Wireless Networks: Technological Challenges and Policy Implications

45 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2013

See all articles by Christopher S. Yoo

Christopher S. Yoo

University of Pennsylvania Law School; University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication; University of Pennsylvania - School of Engineering and Applied Science

Date Written: November 6, 2013


Since June 2012, mobile wireless has emerged as the largest and fast growing medium for broadband service. At the same time, mobile wireless networks have proven considerably more difficult to manage than wireline networks. The primary causes are the rapid growth in demand for wireless bandwidth and the greater susceptibility of wireless networks to poor quality of service because of the omnidirectional propagation of wireless signals, bad handoffs, local congestion, and the susceptibility to complex interference patterns caused by multipath propagation. Moreover, the central inference underlying the primary form of congestion management is not valid for wireless networks. As a result, wireless networks adopt different approaches to error correction and congestion management than do wireline networks, which results in significantly heavier network management in ways that violate the Internet’s commitment to the absence of per-flow state and its supposed adherence to the absence of prioritization.

In addition, mobile networks put significant pressure on the routing architecture by requiring the use of Internet gateways for 3G networks, accelerating the pace with which the routing architecture changes, fragmenting the compactness of the address space, and relying on a mobile IP solution that depends on a home agent to serve as a proxy in the core of the network. Proposed solutions, such as the identity/locator split, represent significant deviations from the universal address architecture around which the current architecture is designed. These considerations support the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to subject wireless broadband to a less restrictive version of its rule against unreasonable discrimination in its Open Internet Order.

Keywords: Communications law, regulation, wireless broadband service, bandwidth constraints, congestion management, error correction, absence of per-flow state, prioritization, net neutrality, FCC, rule against unreasonable discrimination, Open Internet Order, routing architecture and addressing space

JEL Classification: K23, L52, L96

Suggested Citation

Yoo, Christopher S., Wireless Networks: Technological Challenges and Policy Implications (November 6, 2013). U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 13-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2350777 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2350777

Christopher S. Yoo (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.law.upenn.edu/faculty/csyoo/

University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication ( email )

3620 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6220
United States
(215) 746-8772 (Phone)

University of Pennsylvania - School of Engineering and Applied Science ( email )

3330 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6309
United States
(215) 746-8772 (Phone)

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