Friday, April 30, 2010

NBC's Rick Cotton on DPI - Or is it Comcast?

Washington Post's Cecilia Kang interviewed Rick Cotton, the chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s coalition against counterfeiting and piracy and the general counsel of NBC Universal on the cost of counterfeiting intellectual property on the Internet and how Washington has been responding (here).

Among other things, Mr. Cotton was asked about DPI (note that NBC Universal and Comcast are discussing a merger):

"Q: But can you understand the concern that the use of technologies like DPI could be misused? Who is to say those ISPs won’t use the data they find through that surveillance for other commercial purposes with behavioral advertising?

A: It is possible to use technology in ways that fully respect privacy rights and that are fully consistent with free access concerns with respect to broadband Internet. What is needed is cooperative explanation of how to achieve both. Technology is much more capable than that."

Looks more like the Comcast (as a carrier) view rather than the traditional OTT(Over The Top)/content providers’ (NBC) position.

Alfa (Lebanon) Uses Openwave for Traffic Shaping

Openwave (NASDAQ:OPWV) reported quarterly results yesterday (here). Revenues were disappointing at $40.1M, compares to $49.7M in previous quarter and $44.7 on the same quarter last year. Shares dropped by 13.6% on Thursday, with nearly 8 times the average trading volume.

During the conference call (transcript  here) Openwave's CEO, Ken Denman, mentioned that "In the quarter we also signed a deal with Lebanese mobile operator, Alfa, which is upgraded to Integra to help them address bandwidth challenges head on by shaping their data traffic. With Integra installed Alfa can eventually monetize their mobile traffic ahead of the competition." .

Alfa (owned by the Orascom Telecom since February 2009) has over 1M subscribers. The site shows only GPRS/WAP technologies as available for their Mobile Internet service (here)

Openwave, that was focusing on mobile messaging has shifted in the recent quarters to a more comprehensive mobile data gateway solution. As mobile operators are seeking multi-function elements, mobile equipment vendors have to integrate more and more functions into their offering, as there will be no room for single-function standalone boxes. We can see this direction taken by many vendors, line Comverse (see "DPI – Recent Product Announcements, New Player" - here), Bytemobile and Flash Networks moving from optimization solutions to service gateways,  the merger between Mobixell and 724 Solutions (here).

DPI and traffic shaping is certainly one of these required integrated functions. For Openwave, this is somehow accomplished by the Media Optimizer, which includes a "Dynamic Bandwidth Shaping: Adjust the optimized media bit-rate delivered to the subscriber based on available network bandwidth".

While it does detect video traffic, the web site does not mention the detection of other important protocols (such as P2P file sharing) - so it seems that the DPI functionality is pretty basic. Openwave launched the Media Optimizer on February (press release - here), focusing on video traffic management.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bridgewater - Strong Quarter - New Customers

Bridgewater Systems (TSX:BWC) published today the 2010 Q1 results - see "Bridgewater Systems Reports Financial Results for Q1 2010" - here.

Q1 was a strong quarter for the company - revenues were $24.5M (74% growth from last year) and net earning were $4.6M. It seems that management sees also strong quarters ahead, at the new guidance for 2010 is revenues of $85-$94M compared to 2009 revenues of $66.7M and previous guidance of $82-92M. These are Canadian $ - the exchange rate to US$ is approx. 1.

Share are gaining ~3% at midday trading today.

We get more proof to the nice growth of the policy management market (see also "Policy Server Market - Still Small, but Always Optimistic!" - here), as Bridgewater informs us about some deals and trials:
  • The increase in product revenue primarily reflects the delivery and acceptance of the WideSpan systems for Verizon Wireless".
    WideSpan is a package of BWS products that includes a Policy Controller. Earlier this quarter we saw a press release from Camiant on selling Policy server to Verizon wireless as well. (see "Verizon Wireless Selects Camiant for PCRF (so what happened to Bridgewater?)" - here). So the mystery of Verizon Policy Server vendor remains.
  • Selected by Mobily, the largest provider of mobile broadband in Saudi-Arabia, to provide the Bridgewater® Service Controller and Policy Controller to manage mobile data growth across its WiMAX, and Wi-Fi networks with plans to integrate with the HSPA network.
Other customers remain anonymous, per the tradition of our business:
  • Bridgewater® Policy Controller was deployed by a European property of a major global mobile operator group to meet new EU mobile data roaming legislation and empower subscribers to personalize and manage mobile data usage. (see "EU Helps Preventing Mobile Bill Shock" - here).
  • Continued momentum in helping customers transform to 4G with five confirmed LTE trials with major operators in Asia Pacific and North and South America for the Bridgewater® EPC 500 'control-plane-in-a-box' system.

