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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday August 07 2022, @02:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the needs-a-decongestant dept.

MIT Researchers Say All Network Congestion Algorithms Are Unfair

We're all using more data than ever before, and the bandwidth caps ISPs force on us do little to slow people down — they're just a tool to make more money. Legitimate network management has to go beyond penalizing people for using more data, but researchers from MIT say the algorithms that are supposed to do that don't work as well as we thought. A newly published study suggests that it's impossible for these algorithms to distribute bandwidth fairly.

[...] The new study contends that there will always be at least one sender who gets screwed in the deal. This hapless connection will get no data while others get a share of what's available, a problem known as "starvation." The team developed a mathematical model of network congestion and fed it all the algorithms currently used to control congestion. No matter what they did, every scenario ended up shutting out at least one user.

The problem appears to be the overwhelming complexity of the internet. Algorithms use signals like packet loss to estimate congestion, but packets can also be lost for reasons unrelated to congestion. This "jitter" delay is unpredictable and causes the algorithm to spiral toward starvation, say the researchers. This led the team to define these systems as "delay-convergent algorithms" to indicate that starvation is inevitable.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07 2022, @02:58PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07 2022, @02:58PM (#1265429)

    For years I've had intermittent email delivery problems. Not as much in recent years, and since they seem to clear up within a few days (with no intervention) I mostly ignore them. At worst, I'll phone (voice) a customer and ask if they sent anything recently (or received something that I sent and never heard back). One joke is that sometimes I get detoured to the Internet Dirt Road (as opposed to the Information Superhighway).

    Now, providers are going to be able to pass this off, "It's unavoidable, MIT even proved it."
    Shit.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Rupert Pupnick on Sunday August 07 2022, @04:21PM (7 children)

    by Rupert Pupnick (7277) on Sunday August 07 2022, @04:21PM (#1265435) Journal

    "Legitimate network management has to go beyond penalizing people for using more data"

    What's illegitimate about charging people more for more data?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by tekk on Sunday August 07 2022, @04:55PM (6 children)

      by tekk (5704) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 07 2022, @04:55PM (#1265439)

      1. Because it doesn't reasonably distribute the load. Same thing as fines as punishment: it's just legal if you have money. Consider how much internet traffic is corporations with practically infinite money.

      2. At least in the US, those caps are being implemented by companies who have received billions of dollars in taxpayer funding to improve their networks so that these restrictions wouldn't be necessary, but they just pocketed it. The fact that every major ISP in the country was able to do this with no punishments at all is, of course, hilarious.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by canopic jug on Sunday August 07 2022, @05:12PM (3 children)

        by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 07 2022, @05:12PM (#1265442) Journal

        2. At least in the US, those caps are being implemented by companies who have received billions of dollars in taxpayer funding to improve their networks so that these restrictions wouldn't be necessary, but they just pocketed it. The fact that every major ISP in the country was able to do this with no punishments at all is, of course, hilarious

        The Book Of Broken Promises [irregulators.org] covers that in detail. The book is available for download as PDF. The US has spent over half a trillion dollars cumulative. Although the money has been earmarked for broadband, it instead always gets pocketed by the ISPs without even the smallest amount of return or accountability. That's it. The ISPs just pocket it, again and again. Despite that they are allowed to keep asking for, and getting, government money. This has happened repeatedly since the early 1990s with neither sign of letting up nor of producing any improvements to the network infrastructure. The politicians keep participating in it time and again, perhaps because of campaign contributions, lobbying money, private sector jobs waiting for them when their terms end, or a combination of all three.

        --
        Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
        • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Sunday August 07 2022, @06:34PM

          by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday August 07 2022, @06:34PM (#1265450)

          Sure, let them keep the money, the blah blah invisible hand blah blah free market. What bugs me is when municipalities want to build out their own ISP as a local service for, you know, the benefit of the people who like live there, and the entrenched ISPs gear/resource up their lawyers to fight them in court. Follow that trail, and it starts looking like massive financial channeling with Internet service as a side business [youtu.be].

        • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Sunday August 07 2022, @07:05PM

          by RamiK (1813) on Sunday August 07 2022, @07:05PM (#1265453)

          it instead always gets pocketed by the ISPs without even the smallest amount of return or accountability.

          Actually it goes into industry infrastructure and rate subsidies as a form of corporate welfare. The missing link is found when you go a little further back to the AT&T break and realize the US switched from having the infrastructure get subsidized by long distance rate calls (big corporate users) to having the general public get vendor locked to a local monopoly while industry rates stay capped at IP telephony / sat ceilings which is always below private residence.

          --
          compiling...
        • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Sunday August 07 2022, @11:23PM

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 07 2022, @11:23PM (#1265471) Journal

          Downloaded, and started reading the PDF. I read much of the beginning of the book in various newspapers, magazines, and early online articles. I'm glad an author has gone to the trouble of pulling it all together, under one title. Thanks for the link.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Rupert Pupnick on Monday August 08 2022, @12:18AM (1 child)

        by Rupert Pupnick (7277) on Monday August 08 2022, @12:18AM (#1265473) Journal

        Understand that I'm not defending the status quo (which is frankly incomprehensible). I'm just rejecting the premise that higher data use shouldn't result in more cost for the data user. Why not? How else would you do it? If has to be paid for somehow.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Freeman on Monday August 08 2022, @03:27PM

          by Freeman (732) on Monday August 08 2022, @03:27PM (#1265555) Journal

          We don't need to go down that route, just yet. Since, right now, the ISPs are pocketing boat loads of money and doing very little to help the consumer. In the event that you're marketing a service, you should deliver said service. The issue is that ISPs tend to balk, when a user actually tries to use the service for what it was advertised. You want to charge per kilobyte of data, go for it. Just, expect for grandma to be somewhat miffed when you're charging her $20 per GB, when her kids are getting it for $0.10 per GB. Either that or essentially, all internet services, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Skype, Steam, GOG, Google Drive, DropBox, Facebook, etc. (literally everything) will tank. Internet services require a certain amount of performance to function. Unlike a utility like water, an ISP can generate any amount they want. Speed limitations and "data caps" are practical constructions for providing "adequate" service to customers. Fiber-to-the-Home is a great way to see how stupid and corrupt most ISPs are.

          People are already paying for "higher data use". ISPs just balk and want to milk them for more. In the event that everyone "paid their fair share", ISPs would make a lot less money or there would be very few "whale" power users. As you would have to pay an exorbitant amount of money to binge watch Netflix, while downloading a game on Steam, and your other family members browse the internet.

          --
          Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Sunday August 07 2022, @06:37PM (4 children)

    by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday August 07 2022, @06:37PM (#1265451)

    Aren't fiber distributed data interconnect, token ring, etc. supposed to guarantee fairness at the expense of performance? A token is passed from machine to machine, and whichever one has it at a given time gets to transmit up to a certain amount of data.

    • (Score: 2) by tekk on Sunday August 07 2022, @10:30PM (2 children)

      by tekk (5704) Subscriber Badge on Sunday August 07 2022, @10:30PM (#1265468)

      I don't think there are any ring topologies still in use, because they're inefficient for cases people care about.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by quietus on Monday August 08 2022, @05:21AM (1 child)

        by quietus (6328) on Monday August 08 2022, @05:21AM (#1265504) Journal

        In industrial production, where timing is crucial. I don’t know how far that has been replaced by industrial Ethernet.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by kazzie on Monday August 08 2022, @02:29PM

          by kazzie (5309) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 08 2022, @02:29PM (#1265543)

          Ring networks seem pretty niche in industrial control, too. A lot of the 'packet' collision / timing issues are resolved by using a master/slave access protocol, which can be done just fine on a bus.

    • (Score: 2) by Rupert Pupnick on Monday August 08 2022, @12:20AM

      by Rupert Pupnick (7277) on Monday August 08 2022, @12:20AM (#1265474) Journal

      That's an old LAN protocol that can't scale to Internet scale traffic.

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