Issues about broadband congestion, caused by business agreements between broadband suppliers and backbone providers, have been raised in a study published by the Measurement Lab Consortium (M-lab). The study focuses on service providers in the U.S. but it is conceivable that the findings could affect Australian users as the Internet is a global network.
The findings in this study focus on the major players who provide Internet access to individuals and businesses worldwide.
The “Internet backbone” encompasses the companies that provide the routers and cable networks that enable the Internet to function. These providers are “upstream” from the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who connect users to the network. Backbone providers include organisations like Verizon, AT&T, Netflix, IBM and quite a few others.
The M-Lab study has drawn comments from Vint Cerf, a Google vice president and Internet pioneer, who said it was “the first work of its kind, using open data and reproducible methods to expose complex performance issues at scale”.
The study identifies traffic congestion and major performance degradation from early 2013 until early this year.
The major reaction to the M-Lab study points to the fact no specific business relationship was revealed. Broadband providers dispute the findings and claim the study failed to clearly identify the cause of congestion.
The study claims that the traffic congestion in New York and other cities abated as from February this year for all broadband providers.
Finally, industry experts assert that the solution to this problem rests with the implementation of neutrality regulations (net neutrality), a legal proposal which rests on the principle that ISPs and governments should treat all Internet data equally, and without discrimination against users, content, sites, platforms, attached equipment, and mode of communication.
The need for neutrality regulations is supported by The New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, M-Lab, Netflix and Google.