DPI Deployments - Part8: Cricket - Quota with Traffic Management

Fierce Wireless reports on new Cricket/Leap Wireless (US Mobile operator) service plans - "Leap experimenting with new unlimited broadband plans" (here). 3 new plans will be offered, all with a monthly byte cap - 2.5, 5 or 10G.

However, once the cap is reached (in a rolling 30 days period), the data service does not stop or overcharged with ridicules rates - instead the effective download/upload data rate may go down ("penalty" in policy management terms).

Nice example of using subscriber-based policy management with QoS equipment. The solution comes from Sandvine and Openet - see a Sandvine press release issued earlier this year - "Sandvine Supports Cricket Broadband Internet " (here).

Cricket's definition for the "penalty" (here):

"Usage. This is the amount of data that you can upload and download in a rolling 30-day period before Cricket's Fair Use Policy may reduce your speed. Once the rolling 30-day data usage is below your rate plan Usage Level upload and download speeds will be restored. These Usage Levels affect only a small percentage of our customers and help ensure optimum performance for all Cricket customers."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Riverbed to Manage Traffic on Verizon's Managed WAN

In my "Broadband Traffic Management" blog, I usually cover consumer-generated traffic - i.e. services and applications we all know from our personal use, either over fixed or mobile networks.

Nevertheless, there is a huge market out there, with a very similar core technology, which targets the operator's business customers - enterprises that either inter-connect their branches and data centers or provide Internet access to their corporate users (or both).

See an earlier post on this subject "Reliance Globalcom Uses DPI for App-Aware Services" - here.

Today we get an announcement from the leader in enterprise Wan Optimization market - RiverbedTheStreet reports (here) that "Networking specialist Riverbed(RVBD) is teaming up with Verizon(VZ) as part of a deal to boost traffic across corporate networks.". This is not new for Verizon, as it "already works with Cisco(CSCO) and Juniper(JNPR) to support its Managed WAN Optimization Services, but will now add Riverbed to this mix" - but certainly a great opportunity to Riverbed.

TheStreet also mentions that "ATT(T), BT(BT) and Orange Business Services were present at the virtual Steelhead launch, and Riverbed says that it is working with all three companies around managed services.". Orange Business Services is also using one of Riverbed's  comptitors - Ipanema Technologies - see  "App Performance Services from Vanco and Orange Business Services"  here.

Is it Possible to Block Skype with DPI ?

My recent Skype-related posts ("Skype to EU Carriers: "The Network is not Yours" - here and "Skype Rising Usage - Best Example for the Net Neutrality Fight" - here) may lead the reader to think that blocking Skype is possible - using DPI technology.

Just add a DPI element (standalone or integrated in some other device) and it will detect Skype (and other Over-The-Top VoIP traffic which compete with the carrier voice revenues) and will block it per the pre-defined policies. Some operators will block it for everybody, some will allow it for some subscribers (line the Orange France case) and block for others.

However, blocking Skype (even if the traffic is accurately detected) is not that easy! A recent blog entry from Art Reisman, CTO of APconnections ("Blocking Skype Won’t be Easy" - here) explains "the special case of why blocking Skype traffic is a different animal".

The main issue  is the continues fight - DPI vs. Skype. It is a never-ending engineering challenge. Once a reliable method for detecting and blocking Skype is discovered by DPI engineers - Skype engineers add a new way to bypass it. Since distributing a new client is an easy and quick process, detecting and blocking significant percent of Skype (90-95%), over a long period of time, is a huge challenge.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Skype to EU Carriers: "The Network is not Yours"

In a recent post to "The Big Blog" (Skype's HQ News), Skye's Director for EMEA Government relations. Mr. Jean-Jacques Sahel, is asking the EU for "freedom on the web" - here.

While we do see new initiatives in certain European countries for Net Neutrality ("Net Neutrality in France - "we need some regulation" - here), Skype is concerned by the approach of the larger European carriers to "to charge Internet companies fees to run data on “their” network".

As an example, he brings the story of Orange France allowing only premium accounts to use VoIP (this was mentioned above post as well). See also "Orange allows mobile VoIP for EUR 15/mo plus data costs" - here.

Related link: "Skype Rising Usage - Best Example for the Net Neutrality Fight" here.

