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Equipment Makers Want Telecoms to Upgrade Networks

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 32 comments

Amidst press conferences from Apple and Nokia today announcing more devices that will tap already strained telecommunications networks, there's another narrative emerging – hardware manufacturers pushing for a dramatic revision to how we organize the Internet. Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent, two companies that help build the physical backbones of the Internet, each think they have just the idea to pitch big ISPs.

It's no secret that telecom companies do everything they can to keep customers from using too much data: throttling, packet inspection, global slow-downs, tier pricing and more are all strategies that these companies use to help manage the total bandwidth they have to carry and manage.

Huawei's proposal is that instead of the rocky relationship between content providers like YouTube, Amazon Prime and Netflix, the two powers could cooperate for mutual benefit. The company's CTO, Daniel Tang, suggests revenue sharing between the two. Content providers could stream as much HD quality video as they wanted, providing there were people willing to pay for it with ad revenue and subscriptions. In exchange, telecoms would have a bigger incentive to actually build out the requisite networks to support that higher data usage.

Some tiered pricing would probably be necessary, but it's certainly a novel approach. Instead of trampling on the concept of net neutrality, it treats content-heavy services as partners – not adversaries. Daniel Tang stresses that it would take work and that these services would need to add enough value to convince customers that this path is a viable option. If it worked, it'd have huge potential benefits in terms of service quality with the possible downside of increasing total cost to consumers.

Alcatel-Lucent's approach to this same problem is a bit different, focusing on more distributed networks and hardware to reduce the total draw on bandwidth resources. With crunched wireless spectrum and increasingly tapped-out network back-ends struggling to handle the rapid adoption of mobile, tablets and countless other Internet-ready "smart" devices, one option is to use a distributed network that takes the traffic and keeps it away from the core infrastructure unless absolutely necessary.

Fiber optic skeletons feeding to high-bandwidth, local wireless options would keep the Internet from becoming too centralized and relying on a handful of Internet Exchange Points or IXPs too much. Much like distributed power generation, these kinds of ideas carry with them a huge bonus to network security. Having many individual networks that connect where necessary protects consumers from terrorist attacks, power outages or any number of complications upstream.

In the end, both of these strategies and more may be necessary to keep network traffic from becoming too overwhelming. Projects like Google Fiber are excellent, but they are enormously expensive and full rollout of that infrastructure will be slow-going yet, especially in North America where the land-to-people ratio is relatively low.

Hopefully, we'll figure out something soon though, because I live in a downtown area, and during peak times I regularly find my Internet almost unusable – despite having the highest tier package available. I'm sure I'm far from alone here, too.

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  • 18 Hide
    clonazepam , November 3, 2013 1:44 PM
    Maybe in an alternate universe, money would go to upgrading networks. Not in this one though...
  • 11 Hide
    southernshark , November 3, 2013 2:51 PM
    The telecoms shouldn't get a dime. The reason that they don't upgrade and charge so much is because they are government created monopolies. The government could take away their monopoly status and let capitalism deal with these problems.
  • 10 Hide
    mforce2 , November 3, 2013 3:18 PM
    Well it's interesting but countries that should be highly developed have Internet connections that suck big time and are expensive too.
    In Romania one thing we do have is fast cheap internet and yeah, it's very nice to have 100 Mbps for 10$.
    It's all because one company invested in a fiber optic infrastructure and is very efficient.
    It seems to me that US telecom companies are a greedy and incompetent. Sure you can blame it on the low population density and other stuff but if you look for excuses you'll find them.
    What would be needed is real competition and willingness to bring fast internet to the people but some companies don't want to or they don't know how to.
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    rsktek , November 3, 2013 1:32 PM
    *Population Density is low
  • 8 Hide
    Krisk7 , November 3, 2013 1:40 PM
    ISPs should simply deliver what they have in their contract without even inspecting the content. It's like a post office demanding a share of your stuff because you send / receive more parcels.
  • 18 Hide
    clonazepam , November 3, 2013 1:44 PM
    Maybe in an alternate universe, money would go to upgrading networks. Not in this one though...
  • 3 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , November 3, 2013 1:58 PM
    wellcome to Romania, just purchased my new connection of: 1gb/s for 20$ / month without traffic limit...damn, i need to change my router =))))
  • 1 Hide
    John Bauer , November 3, 2013 2:26 PM
    Quote:
    "...during peak times I regularly find my Internet almost unusable – despite having the highest tier package available."

