2006/08/29

"All You Can Eat" Buffets

Although the internet is not a truck, a post read today brings up the question of whether it can be likened to an 'all you can eat' buffet.

In "Net Neutrality...Pass the Ribs, Please", it is posed that in some ways the internet can be thought similar to an 'all you can eat' restaurant buffet. When the author of the post was in college, he and 25 friends went to a local restaurant and stayed for three hours, wiping out many of the foods on the 'all you can eat' buffet, and depriving other diners of a good meal. That was the last week the restaurant had an 'all you can eat' buffet.

The not-really 'all you can eat' concept was related back to the telecom standard practice of overbooking services. Apparently a normal telecom ratio is that they oversell in the neighborhood of 20:1, based on typical usage rates. Everyone is told they have unlimited usage, but in reality, if everyone in the country tried to use land line phone all at the same time, even that system would work very poorly.

The internet is somewhat the same way. You are told you have unlimited usage, but that only holds true until someone actually starts taking advantage of the unlimited service. VoIP, video, file-sharing and spam may be combining to start seriously approaching the physical limit of telecom bandwidth lines. And as the story of "Pass the Ribs, Please" illustrates, when someone interprets "unlimited" literally, the rules may change.

Overall, net neutrality still seems like a good thing, but this is the first logic against net neutrality that has made sense to me.

Here's the final weekly issues list for NEW NET's 29 August 2006 gathering:
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