Research Handbook on Governance of the Internet
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Research Handbook on Governance of the Internet

Edited by Ian Brown

The internet is now a key part of everyday life across the developed world, and growing rapidly across developing countries. This Handbook provides a comprehensive overview of the latest research on internet governance, written by the leading scholars in the field.
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Chapter 6: Network neutrality and network management regulation: quality of service, price discrimination, and exclusive contracts

Nicholas Economides and Joacim Tåg


The topic of network neutrality regulation is both important and controversial. The issue concerns mainly two questions. First, should the networks that provide last mile access to residential users be able to manage or restrict the packets of data flowing through their networks in a way so that some types of packets or packets from certain content providers are favored? Second, should the network operators be allowed to charge content and applications providers’ fees for faster access to consumers (either through a dedicated last mile line or through obtaining prioritized access)? Proponents of network neutrality regulations fear that without regulation, network operators will be in a position to favor their own content, pick the winners among content providers, create artificial congestion in the last mile, reduce the availability of content and negatively affect innovation incentives for content providers “at the edge” of the internet. Opponents of network neutrality regulations argue that the ability to manage and restrict traffic on their lines is needed to ensure efficient use of the network and to ensure Quality of Service (QoS). They also state that revenue from charging content providers for faster access is needed to encourage new investments in network infrastructure.

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