    This is because you have DSL, which was always a gimmick to begin with :)  Having to share your connection bandwidth with others, especially when most of those others are paying less than you, is a joke. Your ISP laughs all the way to the bank. Cable internet is far better, and at least in my area, you get *guaranteed* speeds higher than any DSL con can offer, for the same price or less. Plus if you have cable TV anyway, the wiring is already there and it'll appear on the same bill. Easy peasy :p 


    Unfortunately, with people like myself who find themselves surrounded by 1000's of acres of cornfield, DSL is all I can get.

    We don't even have cable running down our road. Everyone on the block has to have satellite TV.
  • 11 Hide
    southernshark , November 3, 2013 2:51 PM
    The telecoms shouldn't get a dime. The reason that they don't upgrade and charge so much is because they are government created monopolies. The government could take away their monopoly status and let capitalism deal with these problems.
  • 0 Hide
    h0llow , November 3, 2013 3:03 PM
    @JohnPMyers hate to say it.. but Cable is not a dedicated line either.. more traffic, the slower it goes. It's like a 2 lane neighborhood with a no outlet sign.. more cars, longer it takes, in a nutshell.. DSL is dedicated BUT they still go through other DSL circuits.. thus it's technically not dedicated either. Although my DSL very very rarely slows down. It's typically spot on the speed package I'm paying for.
  • 1 Hide
    h0llow , November 3, 2013 3:06 PM
    @JohnPMyers no disrespect at all by the way :)  but yeah. some areas will easily get some crazy high speeds on cable vs DSL. just depends on the area like you said. unfortunately where i live, cable is complete garbage.. when you see downloads hit 1.2mbps while dsl goes 2.6, it's disappointing that they dont upgrade their system where i'm at.
  • 10 Hide
    mforce2 , November 3, 2013 3:18 PM
    Well it's interesting but countries that should be highly developed have Internet connections that suck big time and are expensive too.
    In Romania one thing we do have is fast cheap internet and yeah, it's very nice to have 100 Mbps for 10$.
    It's all because one company invested in a fiber optic infrastructure and is very efficient.
    It seems to me that US telecom companies are a greedy and incompetent. Sure you can blame it on the low population density and other stuff but if you look for excuses you'll find them.
    What would be needed is real competition and willingness to bring fast internet to the people but some companies don't want to or they don't know how to.
  • 3 Hide
    thechief73 , November 3, 2013 4:40 PM
    Hey this is a crazy idea, but how about these companies that are generating insane profits from operating monopolies as southernshark has said. Take some of that money and upgrade these systems as they should have with market growth anyways. Instead they pocketed it, let the demand rise, and then wait till consumers are desperate enough to just get access the'll be willing to pay anything if they can. Just like how we pay taxes that are supposed to go towards upgrading and maintaining public infrastructure. Hmm.. That may just work. But nope, they have to find another way to charge us more mainly by artificially creating demand and then blaming us for using "too much"?!? of the service we pay for.

    I have AT&T DSL because cable costs are so high they are not affordable and those are the only two choices here. AT&T keeps raising prices. Tell me how internet access costs more as years go by with more paying customers for identical speeds? They just kept slicing up the same pizza for a decade. AT&T has over sold our area so the only speed available now is 756k DSL. You call and they try to get you to upgrade to U-verse which costs even more for the same speeds of the old DSL service, and on top of that you have to pay all they're ridiculous setup fee's. Its is no secret how bad the US internet is and why.

    Anyone that has ever called AT&T knows how bad of a company they are, I never had cable but I assume the same. Everything is your fault, and its all good on their end. But they'll gladly offer to check it out and charge you huge fee's for it.
  • 2 Hide
    walter87 , November 3, 2013 5:34 PM
    Services like Netflix have offered to make caching servers to ease the load on ISP's infrastructure. Not surprisingly, the ISP's refused. That is how out of touch they are. They would rather gouge their customers than offer a better service.

    They will hardly change due to the fact that most ISP/cable companies also own all the rights and content and know that they offered better internet services then they would greatly affect their cable services. If customers got decent speeds and bandwidth then services like Netflix would thrive even more and result in far fewer cable subscribers.

