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Networking The Internet United Kingdom Games

UK ISP To Prioritize Gaming Traffic 196

Posted by Soulskill
from the facilitated-fragging dept.
nk497 writes "A UK ISP is now offering a broadband package just for gamers, which will prioritize their traffic to give them an edge over rival players. Demon Internet has also set up direct networks with gaming companies to boost speeds, and is promising lower latency and a higher usage cap than standard packages. 'Looking at the usage of gamers, it's actually more akin to a small business,' the company said. While paying to get specific content streamed more quickly may worry net neutrality campaigners, Demon says it has enough capacity for its own customers and that's who it's looking out for."
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UK ISP To Prioritize Gaming Traffic

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  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:37PM (#33328112) Journal

    This prioritizing of gaming traffic would be illegal if Net Neutrality existed.

    You see how seemingly "good" laws can cause unintended and harmful consequences? (Lord save me from do-gooders trying to save my soul, or impose their morals upon me.)

  • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:40PM (#33328136)
    LOL wut? Net neutrality would prevent this, yes, but it would also prevent ISPs from holding you hostage for not paying up. I get that you're a Libertarian and it's all ZOMG gubment doin' stuff, but give me a break. The suggestion that what we have now works is as laughable as it is wrong. At bare minimum there needs to be rules to ensure that things are conducted in an above the board fashion.

    Additionally, this is in a sense a method of cheating, you're putting down extra money to have an in game advantage, It doesn't take a genius to see that it puts pressure on other players to pony up for it as well, whether it would otherwise be necessary or not.
  • Prioritize? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garyisabusyguy (732330) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:42PM (#33328150)

    Prolly more like "Not intentionally slowing down"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:44PM (#33328156)

    Generalize QoS, you idiot. If the packet is marked to reduce latency, respect that, out to some cap per month or so. That way, it doesn't matter if it's a game or SSH.

  • by klingens (147173) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:44PM (#33328160)

    Let's create preferred lanes for Mercedes, Lexus and BMW drivers. After all, these people paid a lot more than Al Bundy for his Dodge and they pay more taxes as well. So it's entirely fair they get preferred treatment and lower driving latency (get to their destination faster). They're businessmen and women, so their needs are different from the normal people. We still have enough other roads for all the other drivers, don't worry.

  • by Rising Ape (1620461) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:45PM (#33328164)

    If they had enough capacity on their network to avoid congestion, they wouldn't *need* to prioritise anything. This appears to be running a poor network, then charging more to compensate for it.

    Shame, Demon used to be a decent ISP in the 90s.

  • by squidfood (149212) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:46PM (#33328168)
    Um, despite the "worry over net neutrality" cited in the article, the actual service just looks like they're repackaging a higher speed/business connection as a "gamer" package. Nothing there actually says that your connection will be slower by packet category.
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples.gmail@com> on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:46PM (#33328176) Homepage Journal
    I see it as more of a QOS feature than as a neutrality violation for two reasons:
    • The service is between the ISP and its customer, not a bribe paid by a customer to someone else's ISP.
    • It's sensitive to protocol (e.g. gaming vs. HTTP/HTTPS/etc), not to the identity of the party on the other end (e.g. MSNBC vs. Fox News or YouTube vs. Dailymotion).
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples.gmail@com> on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:48PM (#33328182) Homepage Journal

    This appears to be running a poor network, then charging more to compensate for it.

    Or perhaps running a poor network at first, planning an improvement to the network, and financing the upgrade wiht a premium package targeted at early-adopting gamers.

  • by airfoobar (1853132) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @06:51PM (#33328198)
    Paying £3 to get something extra doesn't sound too bad. What worries me is that ISPs may quietly start crippling their default packages so they can sell "extras". For example, this ISP could artificially raise the latency of normal users' connections, and when anyone complains they might say "it's because we give priority to the more expensive packages -- if you want better latency you must also pay more". You might say "meh, that'll never happen"... But, this is exactly the sort of thing our ISPs are infamous for doing here in the UK.
  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:03PM (#33328276) Homepage

    This prioritizing of gaming traffic would be illegal if Net Neutrality existed.

