Impacts of Sponsored Data on Infrastructure Investments and Welfare
49 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2017 Last revised: 27 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 26, 2017
With increasing demand for wireless data and new requirements to uphold “net neutrality”, internet service providers try new methods to ensure their profits. Sponsored content, the archetype of “Zero-Rating”, allows the content provider to pay for the accrued traffic instead of the customer.
This paper shows, using a theoretical model, that allowing sponsored content has ambiguous results both on infrastructure investments and net welfare.
Sponsored content may be used by the ISP to internalize additional profits of the content provider and thus motivate higher infrastructure investments, especially given very high network costs. However, given a sufficiently high profitability of the content provider, the internet service provider might be more interested in optimizing the income stream from the content provider than in the satisfaction of the consumer. This not only decreases net welfare but might also lead to an effective decrease in network capacity and net welfare.
Keywords: Net Neutrality, Two-Sided Markets, Sponsored Content, Sponsored Data, Zero Rating, Zero-Rating, ISP, Internet Service Provider
JEL Classification: D42, D60, L51, L86, L96
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation