Wireless Networks: Technological Challenges and Policy Implications
45 Pages Posted: 6 Nov 2013
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: Suggested Citation