Whither the Public Internet?

33 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2018 Last revised: 4 Oct 2018

See all articles by William Lehr

William Lehr

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL)

David D. Clark

MIT CSAIL

Steven Bauer

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS)

Arthur Berger

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Philipp Richter

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: March 16, 2018

Abstract

This paper addresses the question of what should be meant by the phrase the Internet, or equivalently, the public Internet. Since its origins in the 1960s, the Internet has changed significantly in terms of the networks and technologies, services that are supported, and industry players who participate in the Internet ecosystem, growing in global economic and social importance. This paper discusses the changing role of the network operators and service providers that support the public Internet, and the relationship between what might be considered the public Internet and other elements of the global infrastructure. Herein, we explain why the quest for a single definition for the Internet is likely a fool's errand, while recognizing that there remains a need to understand what the concept means in light of its growing importance as a topic of policy concern. Instead of a definition, we propose a three-lens framework through which to evaluate technical and market trends that are changing the Internet and assist in determining whether those changes are or are not consistent with what we view as worth preserving in that which we refer to as the Internet.

Keywords: Public Internet, Interconnection, Peering, Communications Policy, Regulation

JEL Classification: L5, K23, L96, L82, L86

Suggested Citation

Lehr, William and Clark, David D. and Bauer, Steven and Berger, Arthur and Richter, Philipp, Whither the Public Internet? (March 16, 2018). TPRC 46: The 46th Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3141969 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3141969

William Lehr (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) ( email )

Stata Center
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

David D. Clark

MIT CSAIL ( email )

Stata Center
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-6003 (Phone)

Steven Bauer

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) ( email )

United States

Arthur Berger

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Philipp Richter

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

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