Thoughts on why packet accounting will be A Good Thing.

Barry Shein (
Tue, 19 Apr 88 08:28:09 EST

>So, if with hiways, why not networks. Pay and 'packet pool'!

Because we don't have a cartel forcing the price up on bits? (joke)

Dennis, it's not a moral imperative or something that one can prove
easily is right or wrong. I guess the problem is simply that whatever
one does they are forced to engage in a form of social engineering.

Unless the charges are so trivial that they can be ignored (in which
case they won't have any effect on traffic volume) it will become a
decision factor. Some folks have pointed out how this can be a good
thing and I was trying to point out that this can also be a bad thing.

I guess my views come down to whether we are metering the right thing,
not really any PollyAnna view that someone won't pay the bill.

For example, why not charge for the length of cable used to hook
someone up, by the foot? That's a more direct cost than packet usage,
wire costs, bandwidth only costs when you don't have enough (that is,
what value is an unused wire?) If charging by the foot doesn't ring
true with you then now you have insight into my feelings about
metering packets.

Places to charge:

        1. One-time at point of hookup or, similarly, "rental of
        equipment" (eg. flat monthly rate.)

        2. Per packet

        3. Taxation model (thou shalt contribute N% of your overhead
        to networking.) This is probably the current model even tho
        it's not obvious to the casual observer (eg what agencies spend
        on networks they don't spend on other research costs, it's a
        witholding tax...) I realize that PSN hookups are charged and
        can more resemble (1), but that's a small part of the picture.

        4. Charge for higher level services based upon the service
        (eg. charge for local logins at one rate, remote logins at
        another rate, based upon connect time, as other services develop
        their charging units should also develop, distributed data base
        access based upon queries etc.)

I am sure there are others, I just don't see what's so compelling
about packets as the charging unit other than it seems simple and
straightforward (as many have pointed out, it really isn't very simple
nor straightforward once we consider the details of implementation.)

Personally I tend towards the taxation model which could be expanded
because it gibes with my view of network as infrastructure rather than
utility. Even the traditional public utilities have recognized these
sorts of alternate models (eg. 800 numbers) to per-unit charging.

        -Barry Shein, Boston University

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