    Would that be such a bad thing? Instead of prioritizing gaming traffic over other kinds of traffic, or doing the same for VOIP, or YouTube, or whatever else an ISP decides is more important than other protocols, why not adopt a QoS scheme that ensures equitable access to available bandwidth while allowing customers to set their own priorities within those equitable access constraints?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:03PM (#33328280)

    Man, I wish all ISPs would throttle you to 1kb/s. A cunt like you deserves no more than that. I hope they do so for a price that would make an assraping seem agreeable.

    I am also glad that a lack of net neutrality law means that it would be perfectly fine to do so.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:06PM (#33328302) Homepage

    Generalize QoS, you idiot. If the packet is marked to reduce latency, respect that, out to some cap per month or so. That way, it doesn't matter if it's a game or SSH.

    Exactly. If we let ISPs decide for us which packets are more important than others, what's to stop them from favoring popular games while ignoring the rest? It's not as if all games use the same protocol, so instead of optimizing the network for particular applications or protocols, why not optimize it based on particular needs?

  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:09PM (#33328322)

    Prioritizing based on source or destination would be a problem under Net Neutrality but prioritizing based on protocol etc isn't necessarily unless it's to try to degrade a competitors products(like a phone company which is also an ISP intentionally degrading VOIP).
    NN doesn't stop you pushing VOIP packets through faster than FTP or UDP faster than TCP.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:20PM (#33328380)

    With your logic, paying for the best CPU and GPU "is in a sense a method of cheating".

  • by jc42 (318812) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:32PM (#33328456) Homepage Journal

    If we let ISPs decide for us which packets are more important than others, what's to stop them from favoring popular games while ignoring the rest?

    Hey, that's a nice little MMPORPG you've got there. It'd be too bad if it weren't playable because the players of other games have soaked up all the bandwidth. Y'know, for a small monthly gratuity, we could make sure that didn't happen to your game. Whaddaya say?

  • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:37PM (#33328474) Homepage

    Prioritizing based on source or destination would be a problem under Net Neutrality but prioritizing based on protocol etc isn't necessarily

    Since most games run their own protocol, it's effectively the same. So the WoW protocol gets prioritized and the Age of Conan protocol does not, it works out to exactly the same as a src/dst filter.

  • by AaronMK (1375465) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:56PM (#33328548)

    "I see it as more of a QOS feature than as a neutrality violation"

    I have QOS on my router. Why should I have to pay an extra fee for it. If they are not overselling their network, they should not need to prioritize traffic to get the performance for which they are charging this extra fee. If this stopped at being a service fee for setting QoS on a single customer's connection for the services of their choice, and it did not include peering agreements guided by specific types of services for which they are charging consumers a premium, I might agree.

    The service is between the ISP and its customer, not a bribe paid by a customer to someone else's ISP.

    I could be "someone else" on the same ISP. So yes, that is "bribing" for priority on "someone else's ISP". Besides, Net Neutrality rules don't distinguish between who is paying, or whether that other network happens to be an ISP, a corporate network, or even someone's home network.

    It's sensitive to protocol (e.g. gaming vs. HTTP/HTTPS/etc), not to the identity of the party on the other end (e.g. MSNBC vs. Fox News or YouTube vs. Dailymotion).

    Comcast degrading BitTorrent traffic (that's protocol based, not "identity" based) was a Net Neutrality violation. Favoring specific applications IS a Net Neutrality violation, unless it falls under "reasonable network management". As I said before, if they are not overselling their network, they should not need to prioritize. Reasonable network management would be limited to times of unusually high spikes in traffic, and would be a fail-safe for time sensitive or safety critical services, not for people who have paid for some special prioritization.

  • Re:Citation Needed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @07:59PM (#33328562)

    Is there any evidence that what would actually be enacted is this way, or are you like most Net Neutrality proponents who make up their own rules and decide that must be what NN means?

    It's still very much up for debate, and will be until it get's passed by the Congress, at least in the US. I think there are two pertinent points to be discussed here in regards to NN:

    1. Does prioritizing traffic compromise the spirit and principal behind NN if it does not degrade others service?

    2. Would it possibly be better to implement a QOS scheme that allows customers to prioritize whichever traffic is most important to them?

    My personal answers are:

    1. Not necessarily.
    2. Yes

    I will be contacting my elected representatives and the EFF with my views. I recommend you do the same.

  • by 3vi1 (544505) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @08:03PM (#33328578) Homepage Journal

    1. QoS doesn't speed up any traffic. It drops un-prioritized traffic in favor of the priority stuff, when the link nears saturation. So, if your neighbor buys into this - it inevitably means slowing down *your* traffic in favor of his (even if you're no where near your speed cap). That's not neutral - it effectively penalizes you for not using the internet in the way your neighbor does.

