Platform Models for Sustainable Internet Regulation

18 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2013 Last revised: 16 Aug 2013

See all articles by KC Claffy

KC Claffy

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

David D. Clark


Date Written: August 15, 2013


The dynamic nature of the telecommunications industry, with its rapidly changing technology and industry structure, presents a serious challenge to the theory and practice of regulation, which has a slower time scale and a tendency to embed assumptions about technology and industry into regulation. This paper proposes a model that attempts to capture two durable and persistent features of today's telecommunications ecosystem: the use of layered platforms to implement desired functionality; and interconnection between actors at different platform layers. We use platform theory, and in particular theories of multi-sided platforms (MSPs), to focus on key technical and business aspects of today's industry. We use an MSP-aware layered model of the ecosystem to explore several recent and impending innovations in the ecosystem that have been naively conflated with the global Internet, illuminate their differences, and describe how regulators could use our model to more rigorously consider them. Finally, to illustrate its potential as a baseline for future research, we briefly consider how this model can help scope consistent policy discourse of three open questions: specialized services, minimum quality regulations ("the dirt road'' problem), and structural separation.

Keywords: Internet, regulation, platform, interconnection

Suggested Citation

Claffy, KC C. and Clark, David D., Platform Models for Sustainable Internet Regulation (August 15, 2013). TPRC 41: The 41st Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy, Available at SSRN: or

KC C. Claffy

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

David D. Clark (Contact Author)

MIT CSAIL ( email )

Stata Center
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-6003 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics