Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Demon & prioritising gaming traffic: not a net neutrality issue


Demon have announced Demon Game Pro, a broadband service designed with online gaming in mind:
"The new, low latency service will prioritise gaming traffic and be ideal for serious gamers who want to achieve a competitive edge over other players. Demon Game Pro will provide a better gaming experience over standard products because of the lower network latency, improved ping times and 24 x 7 UK based support.  Demon Game Pro will offer speeds of up to 20Mb downstream and 1Mb upstream, a free wireless router, traffic prioritisation and free static IP address, crucial to maintaining consistent uptime during gaming as well as providing an option for users to host their own game servers."
Digital Society are quick to dismiss allegations that this is the thin end of the wedge in terms of net neutrality:
"A UK ISP prioritizing gaming traffic might sound like common sense to engineers and gamers, but it’s raising the ire of ignorant Net Neutrality proponents who buy into the myth that the “end-to-end” architecture of the Internet requires that all applications are treated equally."
The same article offers an analysis of the particular requirements of gaming too:
"Too many people wrongly believe that gaming is high bandwidth traffic when in fact it’s very low bandwidth like Voice over IP (VoIP) communications.  Gaming and VoIP take less than 0.1 Mbps so if a network carves out 0.2 Mbps for gaming and VoIP when needed, it frees up the remaining 2.8 or 5.8 Mbps of a typical broadband connection for other things without having to worry about the harmful effects of jitter and latency."
Also some interesting thoughts on who should pay, the end-user customer or the business to consumer (B2C) service provider:
"One of the key issue in the Net Neutrality policy debate is who pays.  The FCC majority in their proposal for Net Neutrality regulation believes that only the end-user should be legally allowed to pay an ISP for higher prioritization or enhanced access to content or applications...When the B2C website pays for the enhancement, it’s economically more efficient because it involves a single bulk transaction between site and ISP rather than millions of small 3 pound/month transactions between the end-user and the ISP.  The cheaper transactional costs ultimately saves the end-user money and this is precisely how Blizzard operates.  Blizzard pays the network operator for an enhanced and prioritized network so that the end user doesn’t have to endure the additional complexity and cost.  The minimal costs of the enhancement are embedded into the normal monthly service for World of Warcraft and the end user wins. Ultimately it doesn’t matter who pays because the end user ultimately bears the cost, but the market should determine or allow both economic models to thrive and the FCC or the government shouldn’t interfere and outlaw the more efficient business models that saves the consumer money and time."
This seems in keeping with the European Commission's thoughts on this issue, and if such a service doesn't compromise the services others can access in any meaningful or noticeable way (just as the new services described in Google & Verizon's proposal wouldn't or shouldn't), then what's the problem?

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