Bufferbloat 2: The Need for Speed

Almost eight months ago in my annual predictions column I made a big deal about Bufferbloat, which was the name Bell Labs researcher Jim Gettys had given to the insidious corruption of Internet service by too many intelligent network devices. Well I’ve been testing one of the first products designed to treat bufferbloat and am here to report that it might work. But like many other public health problems, if we don’t all pay attention and do the right thing, ultimately we’ll all be screwed.

At the risk of pissing-off the pickier network mavens who read this column, Bufferbloat is a conflict between the Internet’s Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and various buffering schemes designed […]

2011 prediction #4: Bufferbloat may be terrible, but your cable ISP won't fix it

As explained ad nauseam in prediction #1, bufferbloat is going to be a growing problem this year as Windows XP machines are replaced and more people are downloading Internet video. But terrible latency, jitter, and dropouts may not be all bad if you are a cable ISP. That’s because cable ISPs are first and foremost cable television providers and the main victims of bufferbloat are video services like Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube that have become the natural enemies of cable TV. Cable video-on-demand services, while also digital, use separately-provisioned bandwidth and sometimes even different signaling technology, so the ISP’s competitor to Netflix isn’t bothered by bufferbloat at all.

Bufferbloat also affects BitTorrent, which ISPs hate, though they’d hate it a lot less if they’d eliminate […]

2011 predictions: One word — bufferbloat. Or is that two words?

As promised, here are my technology predictions for 2011. These columns usually begin with a review of my predictions from the previous year because it annoys me that writers make predictions without consequences. If we are going to claim expertise then our feet should be held to the fire. But last January I didn’t write a predictions column, thinking we were past all that (silly me) so there is nothing with which to embarrass myself here. More sobering still, after last year’s holiday firestorm over our naked card Mrs. Cringely won’t let me post this year’s card. We have become so dull.

We also seem to have become verbose, because my first prediction (below) took 1400 words to write. So tell you what: […]