Understanding the culture of operational networking can help to illuminate the question of why QoS has floundered. Network administrators have a well-founded aversion to complexity, in part because they experience failures attributable to design complexity on a regular basis. I argue that IP multicast defines a functional limit-case for deployable complexity in today’s Internet. That limit is relevant to the deployment of QoS, since many flavors of QoS entail equal or greater complexity. The notion of a functional constraint on complexity draws attention to the economic, historical, and institutional forces which influence the fate of networking technologies. QoS will not be compelling for most network administrators until its design takes account of these forces. Categories and Subject Descriptors C.2.1 [Computer-Communication Networks]: Networ
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