Arrow: A flexible architecture for an accounting and charging infrastructure in the Next Generation Internet
Current pricing and charging methods for the Internet are not based on actual usage of this service, which leads to unfairness and more important, it does not deliver the right signals through financial incentives to network providers to upgrade critical links of their networks. The development of new multimedia applications and the convergence to an integrated services network will foster the tremendous growth of the Internet even more. With the Next Generation Internet not only technical services like bandwidth reservation will be introduced, but also new applications will emerge within the Internet. Charging the Internet in a fashion that provides feedback to users and providers has been proposed since the early '90s, however, only a few implementations and real-world examples are known today. This is due to subsidizing the Internet in its early stages and due to a technical development that did not care much about charging. With the recent redesign of the Internet protocol suite and discussions on multiple service classes in the Internet, architectures for charging and accounting have to be revisited, too. Economic models for the Internet cannot be tested fully and validated in non-real-world environments, because of the unknown user behavior. With this uncertainty over what models and pricing schemes to choose, it is evident that a specific charging and accounting platform will never be accepted by the community. In this paper a novel and flexible architecture for charging and accounting is proposed that provides a wide range of mechanisms and lets researchers experiment in an environment as close as possible to the targeted system. As a first step, four different pricing schemes are described, qualitatively assessed on the proposed platform, and a prototypical implementation performed. One of the economic models that have been implemented on Arrow is based on different service classes including reservation and recalculates prices dynamically depending on the traffic situation. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999
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