    At least give Google credit by trying to move the infrastructure forward. The other ISPs are either too stubborn or purposely delaying to expand. Google fiber may be expensive now, but they will put the pressure on current ISPs to compete again or risk losing share. Either way added competition will give people more options and hopefully better services and prices in the future.
  • 2 Hide
    fat_panda , November 3, 2013 5:48 PM
    First of all, it should be illegal for companies like Time Warner to throttle all Netflix traffic. If we pay for 20 Mbps, we should have access to all 20 Mbps, otherwise it's a complete scam.
  • 0 Hide
    MKBL , November 3, 2013 6:53 PM
    Quote:
    "...during peak times I regularly find my Internet almost unusable – despite having the highest tier package available."

    This is because you have DSL, which was always a gimmick to begin with :)  Having to share your connection bandwidth with others, especially when most of those others are paying less than you, is a joke. Your ISP laughs all the way to the bank. Cable internet is far better, and at least in my area, you get *guaranteed* speeds higher than any DSL con can offer, for the same price or less. Plus if you have cable TV anyway, the wiring is already there and it'll appear on the same bill. Easy peasy :p 


    "This is because you have DSL, ..."

    1. I didn't know DSL has tier pricing.
    2. Such a tech writer would have known DSL is not the best choice. He or she would exhaust all other options before going to the "gimmick". And surely doesn't need someone preaching about it. It's probably like a high school physics club freshman trying to teach gravity to Albert Einstein.
    3. By the context, when the writer said "the highest tier package available.", he most likely have real high speed internet. At least I would not write that way if I have DSL.

  • 2 Hide
    azgard , November 3, 2013 7:54 PM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    "...during peak times I regularly find my Internet almost unusable – despite having the highest tier package available."

    This is because you have DSL, which was always a gimmick to begin with :)  Having to share your connection bandwidth with others, especially when most of those others are paying less than you, is a joke. Your ISP laughs all the way to the bank. Cable internet is far better, and at least in my area, you get *guaranteed* speeds higher than any DSL con can offer, for the same price or less. Plus if you have cable TV anyway, the wiring is already there and it'll appear on the same bill. Easy peasy :p 


    "This is because you have DSL, ..."

    1. I didn't know DSL has tier pricing.
    2. Such a tech writer would have known DSL is not the best choice. He or she would exhaust all other options before going to the "gimmick". And surely doesn't need someone preaching about it. It's probably like a high school physics club freshman trying to teach gravity to Albert Einstein.
    3. By the context, when the writer said "the highest tier package available.", he most likely have real high speed internet. At least I would not write that way if I have DSL.



    It sure as hell does in rural land, speed and prices are all relative to how much the telecom's can drain from customer's. Out by me 'high speed internet' starts at $40 for a 512 line, costs us $60 for a 1mbit line (we only actually get 896). No competition mean's no incentive.
  • 0 Hide
    ChromeTusk , November 3, 2013 8:08 PM
    So much can happen "behind the scenes" with network infrastructure: poor future planning, retro-fitting new tech into the old tech, and convincing management what needs to be completely replaced.

    I remember having the "same" DSL service years ago at two different locations. The first one was awesome (fast, stable, reliable). The second was great as long as it did not rain. The wiring between my place and the CO needed to be replaced because it was so old. A similar incident happen with cable: a wiring fault between my neighborhood and the CO caused intermittent failures with no common causes (time of day, weather, number of people online, ...).
  • 0 Hide
    digiex , November 3, 2013 9:10 PM
    ... and Huawei will riddle its hardware with backdoor and China can spy any netizen connected to the internet.
  • 0 Hide
    footlong96 , November 3, 2013 9:30 PM
    1996 telecommunications act.
    What is this about add revenue? They want more money?
  • 0 Hide
    Thomzey , November 3, 2013 10:17 PM
    it would be great if i could have fiber in my town in nz before the next 5 years, its only in the bigger cities and not getting into towns. They don't even have to do much because there is already a fiber cable feeding the town with internet and i know that it costs a lot to lay down but with the price of $130 a month for 150GB you would think they would have enough money to lay it down in everytown. That being said, we dont really need it because the speeds of most towns are between 10-15Mb/s and its enough for just ONE Full HD stream, but it would be nice to be able to have it if you have the money, because we all know the companies have the money for it.
  • 1 Hide
    Avus , November 4, 2013 5:47 AM
    "... and Huawei will riddle its hardware with backdoor and China can spy any netizen connected to the internet. "

    And the American government will do the same without even need to riddle any hardware...
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