Service Provider / September 12, 2017

Visibility’s Crucial Role in the Repeal of Net Neutrality

A repeal of the U.S. net neutrality regulation on the horizon. What does this mean for carriers?

On May 18, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to move forward with Ajit Pai’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on “Restoring Internet Freedom” by rolling back net neutrality regulations. With this change, carriers will be able to tailor their plans to produce a wider array of offerings based on content provider requirements – whether these are for low-latency, high-bandwidth, on-demand video offerings or for non-latency sensitive, low-bandwidth applications.

One size needn’t fit all anymore – that’s one side of the coin.

On the flip side is: how to determine the correct transport for the content provider’s needs, and how to collect transport metrics and provide them back to the content provider. Both require visibility into the network and underlying traffic at the packet level.

Let’s look at the use cases:

  • Matching the right transport to the right traffic. A content provider may not need a low-latency link, but may require a lot of bandwidth. Sensing the traffic type can help to determine the best way to transport it. This can remove traffic from expensive, low-latency links and help a carrier fill older transports with correctly matched content. A good example of traffic for this application is social media.
  • Low-latency transport. A carrier may decide to offer their own pay-for services on the highest quality link. Services requiring very low-latency would comprise of real-time voice (VoLTE) or video (ViLTE) services that a carrier would offer themselves. Where there is available bandwidth, a carrier could offer the same premium bandwidth to third parties to underwrite their own costs.
  • Carrier’s carrier service. To satisfy service level agreements (SLAs) as well as distributed billing applications, carriers must monitor ingress and egress traffic at various points along the network to ensure correct billing – and service level metrics – for each carrier renting service on the carrier’s network.
  • Competitive differentiation. Delivering services that fit customers’ desires ties directly to a plan that suits their needs. Net neutrality allows certain content providers to ride on premium pipes – for which they pay a price premium – while giving other content providers an opportunity to ride on lower-quality pipes at a reduced cost. The ability to tailor plans to meet each customer’s needs allows everyone to adopt the services they want in the manner that best suits them.
  • Enabling new service offerings. Internet of things (IoT), connected car, virtual and augmented reality, these are all types of new service offerings. With the repeal of net neutrality, the carrier can now introduce rate plans that match the specific network and transport requirements of each. With a packet-level view of new services, a carrier can profit from one service while partially underwriting another to get it off the ground or to make use of available transports that are not full.
  • Visibility reduces monitoring burden. With low-cost service offerings, not every traffic type should be monitored with expensive analytic tools. Visibility can determine which traffic types, transports or even subscribers should be forwarded to the attached tools for analysis. This can reduce the cost of analytic services – with these savings passed directly on to the customer.

Clearly, visibility plays a large part in the repeal of net neutrality. Not only does it help carriers ensure they are providing the types of services content providers need and have contracted for, but it also helps content providers ensure they are receiving services at the metric levels they are paying for and expect.

Visibility enables carriers and content providers to establish a demarcation point that the industry can centre on – while at the same time helping carriers to differentiate their transport offerings and content providers to experience transport services and metrics tailored for their needs.

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