RCN: Sorry - We Will Stop Doing That (P2P control)

Quietly, RCN a US Cable ISP (Boston, Chicago, DC, NYC, Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia) settled a class action lawsuit for controlling P2P traffic (a la' Comcast) between August '03 to July '09. They will not do it anymore, at least until November '10. More details here. The plaintiff gets $3.000 and the lawyer gets $520,000.

Note that this was signed few days ago, well after Comcast won the appeal against the FCC.

RCN is a long-time Sandvine customer (as noted in Sandvine's prospectus from Oct '06). They were probably using the same traffic management technique used by Comcast thus exposing the traffic management process to the end-users - see "DPI Deployments - Part5: North American Cable - The Net Neutrality Trigger" - here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sky UK – Tiering without Traffic Shaping

Sky Broadband UK has announced 2 new broadband plans (see "Sky Launches New Up To 20Mb Broadband Product" - here) - "Sky Unlimited" and "Sky Everyday Lite". Both programs provide connection speeds of up to 20 Mbps (depending on the DSL link capabilities).

Sky Unlimited removes a 2 GB monthly cap that is imposed on the entry-level program, Sky Everyday Lite, for extra £7.5/month.

This is a very simple tiering plan, as the Lite program addresses subscribers who are accessing the net for occasional web browsing and some email only. Anyone else, has to go to the Unlimited plan. Sky is bundling this with their TV services.

Subscribers of both program are NOT subject for traffic shaping, although Sky's third program (used for wholesale), "Sky Broadband Connect:" is (see "DPI Deployments - Part4: UK - Everybody is Doing it !" - here - and Sky's policy "Traffic management of our Network" - here).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

IPad - A Traffic Management Problem for Universities

It is 10 years now that universities are struggling with internet access traffic management problems. A concentration of P2P fileshares and savvy power-users, high speed links, access everywhere on campus (including wireless), students living on campus - all contribute to 100% utilization of all internet links, no matter how much bandwidth is added (chart at the right taken from Angelo State University)

In addition, as universities have also high capacity on their uplinks (as oppose to asymmetrical links at home) they are also the source for many file sharing downloads from all over the world. I believe most US universities (and other educational institutes) have already implemented DPI/traffic shaping devices - many of them between 2000-2003 (regardless of RIAA copyright issues associated with file sharing). See an article from 2002 - Bandwidth Management Tools, Strategies and Issues - here.

It seems that we have now a new source for traffic problems - Apple's IPad. A Washington Post article ("Capus Overload" - here) says - "Princeton University has blocked about two dozen iPads that were messing up the university network. Seton Hill University, which is equipping every student with an iPad, has had to quadruple its bandwidth and charge students a $500-per-semester technology fee. Cornell University is also seeing networking and connectivity issues, similar to what happened with the iPhone hit".

We were waiting for this since February see "The FCC Warns: Apple’s iPad may cause Network Congestion" - here

Most DPI vendors are targeting this market - see:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Skype Rising Usage - Best Example for the Net Neutrality Fight

Om Malik of GigOM published yesterday some information on the rising use of Skype "Skype By the Numbers: It’s Really Big" - here.

The data, from Skype’s chief technology strategist, Jonathan Rosenberg shows very nice growth in Skype usage, including:
  • Skype users made more the 250 billion minutes worth of Skype-to-Skype calls from the time the service was launched through the end of 2009.
  • Skype in 2009 accounted for 12 percent of the world’s international calling minutes, a 50 percent increase over 2008 when it accounted for 8 percent of international calling, according to TeleGeography Researc.
12 years ago, when I joined Vocaltec, we had a similar application to today's Skype - the name was Internet Phone (or ... Iphone !). Vocaltec went public in 1995, with the press envisioning the end of the incumbent carriers and the PSTN. It did not happen then - for many reasons - but with the above numbers it does happen now to Skype. It is a threat to the carriers - fixed and mobile.

Of course, not every minute that goes to Skype is a minute lost by someone else, as Skype if free (in most cases). But still,. 12% of the international minutes is very significant, mainly where international calls are expensive.

This may bring back the issue of Net Neutrality - maybe not in the US but certainly in other countries - or it will change the Internet flat rates to usage-based rates.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BitTorrent CEO Prepares for the No Net Neutrality Future - Power to the People!

BitTorrent CEO, Eric Klinker, seems to be facing the fact that Net Neutrality is not going to happen. Instead, he is certain that public demand will force carriers to avoid discrimination. COMPUTERWORLD brings the story (here), from  eComm 2010 Conference.

