What's New in the Network Neutrality Debate
40 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2014
Date Written: September 26, 2014
For over ten years, academics, practitioners, policy makers, consumers and other stakeholders have debated whether and how governments should regulate the Internet with an eye toward promoting accessibility, affordability and neutrality. This issue has triggered grave concerns about the Internet’s ability to continue generating substantial and widespread benefits. Advocates for various outcomes have vastly different assessments about many baseline subjects including the viability of sustainable competition and self-regulation. Consumers become agitated and confused by different framing of the issues, particularly when participants in the Internet ecosystem cannot reach closure on interconnection and compensation issues. Increasingly these disputes trigger temporary degradation in service leaving consumers unclear why they cannot view “must see” video content free of congestion.
This paper will report on how the network neutrality/open Internet debate persists with an eye toward identifying new problems and opportunities for resolution. The paper concludes that developments in the Internet ecosystem will trigger more conflicts in the near term. Increasingly the Internet has become the primary broadband medium for information, communications and entertainment (“ICE”), including an ever increasing torrent of bit streams running from the Internet cloud downstream to individual subscribers served by “retail” Internet Service Providers (“ISP”) that install so-called first and last mile connections. Growing reliance on the Internet to deliver bandwidth intensive content to multiple screens has triggered more disputes on the technical way to interconnect networks as well as the financial compensation owed. How quickly parties can resolve their disputes will have a profound impact on whether governments need to intervene to ensure robust networks capable of accommodating ever increasing demand.
Keywords: network neutrality, open Internet, interconnection, peering, best efforts routing
JEL Classification: K23, K29, L86, L96, L98, O32, O33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation