links on the blink (fwd)

I believe that the central issue remains the lack
of an accepted, and maybe codified in the form of
binding text, agreement between a service provider
and a customer.
The current debate about what percentage packet loss
is acceptable is meaningless without including some notion of
what the *cost* of that packet loss is to the person or
application suffering that loss.
We need to address a central simple question, viz.
"What is the service provider selling ?"
"What is the customer buying ?"

[hopefully the answers match :)-]

The phone company does not make any promise of
global reachability. They would be stupid to do so,
as everyone knows that PacBell has no control over
Bell Atlantic or France Telecom, for example.
What they *do* do is assure, and, more importantly, reassure
us when we try to reach France and cannot, that they are
tracking the problem. This facet is, for the most part,
missing in today's Internet.
Perhaps the BMWG can work on a template for an agreement
between a customer and a provider that ..

a. sets realistic customer expectations.
b. binds the service provider to providing some insight
into performance of its own network, in the form of
easily obtainable figures of merit.
c. sets guidelines for problem tracking and resolution
times. Sort of a connectivity MTTR.

Customers can then choose amongst competing service providers
on more than a price basis.
Service providers can then compete on the basis of fulfilling
these customer expectations.

Another aspect is fate-sharing. No, not in the EID sense ;)-
AT&T is quite dependant on MCI having their act together
on the technical end of things to sustain its own voice business.
Yes, they compete ferociously on Madison Ave., but they
do co-operate in the trenches. They have to. They have a
common fate. [It remains to be seen how this will work when
baby bells are allowed to compete for IXC business.]
How important is it for Sprintlink that InternetMCI remain
stable ? I know that some of the more established NSPs
talk frequently, and use this list also. What about the
newer guys ? Do they have a sense of fate sharing ? Any
johnny-come-lately with a Linux box, gated and a few
thousand dollars can become a service provider. While
I like the fact that the monetary barrier-to-entry is
low, I don't like that they don't all recognize the
fate-sharing inherent in the Internet service business.

Unless we address some of these tough issues, the Internet
may not take that next step into becoming a serious infrastructural
resource comparable to the highway system, the phone system or
even the U.S Mail system (where a lost "packet" can have a
quantifiable cost, and disgruntled "routers" have been
known to shoot their frustrations away :)- )


        -- Bilal

>worked so hard on achieving. My hope was that you guys would do better
>than we did, and provide a ubiquitous high quality network (we did high
>quality, but not ubiquitous). Are you going to get to work and fix it,
>or continue to screw it up and whine around about the heat in the
>kitchen? Your choice.

It may just be culture shock going from the role of Internet insider,
to Internet outsider. But from the point of view of someone who has
always been an outsider, things don't really seem that different than
they have in the past. The net goes through cycles of good bandwidth
headroom years, and lean bandwidth headroom years. The engineers have
always been too busy trying to hold the whole mess together to explain
to the Internet populace what was going on. End-to-end network usability
has been a persistent problem for the decade+ I've been using the net.