Do ISP’s have a right to say No?

December 28, 2010

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You all know the adage, ask a stupid question and be prepared to get a stupid answer – in this case, when the three major ISP’s (Singtel, Starhub and M1) were asked to reveal their respective average surf speeds all of them just said, No!

How smart was their reaction? Coming to think of it, does the question even make sense? Well it depends….

Let me put it another way – how reasonable would it be to ask Ferrari or for that matter Porsche to reveal the average speed that their cars are usually driven in? I guess that sort of question would depend on a host of supplementary questions that’s quite hard to answer – locality, temperament of the driver, road conditions, weather, density of cars per stretch of road, local bye laws, commuting distance and probably 1,000 other variables.

My point is, just as it may not be reasonable to expect a car manufacturer to pin point the average speed that their cars are driven in (the best we can hope for is to ask what its rated performance under a given set of conditions) – in the same way, it may not be possible for ISP’s to reveal the average surf speed of their users; as when speed is measured in the internet, it is really a function that involves not one or two but so many variables that it may even be impossible to track let alone account for –as these would involve, the IT architecture of the ISP, the International nodes that is in use between to host country to country transactions, baud rate, average number of people logged in, infrastructure of the host server, security architecture and just as analogy of the car, a 1,000 other factors.

The problem as I see it may have something to do with how the public still doesn’t really understand the internal workings of the internet – the internet since its inception has not really changed from its original architecture – strip down the internet to its bare chassis and all it is, is a military post apocalyptic communication system.

The idea sounds simple enough, after the first nuclear strike, all the telephone lines will be down, but some linkages may still be up and running – so when a message is sent via the internet, it’s really not so different from a rat trying to get to the other side in a maze – how it does it till today believe or not is still largely unknown and a mystery, there has been many elegant math theories and I have eve formulated my own version, but none of them can claim to exhaustive – you could for instance type “dotseng,” on two separate occasions in Google, but the route by which you arrive at the site will never ever be the same.

Now take that model that I have just explained and now superimpose it on the original question asked on the ISP’s – can you please tell me what is the average surf speed of the user – and what becomes clear is it’s really one of the dumbest questions in the world.

The way I see it, a better way of making sense of this mountain of a molehill is to reframe the whole question of what is the surf speed of A,B and C ISP as a statement of fact i.e do most subscribers realize that advertized surf speeds are based on test results under optimum conditions and may not reflect the actual internet surfing experience? What steps have been taken (if any at all) by ISP’s to communicate this information to their customers so that they are able to make an informed decision? And since surf speeds vary outside test conditions; should ISP’s even be allowed to use them as an advertising crowbar to influence the public since whatever speed is advertised bears absolutely no relationship with reality? Or maybe someone in IDA just needs to get off their fat ass and earn this months salary, pronto?

I think that’s the gist of it, but above all one adage rules all, caveat emptor.

Darkness 2011.


Singaporedaddy: “We come in the name of peace.”

Al Khaleed: “Yes, I understand what you are saying envoy of the Brotherhood, but is it the good or bad peace this time?” 

Singaporedaddy: “Al Khaleed, trust me, it is good….open the gates my friend.”

Al Khaleed, “Syukur that it is the good variety – one more question Singaporedaddy which good does this good belong too? Is it the same good that the confederation regards as bad – or the good that the gulf states consider good when we play your games?”

Singaporedaddy: “That is a very good question Al Khaleed with only bad answers.”

Somewhere along the Saffron route when it was first open in the age of the rocket – the Brotherhood Press 2010

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