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The evolution of Internet interconnection from hierarchy to “Mesh”: Implications for government regulation

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  • Besen, Stanley M.
  • Israel, Mark A.

Abstract

The Internet has evolved from a “hierarchy”—in which interconnection was achieved by having Internet Service Providers (ISPs) purchase transit services from top-level backbones and top-level backbone providers engage in direct settlement-free peering—to a “mesh” in which peering occurs among a much larger number of participants and some peering arrangements involve payments from one peer to another. In this new environment, backbone providers, ISPs, and suppliers of content have a far wider array of interconnection alternatives, both technical and financial, than they did only a short time ago. As is often the case, the introduction of new alternatives and contractual arrangements has led to calls to regulate which alternatives and arrangements are acceptable. In this paper, we explain why such regulation would be harmful, as it would (i) reduce the incentives of industry participants to minimize total costs; (ii) lead to higher access prices to end users; (iii) result in prices that do not adequately reflect costs; and (iv) create regulatory inefficiencies. We also explain why the alternative interconnection arrangements to which Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) (and their content provider clients) and ISPs generally have access already impose limits on the exercise of market power, thus obviating any need for regulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Besen, Stanley M. & Israel, Mark A., 2013. "The evolution of Internet interconnection from hierarchy to “Mesh”: Implications for government regulation," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 235-245.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:25:y:2013:i:4:p:235-245
    DOI: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2013.07.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peyman FARATIN & David CLARK & Steven BAUER & William LEHR & Patrick GILMORE & Arthur BERGER, 2008. "The Growing Complexity of Internet Interconnection," Communications & Strategies, IDATE, Com&Strat dept., vol. 1(72), pages 51-72, 4th quart.
    2. Lippert, Steffen & Spagnolo, Giancarlo, 2008. "Internet peering as a network of relations," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 33-49, February.
    3. Timothy Dunne & Xiaoyi Mu, 2010. "Investment Spikes And Uncertainty In The Petroleum Refining Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 190-213, March.
    4. Bulan, Laarni T., 2005. "Real options, irreversible investment and firm uncertainty: New evidence from U.S. firms," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3-4), pages 255-279.
    5. Hans-Ulrich Derlien & B. Guy Peters, 2008. "Introduction," Chapters,in: The State at Work, Volume 2, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. repec:reg:rpubli:578 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:645-667 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Timothy Dunne & Xiaoyi Mu, 2010. "Investment Spikes And Uncertainty In The Petroleum Refining Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 190-213, March.
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