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Net Neutrality, Exclusivity Contracts, and Internet Fragmentation


  • Frago Kourandi

    () (Regulatory Authority for Energy, 11854 Athens, Greece; and Athens University of Economics and Business, 10434 Athens, Greece)

  • Jan Krämer

    () (University of Passau, 94032 Passau, Germany)

  • Tommaso Valletti

    () (Business School, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom)


Net neutrality (NN) is believed to prevent the emergence of exclusive online content, which yields Internet fragmentation. We examine the relationship between NN regulation and Internet fragmentation in a game-theoretic model that considers the interplay between termination fees, exclusivity, and competition between two Internet service providers (ISPs) and between two content providers (CPs). An exclusivity arrangement between an ISP and a CP reduces the CP’s exposure to some end users, but it also reduces competition over ads among the CPs. Fragmentation arises in equilibrium when competition over ads among the CPs is very strong, the CPs’ revenues from advertisements are very low, the content of the CPs is highly complementary, or the termination fees are high. We find that the absence of fragmentation is always beneficial for consumers, because they can enjoy all available content. Policy interventions that prevent fragmentation are thus good for consumers. However, results for total welfare are more mixed. A zero-price rule on traffic termination is neither a sufficient nor a necessary policy instrument to prevent fragmentation. In fact, regulatory interventions may be ineffective or even detrimental to welfare and are only warranted under special circumstances.

Suggested Citation

  • Frago Kourandi & Jan Krämer & Tommaso Valletti, 2015. "Net Neutrality, Exclusivity Contracts, and Internet Fragmentation," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 26(2), pages 320-338, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:orisre:v:26:y:2015:i:2:p:320-338

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    Cited by:

    1. Sedlmeir, Joachim & Hopf, Stefan & Neuburger, Rahild & Picot, Arnold, 2017. "Convergent Digital Infrastructures and the Role of (Net-)Neutrality," 28th European Regional ITS Conference, Passau 2017 169497, International Telecommunications Society (ITS).
    2. I. Vogelsang, 2015. "Will the U.S. and EU telecommunications policies converge? A survey," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 42(2), pages 117-155, June.
    3. Shane Greenstein & Martin Peitz & Tommaso Valletti, 2016. "Net Neutrality: A Fast Lane to Understanding the Trade-Offs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 127-150, Spring.
    4. repec:eee:indorg:v:52:y:2017:i:c:p:358-392 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Peitz, Martin & Schuett, Florian, 2016. "Net neutrality and inflation of traffic," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 16-62.
    6. Baake, Pio & Sudaric, Slobodan, 2018. "Net Neutrality, Prioritization and the Impact of Content Delivery Networks," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 102, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    7. Broos, Sébastien & Gautier, Axel, 2014. "Competing one-way essential complements: the forgotten side of net neutrality," CORE Discussion Papers 2014064, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    8. D'Annunzio, Anna & Russo, Antonio, 2015. "Net Neutrality and internet fragmentation: The role of online advertising," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 30-47.
    9. Pierre Coucheney & Patrick Maillé & Bruno Tuffin, 2014. "Network neutrality debate and ISP inter-relations: traffic exchange, revenue sharing, and disconnection threat," Netnomics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 155-182, November.
    10. Antonio Russo & Anna D'Annunzio, 2013. "Network Neutrality, Access to Content and Online Advertising," KOF Working papers 13-344, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    11. Vogelsang Ingo, 2013. "The Endgame of Telecommunications Policy? A Survey," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 64(3), pages 193-270, December.


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