Network Neutrality and Consumer Demand for 'Better than Best Efforts' Traffic Management
31 Pages Posted: 29 May 2015
Date Written: May 28, 2015
This paper assesses whether and how ISPs can offer quality of service enhancements, at premium prices for full motion video, while still complying with the new rules and regulations established by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) in March, 2015. The paper explains that having made the controversial decision to reclassify all forms of Internet access as a telecommunications service, the FCC increases regulatory uncertainty. In particular, the FCC has failed to identify instances where “retail ISPs,” serving residential broadband subscribers, can offer quality of service enhancements that serve real consumer wants without harming competition and the ability of most content to arrive on a timely basis using conventional “best efforts” routing.
The paper notes that the FCC does allow carriers operating upstream from retail ISPs to offer “paid prioritization” of traffic. Additionally it appears that content providers and distributors, such as Netflix, also can secure “better than best efforts” routing of their traffic to achieve the same quality of service enhancement. Despite allowing these large exceptions to its prohibition on paid prioritization, the FCC prohibits retail ISPs based on the premise that these carriers provider access to all points within the Internet cloud and ventures such as Content Distribution Networks and even major backbone providers do not.
The paper suggests that the FCC issue a clarification stating that retail ISPs, like their upstream counterparts, can provide video delivery enhancements that do not degrade conventional best efforts routing, or prioritize traffic in ways designed to disadvantage competitors and harm consumers.
Keywords: network neutrality, open Internet, FCC, best efforts routing, better than best efforts routing, Internet Protocol Television, Over the Top, broadband, next generation networks
JEL Classification: k23, l51, l82, l86, l96, l98, o33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation