Infrastructure of the Internet Society

Infrastructure Peering

Infrastructure of the Internet Society

By Hunter Newby, CEO  |  August 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the August issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY

I was invited to speak on a panel at the Internet Society – New York Chapter on June 14, 2011, as part of the INET Conferences. The topic of the panel was “Pushing Technology Boundaries” and covered issues including Internet infrastructure models, the impact of potential technology breakthroughs and community fiber. Prior to the event the panel the moderator, Leslie Daigle, chief Internet technology officer of the Internet Society, sent out a list of questions to the panelists to set the stage and gain certain insights as to the various perspectives.

In an effort to educate in mass beyond the select 200 people who were in attendance the following are those questions along with my answers.

Leslie Daigle: The Internet started as an inherently collaborative network – indeed, an inter-network. What is the general Internet in this day and age, and what are the qualities of it that need to be preserved or nurtured to ensure it continues to provide the environment for innovation? Any that are not relevant?

Hunter Newby (News - Alert): Open, neutral interconnection at the physical layer needs to be preserved. Private peering/cross-connects between any two networks in a neutral colocation facility is the basis of the Internet. Without layer 1, there is no 2, 3, etc. I believe the term public Internet, which is widely used and as widely misunderstood, refers to the open nature of the Internet in regards to interconnection. It is more commonly thought to be associated with the security risks of data though, and that term is interchanged with public cloud (in reference to frame relay and ATM) and that gets confused with cloud computing, which is something entirely different. We should all be more concerned about preserving the concept of a dictionary and clearly defining terms. Public, or private, it all starts with layer 1.

Leslie Daigle: Rules of behavior have cultural and national boundaries as enforced by national laws. Indeed, the telecommunications industry has been governed by national (and international) regulations. However, the technical architecture of the Internet does not particularly recognize those frontiers. Could it? Should it? What would be the impact of those changes?

Hunter Newby: Fiber specifications, DWDM, Ethernet, Internet protocol are all global standards because of their efficiency and effectiveness. It's best to let that force of nature continue on its course. God forbid we have to go back to SONET-SDH conversions! The laws of nature are natural in a Darwin best of breed sense. The laws of nations are not as they are biased towards other interests. It is much easier to control and predict the behavior of machines, devices and components than it is to do the same for a nation of people. Then again, the machines help those who are in control of them to control the behavior of the people.Leslie Daigle: The Internet is built on the assumption that new services and applications can be built and deployed, without requiring advance permission. This can create a tussle as those services may be competitive with ones offered by network operators. Is there a way to manage that, or is it just a fact of life?

Hunter Newby: The ability to build and deploy without requiring advance permission is all about one thing: control. Having it means not having to ask permission. Not having it results in the net neutrality debate. The net in net neutrality refers to network and not the Internet. Most people I have asked do not know this and think it is about the Internet. It is in fact about the control of access to the Internet. That is where the gate of permission sits.

Nature will dictate, just as water flows down hill, the path of least resistance. The key is to have multiple paths or networks available. If there is only one there will be a gate. In a truly competitive field (four or more different transport networks) there will always be at least one that dissents and provides an open platform for others to build and deploy applications that people want to use without interference by the underlying provider of the transport of the application.

It was truly an honor to be on an agenda with such influential contributors to the global networking landscape as Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf. The dialog throughout the entire day was very engaging and enlightening for many reasons and on many levels. To view the archived webcast please visit www.isoc.org.


Hunter Newby, CEO Allied Fiber (News - Alert) writes the Infrastructure Peering column for TMCnet To read more of Hunter's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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