    2. QoS does often involve identifying the other end of a conversation. Sometimes apps will negotiate a random port, or just tunnel traffic over port 80, and there are no PDLM's for most game protocols. Classifying the traffic based on the server endpoint is sometimes the only option.

    3. How is an ISP supposed to know about every online game? They may have a list of thousands, but it won't be complete. Games they know about are going to get prioritized over the ones they don't - effectively punishing users of PC games in favor of XBox Live and PSN customers . Again, that's not neutral.

  • by vux984 (928602) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @08:38PM (#33328698)

    This prioritizing of gaming traffic would be illegal if Net Neutrality existed.

    No. Actually it isn't necessarily a violation of net neutrality at all.

    Net neutrality (as understood by most rational people) is violated when someone who is NOT a customer of the ISP gets charged for better access to the ISPs customers. e.g. throttling google traffic but boosting bing traffic becasue google didn't pay and bing did.

    Yes, there are some nitwits who try and conflate net neutrality as being in conflict with QoS or Tiered ISP service levels like offering (slower lite vs regular vs higher speed connections), etc, etc, but that's not the "net neutrality" that net neutrality advocates are interested in.

    There is nothing wrong whatsoever with CUSTOMERS paying to have their traffic, or some subset of their traffic given priority. And in fact I EXPECT customers to be able and willing to pay for faster speed for their traffic within their ISP.

    You see how seemingly "good" laws can cause unintended and harmful consequences? (Lord save me from do-gooders trying to save my soul, or impose their morals upon me.)

    You see how conflating two network management issues that are unrelated creates FUD about the unrelated issue? People like you are as bad as the do-gooders.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:17PM (#33328870)

    but an ISP could just prioritize all UDP packets

    And that will be the day all torrent software implements a new option: UDP instead of TCP for file transport.

  • Re:Prioritize? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Saturday August 21, 2010 @09:26PM (#33328906)

    other businesses around the globe do this sort of thing on a regular basis

    *Monopolies which design their systems to run poorly with competitors products.
    *Major phone companies which threaten to not allow their customers to call certain businesses (or threatens to make the lines really crackly and poor)who are connected through different phone companies unless the business in question pays them extra as well.
    *Manufacturers which pay suppliers to not carry their competitors products or delay their competitors products.

    Oh wait.
    That sort of thing is generally already illegal.

    Ski Resort? equivalent to getting a T1 rather than dialup. nothing to do with NN. If the tour bus driver who brought the customers there insisted that the ski resort pay him or he'd take them elsewhere that would be a better analogy.

    Airports? Again T1 rather than dialup. nothing to do with NN. Perhaps if the Airlines expected the hotels near the airports you were going to to pay extra or else they'd take you elsewhere.

    Toll roads? Again T1 rather than dialup. nothing to do with NN.

    medical insurance? makes not even a little sense.

    snazzy clubs? can actually be illegal in some countries already, discrimination based on sex.

    Retail businesses? Again T1 rather than dialup. nothing to do with NN.

    Web sites? Again T1 rather than dialup. nothing to do with NN.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:10AM (#33330206)

    So they're using their position in one market(as an ISP) to give themselves an advantage in another market(VOIP provision)?

    No, you aren't paying them for a VOIP service, you're paying them for a DATA service. Just because you chose to run a VOIP application over your DATA service doesn't mean they should give your DATA traffic the same priority as a VOIP service which is sold as a VOIP service.
    Why should your DATA traffic which you use for a voip phone get any kind of special treatment over the DATA traffic I use, simply because I'm listening to music? That would be a NN violation.

    If I want to go to my ISP and ask for a dedicated bandwidth connection, I can pay for one. If I want to ask them for a circuit with a specific maximum latency I can pay for one. Neither one of these ideas violates network neutrality, even if my ISP ends up running those circuits over the same data trunk that 'normal' traffic flows over- but in order to give me what I paid for they will use a combination of traffic prioritization, bandwidth restrictions on VLAN's and LSP's, etc.

    Many people don't understand that there is a VERY distinct difference between paying for an "Internet connection" and paying for an actual data circuit, and most people who are bitching about NN being violated are trying to do something (or expecting something) from an "Internet connection" which should really be done with an actual data circuit.

