2014/06/18

Telco CDNs & Monopolies

Telco CDNs (Content Distribution Networks) are provided by telcos by embedding content caching infrastructure deep in the network close to the end-user (just before the last kM of copper wire). The result is improved streaming to end-users and significantly less load on both the content providers servers and the telcos wider network. It's a win-win-win for everyone.

Telcos charge content providers for this service. If the telcos network has a limited client base then perhaps there's not much point in the content provider paying them to cache the content since it'll not reach many end-users. If the telco is a state run (or previously state run) monopoly telco then if you want to make sure your content is delivered in the best quality you'll pay (if you can). The telco could thus be accused of abuse if they are seen to be using a monopoly position to drive ever higher profits through leveraging this sort of technology. It can also be considered an abuse of net neutrality principles by essentially prioritising (biasing) content. Worse still if it's state run then you'll wonder if it's 1984 all over again (the fashion was truly awful!).

Technically I think the idea of telco CDNs is pretty neat and efficient (storage capacity is cheap compared to network capacity). I'd also not want to add directly to the cost of my internet connection to fund the infrastructure to support this so am pleased if someone else is prepared to pay.

Ultimately though we all pay of course and you could argue that this model at least attempts to ensure users of high volume services such as NetFlix pay rather than everyone. However, as with net neutrality concerns in general I wonder when the first public outcry will come... when we discover a telco is prioritising it's own video streaming service over a competitors? when we find the government has been using such methods to intentionally drop "undesirable" content? or when we can't watch East-Enders in HD because the BBC hasn't paid their bill recently?

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