[e2e] traffic engineering considered harmful

Bob Smart smart at hpc.CSIRO.AU
Tue Jun 12 17:02:28 PDT 2001

> Why isn't this the Tragedy of the Commons waiting to happen?

Proposal: the Guerilla Internet.

The Internet is divided into Blobs which might be: a PPP link,
an ISP, a backbone service provider. 

Each blob puts out quotes for service and receives payment based
on those quotes. The payments will specify what packets they are
for: source range; destination range; QoS; maybe others.

With appropriate payment technology [I have one that is fairly
well tuned to this] then the payer never has a large account. The
money flows continuously. It is kept positive by a callback
mechanism. The provider calls back with usage information and
to indicate when money is low for particular sorts of packets.

Initially ISPs would keep accounts with backbone providers and
end users would just pay their ISPs as now. However later it would
be possible for users to cover their own costs all the way, and
to use loose source routing to pick backbone links with particular
properties: cheap / fast / reliable.

I guess we would need a new ICMP: unfunded packet.

Some nice things happen in this model:

When there is a DoS attack then somebody suddenly gets a lot of
"need to top up account" requests. Hopefully the software doing
that will then raise alarms. It will then be possible for the
payer to start specifying payments that cover all packets except
those in the attack, which will then get dropped.

If somebody wants to broadcast free to air style then they can
cover the cost of their multicast packets on all links. End users
can then receive those broadcasts for free and the broadcaster
can recover the costs in other ways (e.g. advertising).

At the other extreme, service providers might not pay any of the
costs of their packets and the users will have to cover the
packets to and from that service on all blobs. This will the
overcome the current situation where it is very expensive to
provide a popular public service. This will enable unfunded
volunteer run services.

Why do I call it the Guerilla Internet? Well suddenly it is worth
while to provide a new link. Whether you put up a satellite or
just run an ethernet cable across to your neighbor so they can
share your DSL link, you can charge and recover the cost of that
without the need to be in some monster vertically integrated
service provision arrangement. We can bring a market free for
all to Internet service provision. It would be a mistake to
underestimate the positive results of doing this. It would be
a mistake to underestimate the costs of the current arrangement.
In particular the current zero marginal cost of packets and
services is a key reason for DoS attacks and SPAM.


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