Network Neutrality versus Paid Prioritization: Analyzing the Impact on Content Innovation
53 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2012 Last revised: 7 Sep 2015
Date Written: August 18, 2015
We examine the link between network neutrality and content innovation on the Internet by comparing the impact of network neutrality and packet discrimination regimes on content innovation. We do this in the context of a two-sided market model that simultaneously considers content provider and consumer decisions concerning market entry and participation while taking into account consumers’ response to network congestion. We find that content innovation flourishes under network neutrality to a greater degree than under packet discrimination due to two effects we uncover: the generation of what we call a pro bono innovation zone in which content providers are able to enter the market without contributing to network provider profits; and the cross-side congestion effect, a negative network externality wherein higher broadband coverage levels result in greater congestion for content providers, and increased content results in greater congestion for consumers, taking into account consumers’ strategic response to network congestion. These results have important implications for current public policy debates regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Rules.
Keywords: Network Neutrality, Paid Prioritization, Content Innovation, Broadband Coverage, Social Welfare
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