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IAB Minutes 2017-12-06

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Minutes of the 2017-12-06 IAB Teleconference (Tech Chat & Business Meeting)

1. Roll-call, agenda-bash, administrivia

1.1. Attendance

  • Jari Arkko
  • Alissa Cooper
  • Ted Hardie (IAB Chair)
  • Joe Hildebrand
  • Lee Howard
  • Kathleen Moriarty (IESG Liaison)
  • Cindy Morgan (IAB Executive Administrative Manager)
  • Erik Nordmark
  • Mark Nottingham
  • Jeff Tantsura
  • Martin Thomson
  • Brian Trammell
  • Amy Vezza
  • Suzanne Woolf
  • Mat Ford (ISOC Liaison)
  • Allison Mankin (IRTF Chair)
  • Gabriel Montenegro
  • Robert Sparks
  • Geoff Huston
  • Greg Wood

1.2. Administrivia

The agenda item on RSOC membership was deferred to a future IAB meeting.

2. Tech Chat: The Death of Transit and Beyond

Geoff Huston, Chief Scientist at APNIC, joined the IAB to give a presentation titled “The Death of Transit and Beyond.” The slides are available at:

The common ancestor to the Internet is the telephone network, which:

  • Connected handsets to handsets
  • Was intentionally transparent
  • Had real-time virtual circuit support between connected edge devices
  • Had a network-centric architecture with minimal functionality in the edge devices.

The original concept for computer networks was like the telephone network; it was there to enable connected computers to exchange data.

  • All connected computers were able to initiate or receive “calls”
  • A connected computer could not call “the network” – the network was an invisible common substrate
  • It made no difference if the network had active or passive internal elements

The Internet architecture in the 1902 had an “end-to-end” design that was revolutionary; by stripping out network-centric virtual circuit states and removing time synchronicity, the resultant carriage network was minimal in design and functionality. More complex functions, such as flow control, jitter stability, loss mitigation and reliability, were pushed out to the attached devices on the edge.

One artifact of this is that the inequality of networks started to add up; we started differentiating on roles and services and differentiating by the flow of revenues between networks.

Content changed that by breaking the edge into clients and servers. The role of the network here is to carry clients to the service access points. This opened up the debate of who pays whom. The only reason why access networks have clients is because there are content services that clients want to access; therefore carriage should pay for content. There is no “end-to-end” financial settlement model in the Internet; both ends pay for access and network providers settle between themselves. To a carriage network, content is just another client; therefore content should pay for carriage, just like any other client. The content folk resolved this fight by creating relationships directly with the end users.

This led to the rise of the Content Distribution Network (CDN). Public networks no long er carry traffic to/from service portals via ISP carriage services. Instead, private networks carry content to service portals via CDN services. Now, almost all new submarine international cable projects are heavily underwritten by content providers instead of carriers.

If users don’t send packets to users any more, content is now delivered via CDNs to users via discrete service cones, and there is no universal service obligation, then why do we still need Transit Service providers? The internal parts of the carriage network are now being privatized and removed from public regulatory scrutiny.

In the United States, the space is dominated by a small number of dominant actors who set the rules of engagement for all others. Geoff Huston likened this to the U.S.’s Gilded Age in the late 19th century, when industrial and corporate giants were built on platforms that were a mix of industrial innovation and enterprise with elements of greed, corruption and labor exploitation. During this period in the United States, the dominant position within industry and commerce was occupied by a very small number of players who were moving far faster than the regulatory measures of the day. The resulting monopolies took decades to dismember, and even today many of these Gilded Age companies remain dominant in their fields. The Internet’s Gilded Age is seeing the dominant position across the entire Internet occupied by a small number of players that are moving faster than the regulatory measures that were intended to curb the worst excesses of market dominance by a small group of actors.

Geoff Huston said that this is no longer just a conversation about incremental changes in carriage and communications within the Internet. The essential topic of this conversation is how to strike a sustainable balance between an energetic private sector that has rapidly amassed overarching control of the digital service and content space, and the needs of the larger society in which there is some equity of opportunity to thrive and benefit from the outcomes of this new digital age.

Erik Nordmark asked where things might go in the future, and if the volume of data might move in a different direction. Geoff Huston replied that it is deeply tied into economics and where there are opportunities for revenue. Mobile networks capture more users (and thus make more money) than fixed-wire networks.

Alissa Cooper asked about the single addressing plan, and how those might come apart, as there is still some coordination needed for people to be able to connect. Geoff Huston replied that that Netflix is bypassing the access points and moving deeper into the network. The routing tables of some of the major player miss addresses, and never address why A can’t talk to B. CDNs are moving behind NATs; the infrastructure is suffering from neglect.

Ted Hardie asked Geoff Huston what the thinks about the real-time communications applications that fall into categories outside content consumption (e.g. Whatsapp, FaceTime). Geoff replied that as with Skype, the packets go into a private exchange, and it’s not clear whether the packets going out the other end have been altered.

Jari Arkko observed that previously, there was a model where many entities in the middle could see the packets, but now things are moving toward only one entity in the middle seeing things. Geoff Huston added that now even applications like Facebook essentially have an entire operating system inside the app, because they don’t trust the user’s OS and want to protect their app against other apps in the same environment.

Joe Hildebrand asked whether that paranoia was justified. Geoff Huston wouldn’t comment on that, but noted that it’s telling that the applications put out encrypted data that no one can understand except the data center.

Geoff Huston concluded that what people believed about the Internet architecture is not in line with how the Internet is actually working.

3. IAB Next Steps on Consolidation

The IAB discussed what their role is in addressing the issues of a consolidated Internet. Brian Trammell noted that a small part of it may be addressed in the choke points draft he is working on with Mark Nottingham. The choke points document is already on the agenda for the next IAB teleconference; Ted Hardie asked to add an additional topic to further discuss consolidation.

4. Future Tech Plenaries

Brian Trammell is working to schedule a GAIA-related tech chat.

Martin Thomson is talking to the Privacy and Security Program about relevant technical plenaries.

Greg Wood has drafted a checklist to help organize future technical plenaries.

5. Meeting Minutes

The minutes of the 1 November 2017, 12 November 2017, and 13 November 2017 business meetings were approved. The minutes of the 29 November 2017 business meeting remain under review.

6. Executive Session: RSOC Membership

This agenda item was deferred to a future IAB teleconference so that Robert Sparks could participate in the discussion.