One theme common in this industry has always been to watch as the same old thing is trotted out, lauded as revolutionary, advertised as the “solution” that will “fix” the problem, bought by the many who need their shortcomings addressed and then banked on as though this innovation will be the cure all forever.

This is not something that I only point out only in others, I have caught myself doing this same thing all to many times. In spite of the fact that back in 1995, more users were signing up for Internet service everyday and that an increasing number of web pages were being added to the web, many of this industry’s professionals simply chose to ignore the fact that the web was growing at an unprecedented rate. Sure, dialup ISPs understood this and the ILECs were dancing for joy at the number of PRIs they were deploying, not to mention T1 lines, but the realization of what was actually happening was lost on almost off of us, including yours truly. The reality was, the way we all communicate was about to go through a dramatic change.

Even more to the point, many of these tools were terms that most of the people in the world were not familiar with. While almost everyone had heard of Email, services like Instant Messaging, RSS, Social Networking sites were and ARE still foreign to many of the people now using the net. Heck, I would be willing to bet that most of the people my age have no idea what Twitter is or how it would be used to their benefit. But these are the end users that I am referring to – not the professionals.

I expect better from the people who we entrust our most critical infrastructures to, communications being at the top of that list, as well as transportation, energy with food and water distribution being first and foremost.

But the communications industry has managed to create such a level of groupthink that the damage they may cause, if this ignorance is not addressed, will take decades to undo.

Any child that ever played with a Walkie Talkie understands there are inherent disadvantages to using a half duplex communications tool in a full duplex application – like voice. The very idea of having to use a word like “over” to allow the other party you were talking to a clue that you had finished talking and that they could reply seems absurd and inefficient in today’s world – yet a portion of the Internet was built to reflect this type of usage. Now, no matter what you think about the POTS network, one thing it did do very well was to provide a full duplex voice communications experience – one that became the standard we used to measure everything else by.

Looking back, asymmetrical and half duplex communications were fine for a lot of the applications that were being run at the time. I would request a web page and it would be delivered to me, all in its own sweet time, but there was no real need for two way dialog during those transactions. Email – same thing.

Then came P2P, and VoIP with VoIP’s big brother Telepresence – and the world changed. Did our service providers? No, not really, there was a LOT of money invested and making any real change would have meant going back to the investors and telling them you were wrong – something nobody relishes having to do. One very notable exception is Verizon, and their commitment to Fios. While I honestly didn’t believe they could pull this transition off, they have more than met my expectations and done what seemed like the impossible. I still don’t believe they are out of the woods yet, this is a huge investment and I believe they have predicated their ROI on numbers that might not be there three to five years out but let’s give credit where credit is due.

Too bad we can’t say the same for many of the other providers.

Lately we have been discussing Comcast’s “network management” as they try to come to grips with the reality that their network cannot handle all the traffic that is being thrown at it. This is not a problem inherent only on Comcast’s network, AT&T seems to be having the same problems and don’t look too closely at the Cell Phone providers – that’s an area not for the timid.

In the final analysis, much of this can be attributed to greed – any decent network engineer would tell management to shut off allowing new customers to be added once the network appears to become overloaded but most CEO’s are more focused on the bottom line, in the short term and market share is more important having a solid network.

But now the invoice we will need to pay for such foolishness is about to come due and while the amount is going to cause pause, the pain is going to be spread all over. Only a fool misinterpreted the fact that demand for bandwidth was growing year over year. Only someone intentionally remaining ignorant would misjudge what the addition of high-definition video and applications like Telepresence were going to do to the demands for more bandwidth and it appears that these people are about to pay for that incompetence.

You want to claim that P2P is the problem and you NEED to block it – why you go right ahead. In fact, why don’t you go to the FCC and tell them you need relief – and that if you don’t get it, your network is quite possibly going to crash. I invite you to do this because P2P is only one of your problems, no, actually more of a symptom than anything else. The real problem is that you built your network in such a way that you cannot keep up with what was well know as being a ever-increasing demand.

In plain English, you failed – or more correctly will fail, and probably quite soon.

Let’s turn to the License Exempt Wireless Industry for a look at a group that has built networks using inexpensive, half duplex radios and now is crying that P2P is a scourge on their networks. According to Om Malik P2P isn’t anywhere near the problem many people are making it out to be.

The P2P stats are the ones that came as a complete surprise. Like you, I have read many reports that suggest P2P applications account for the majority of the traffic on high-speed networks. But McPherson’s data suggests otherwise:

20 percent of traffic is P2P applications

During peak-load times, 70 percent of subscribers use http while

20 percent are using P2P Http still makes up the majority of the total traffic, of which 45 percent is traditional web content that includes text and images. Streaming video and audio content from services like YouTube accounts for nearly 50 percent of the http traffic. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone — streaming TV shows from Hulu and videos from YouTube have been on a major upswing, as noted by our colleagues over on NewTeeVee.

During the plague, it is said that cats and dogs were exterminated in massive numbers as it was believed that they spread the disease. A later theory proposed that this action exacerbated the situation as the cats and dogs were the natural enemies of the rats who were carrying the fleas that did pass on the infection.

In today’s version of this level of misrepresentation, we have ISPs blaming P2P traffic when the fault lies in the artificial scarcity of the upstream connection, making it too expensive for this traffic to pass – well that and the fact that many have invested their all into building networks that are no longer capable of doing the job required of them.

As many of you know, we made the decision to close up our ISP and one of the foremost reasons was that we believed the business model could not support what needed to be supplied to the customer in the longer term. That was a painful decision, one that I can empathize with anyone who will eventually have to admit that to themselves.

Change or fade away – there are no other choices…

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