Some quotes: "Instead, it is the public that will pass judgment on how service and application providers behave .. The public is our regulator ... he isn't afraid of carriers creating "walled gardens" of selected content turn the Internet into the equivalent of cable TV. They also would have a hard time selling network management programs based on "discrimination"

"Most people basically want net neutrality, so it would be hard for carriers to justify network management measures that are seen as discriminatory".

Well .. most people want to get everything for free ..

Monday, April 19, 2010

DPI Wins - Procera Announces 2 New Tier1 Customers

Procera announced today that a "a Tier-1 mobile operator and a Tier-1 managed service provider (MSP) have placed initial orders for its PacketLogic™ systems in the first quarter of 2010". In addition   "it has 10 Tier-1 trials ongoing or planned over the next 60 days with potential customers" - here.

This time we don’t get additional details - such as geographic or size - so we cannot guess who are the new customers.

Note that Procera's shares (AMEX: PKT) climbed more than 10% last week, in heavy trading.

Friday, April 16, 2010

DPI Deployments - Part7: Canadian ISPs

Colin Bennett and Christopher Parsons started a new web site, Deep Packet Insepction (Canada), with the goal of creating awareness in the Canadian public to how and where DPI is used, mainly by the privacy aspects.

One of the sections lists the current status of DPI usage among Canadian ISPs (here). I summarized the DPI deployment status for each covered ISP in the table below - you may click the ISP name to get more details.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

European and US Politicians Support Net Neutrality

After the hit Net Neutrality got last week, we suddenly see Politicians in Europe and US (on the same day!) pushing again for the added regulation.

"Internet users must be able to access whatever content they want, regardless of telecoms companies' demands that high-bandwidth publishers pay them, according to a European Commissioner [Neelie Kroes] ahead of a consultation on net neutrality "  according to The Register (here).

"The powerful chairman of a U.S. Senate committee [Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat] will push for additional authority for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to enforce Net neutrality rules and implement its new national broadband plan, if it's needed following a court ruling against the agency this month." according the IDG (here).

Nice coincidence!

At least on the US side, the article also brings some disagreement in the Senate: "the broadband plan would create huge new federally funded programs (Senator John Ensign) and "A light regulatory approach to the Internet by the FCC in the past has promoted innovation" (Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison)"

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Net Neutrality in France - "we need some regulation"

We were waiting for the ARCEP conference on Net Neutrality in France (see "Net Neutrality Train Next Stop: France (?)" - here).
In the meantime we saw how things have changed quickly in the US - reducing the likelihood that Net Neutrality will become a regulation there.
The conference took place as planned (agenda - here), and was concluded by Jean-Ludovic Silicani, président de l’ARCEP (French regulator), setting "5 main conclusions" (document, in French - here) - including:
  • The Internet business (ISP, Content providers) should be transparent
  • A certain degree of traffic management should be allowed, when congestion occurs and it is done in a transparent and non-discriminating way. It is expected that there will be differences between fixed and mobile carriers
  • A certain level of regulation is needed - the internet eco-system cannot be exclusively self-regulated
This sounds very similar to the FCC proposed guidelines for Net Neutrality. During the day, it was mentioned that French MNOs are/were blocking VoIP (Skype), while they are investing Billions of Euros in network infrastructure - the classical Net Neutrality conflict. See more here.

Mr. Silicani concluded by hoping that France could lead the "Global Net Neutrality" discussion.

Video interviews with conference participants available here.

DPI Deployments - Part6: T-mobile (US)

An article in Continuous Computing News (a vendor of DPI enabling technology) mentions a number of carriers deploying DPI - among them, and the biggest one: T-Mobile (I believe it refers to the US network)
" ..Mark Ellis-Jones, head of data network design and planning at T-Mobile [USA], agrees. “[DPI is] almost like UMTS: it has the technical capability, but will anyone leverage it for commercial gain?” he asks. “There is no view in achieving that any time soon ... T-Mobile uses DPI to enhance a customer’s experience by giving priority to what it calls “conversational” real-time traffic. “To give more response to low-latency traffic such as video compared to background tasks such as file downloads,” says Ellis-Jones

T-mobile does not disclose its full traffic management policies. They may be only prioritizing traffic that requires real-time performance (as said). However, they don’t say if they are limiting file downloads, regardless whether there real-time traffic is present or not. They don’t say if they are doing this on the subscriber, base-station, backhaul link or total network level.

Nevertheless, it is still not common to get such statements these days, when Net Neutrality is still an outstanding issue in the US.