    People who don't understand NN properly usually don't understand networking properly to begin with. If we use the (tired) analogy of the "information superhighway", you could consider the average home connection to consist of 3 lanes of traffic that everyone shares. A dedicated connection is like buying your very own lane on the highway. The priority setting as described in the story would be more like a Toll-only lane. In some cases it would be like a Toll-road, where it might take a shorter or faster path to a common destination.
    In this analogy, a company violating NN would be stopping or reducing the speed limit for cars in the "everybody" lanes even when they aren't full.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2010 @04:49AM (#33330312)

    I have QOS on my router. Why should I have to pay an extra fee for it.

    Because that controls the qos within YOUR network, not other people's networks, and you don't have to pay anybody anything to use it.
      The prioritizing they are speaking of doesn't happen at your router anyhow, it happens once you hand your data to them. NO network on the planet which is worth a crap listens to ANY qos information sent from a 3rd party network- not only would it make no sense & defeat the purpose of qos, it could (in some cases) be an actual security risk.

    If they are not overselling their network, they should not need to prioritize traffic to get the performance for which they are charging this extra fee.

    Ah, yes. Once again someone paying peanuts for a common "internet connection" style account, who in reality wants a dedicated bandwidth (or possibly even an entire circuit), but doesn't want to pay the price for such a connection, bitching about an ISP "over-selling". Guess what- the road outside your house is "over-sold", and so are the check-out lines in the supermarket. Do you have ANY idea how much your internet would cost a month if your ISP had enough bandwidth to let you run wide-open 24/7? A lot more than anybody would be willing to pay for it, that's how much.

    Besides, Net Neutrality rules don't distinguish

    Net Neutrality is not defined formally, and so the definition gets changed to suit the rant of whomever is posting at the time. Most people who understand networking will define NN as "Treating everybody with the same type of account equally" and "not intentionally degrading or blocking a competing service" and "not using their position as a means to filter, monitor, or block activity which might be illegal, unsavory, or otherwise undesirable to the ISP for NON-TECHNICAL reasons".

    Comcast degrading BitTorrent traffic (that's protocol based, not "identity" based) was a Net Neutrality violation.

    Comcast wasn't "degrading BitTorrent" traffic, they were actively hacking the data streams of their customers (and off-network connections as well) and injecting false data. The only reason why the throttling of the bit-torrent protocols was a violation was because they were doing it even when there was not a bandwith crunch.

    Favoring specific applications IS a Net Neutrality violation, unless it falls under "reasonable network management".

    No, favoring specific applications is NOT a NN violation, especially when it's something the subscriber is paying extra for.... as long as they are not intentionally degrading or throttling those applications for people who don't pay.

    As I said before, if they are not overselling their network, they should not need to prioritize.

    And as I said before, you obviously have never had to engineer a large-scale network or you'd never make that kind of blanket statement.

    Reasonable network management would be limited to times of unusually high spikes in traffic

    Right, and since they aren't downgrading or throttling non-paying users' applications, and the prioritization only occurs in times of bandwidth crunch, under your definition what they are doing is 'reasonable'.

    and would be a fail-safe for time sensitive or safety critical services, not for people who have paid for some special prioritization.

    If you're running a safety-critical service over a residential, best-effort, general Internet connection you deserve to be locked in jail. Safety services should run on dedicated circuits which have redundancy and uptime guarantees, and in the years I've worked in the ISP industry this is pretty much the rule- and yes they pay a premium price for all of that. Much more than you'd be justified paying to get a better gaming connection.
    If you need a phone for your elderly mother, buy a fucking phone service, don't buy a best-effort data connection and hook a Magic Jack to it.

  • Re:woot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @06:50AM (#33330710) Journal
    Not very woot, no. Basically, the ISP is sending the message to customers that if you're doing something other than gaming, they're going to treat you like a second class citizen. And the priority you get is only relative to their other traffic so it doesn't mean that their 'first class' is any better than another company's 'standard'.
    Sounds like a company I'll avoid.
  • by yotto (590067) on Sunday August 22, 2010 @08:52AM (#33331110) Homepage

    Tiered service is not a violation of net neutrality. You can pay more for faster speeds, or less for slower speeds.

    This is paying more for faster speeds. I don't see the problem.

    I also see nowhere in the article that states WHAT is faster. I suspect it's just a faster pipe overall and this entire freakout session is without purpose.

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