April 20th, 2008 by kc

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#5: Thus the research community is in the absurd situation of not being able to do the most basic network research even on the networks established explicily to support academic network research.

This inability to do research on our own research networks leads to unresolvable contradictions in our field of “science”, including on the most politically relevant network research questions of the decade: what are the costs and benefits of using QOS to support multiple service classes, to users as well as providers, and how should these service classes be determined? Two research papers on this same topic contradict each other — Why Premium IP Service Has Not Deployed (and Probably Never Will) from Internet2 (the U.S. research and education backbone) and The Evolving Internet – Traffic, Engineering, and Roles from ATT — with neither paper offering actual network data, although the Internet2 paper claims to be based on data from the Internet2 backbone. The ATT paper uses unsubstantiated numbers from unvalidated sources on the web and a model and simulation construction with parameters arranged to prove the need for the kind of traffic management behavior that ATT lobbyists are trying to justify to regulators and their customers.

As with many other questions about network architecture, behavior, and usage, there are valid (i.e., empirically validated) inferences to make regarding QoS versus the alternatives, which could immediately inform telecom and media policy, but researchers are not in a position to make them.

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