Other MNOs mentioned - Yoigo (Spain) and BT (DPI in the context of content is targeted advertising).
See full article here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Morgan Stanley analyst Meeker: Mobile innovation will leave the desktop web in the dust | VentureBeat

One more interesting session at Google's Atmosphere 2010 (see my earlier post - here) - this time by Morgan Stanley's analyst Mary Meeker - "The Mobile Internet" on the growth of Mobile Internet.

I had a number of posts on this subject - including research and testimonials from leading carriers (AT&T, Zain) but Ms. Meeker's statements are the strongest:  "The pace of mobile innovation is “unprecedented, I think, in world history"

See coverage by Anthony Ha, VentureBeat - here.

Source for the chart below - Morgan Stanley.

Google's Vint Cerf on Net Neutrality - Good for the Rich Content Providers?

TechCrunch article "Google’s Top Innovators On The Cloud, Net Neutrality, And More" (here) by Jason Kincaid covers the "Google’s Innovators" panel in  Atmoshpere 2010 conference. One of the discussion items was Net Neutrality, and the answer by Vint Cerf, Google's Chief Internet Evangelist is interesting.

The first part (quoted below) is about what Google likes and does not like in Net Neutrality. It has lots of ambiguous language:
  • Who is "you" in "you have to pay more"? (the content provider or subscriber?)
  • What is "companies providing services will have equal opportunity" - if they pay the carriers? After all he agrees that "not all packets should be treated equally". 

During the years, Mr. Ceft had different views on Net Neutrality. While the Google's traditional position was in favor of Net Neutrality, at least once he was against the regulation - see  "Vint Cerf speaks out on net neutrality" (from November 2005 - here) saying that "My fear is that, as written, this bill would do great damage to the Internet as we know it".

However, a year later Mr. Ceft was back on tracks - i.e. in favor of Net Neutrality (here) and was consistent since then. Google itself changed its position recently - see "More Signs for Net Neutrality Piece - Google and Verizon Joint Appeal to the FCC" - here.

So - has Google found THE solution - Net Neutrality should be based on simple economic rules of supply and demand?

Q: We’ve seen some recent changes with respect to network neutrality. What’s your take?

Vint: In a sense we are very dependent on carriers all around the world. With regard to net neutrality, the term has been vastly distorted. Our concern has been with anti-competitive behavior. Our biggest concerns is not that all packets be treated identically, and it’s not that you have to pay more for certain packets. It’s to ensure that there is a level playing field. So companies providing services will have equal opportunity to allow users to reach the product. If you’re in the business of delivering video for a fee, and were also supplying broadband access, it’s possible you might limit access to a competitor’s video site. With regard to the most recent decision, the way I’ve interpreted this is that the Title I place where the Internet is located for regulatory purposes, didn’t give FCC authority. The side effect of that may be to drive the FCC to relabel Internet service into Title II. As an engineer I’ve felt that the Internet does have a communications component, which should be equally accessible to everyone. in the past when Internet was in Title II, the common carriage rules applied. When you offered access to communications services you had to do it on an equal basis to everyone. I think that a return to that should not be accompanied to all the restrictions of Title II (telephony related things).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Verizon CEO: "We will find them and we will charge them something else."

I mentioned Mr. Ivan Seidenberg session at the Council of Foreign Relations few days ago (see "FCC's Net Neutrality, R.I.P (Part II)" - here). Now, that the full session's transcript was published (here - Video - here) we get more, stronger, statements on Verizon non-Net Neutrality plans.

Here is a one paragraph (there is lot more!):

"But when we now go after the very, very high users, the ones who camp on the network all day long every day doing things that -- who knows what they're doing -- those are the --

MURRAY [Alan S. Murray, Deputy Managing Editor and Executive Editor, Online, Wall Street Journal] : It's video, right? I mean, it's video.

SEIDENBERG: But those are the people we will throttle and we will find them and we will charge them something else. Now, the dilemma we have is that government will come in and say well, I'm not sure we want you to do that.

MURRAY: Net neutrality. We want --

SEIDENBERG: Net neutrality could be used against that. So the issue is, to answer the question is we don't want to have a linear pricing scale. We do want to find a way to give the majority of people value for bundles, but we have to make sure we find a pricing plan that takes care of that 10 percent that's abusing the system. And it's that simple. And therefore you have to have rules, give us discretion to run our business. Net neutrality could negate the discretion to run your business, and -- if you take it to its ultimate extreme. So that's just an example."