Re: Melting the Internet?
Thu, 4 May 1995 18:20:27 -0400

At 8:13 AM 5/4/95 -0700, Sean Foderaro wrote:

> I also wanted to gently chastise CU for releasing CU-SeeMe in its
>current form to the masses. Its default behavior is to be a
>bandwidth hog. It didn't have to be that way: it could have come up
>in 'demo' mode (1fps cap) and one could set it higher for

But, we were not interested in producing a "demo." Nor was it our main
objective to be "friendly to The Internet." We were interested in
producing a videoconferencing tool that would be useful for some number of
people today (not necessarily Everyone On The Internet). There are lots of
places "on" the Internet where bandwidth is plentiful. E.g., we have a 100
Mbps campus backbone at Cornell. Would it make sense to cripple CU-SeeMe
in that context simply because it doesn't work well in every context? Why
should those (e.g., regional nets, corporate nets, etc.) who have made the
investment in bandwidth be restricted to services that are limited to the
lowest common denominator? That doesn't sound like a good recipe for
encouraging investment in bandwidth.

>of how much of the net they were using (one advantage of using
>CU-SeeMe over a modem line is that you really understand how
>much retransmission goes on for those still pictures people
>often send to reflectors).

Well, I would rephrase that to say "one advantage of using CU-SeeMe over a
modem line is that you really understand how badly it was designed for
transmitting still images over a modem line." :)

> When you put something out on the net for general use you
>really have to think about how it will be used and safeguard against

When you find something on the net and try to employ it for general
use, *you* really have to think about using its responsibly. Final
responsibility lies with the end user. E.g., statistics here consistently
show that the most popular Usenet groups are devoted to pictures of naked
people. I would guess that 100's of megabits of that material criss-cross
the Internet daily. Should the creators of Usenet software be held
responsible by those who consider this a waste of bandwidth? Should they
have withheld distribution of the software pending development of features
to automatically detect and delete such material when bandwidth was
Though I disagree with you in principle on this matter, your point is
well taken pragmatically. The better CU-SeeMe behaves under congested
conditions, the more widely useful it will be. I suppose that we could
have focused first on providing a more universally applicable tool, and
then turned our attention to improving it's performance under higher
bandwidth conditions. But, frankly, I'm not sure anyone would have
believed that little black and white pictures at 14.4 kbps could be of any
value at all, if some experience hadn't first shown that 80 kbps Internet
video was useful.
Finally, the only way we are going to see increases in bandwidth
capacity is if we use what's there. This is a bit of a simplification, but
the folks that own the fiber plant just want to get there $100,000/month.
If they think we'll use 1 Mbit, they'll charge $100,000/Mbit....if they
think we'll use 100 Mbit, they'll charge $1000/Mbit. In the era of fiber
optics, most of the expenses have little to do with how much data is
actually moved. Of course, there are some arcane government policies, and
entrenched monopolies to contend with, so it's not going to be an easy
transition. But, obviously, prices aren't going to come down until we
demonstrate that what is lost in price can be made up for in volume.

Tim Dorcey
Sr. Programmer/Analyst (607) 255-5715
Advanced Technologies & Planning
CIT Network Resources
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14850