Network neutrality in the internet as a two sided market constituted by congestion sensitive end users and content providers

Kaplanlıoğlu, Özgür
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Graduate School
In this paper, I envision a two-sided market mediated by a monopolistic internet service provider, ISP. The ISP provides end-users internet access and carries content providers' (CPs') data packages on its network. I compare the case where network neutrality is strictly practiced with the case where the ISP can "throttle" the traffic of certain content providers. In the model, for simplicity, a single CP is exposed to throttling, while the other CPs, which are part of a continuum, are not. I then study the implications of the violation of network neutrality on total data consumption, congestion, and capacity investment. Under network neutrality, the decision variables of the ISP are end-user price and network bandwidth. I found that, in equilibrium, because of the monopolistic nature of the market is greater than the price under competitive equilibrium, and is lower than its socially optimum value. Thus, under neutrality, the ISP undersupplies both the capacity and the data. Under discrimination, the ISP is allowed to charge an access fee on unit bandwidth to one of the content providers (the discriminated CP). To reflect a scenario of great practical value, I choose the discriminated CP from one of the big OTTs such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, etc. In this setting, to access the network, the discriminated CP needs to buy bandwidth from the ISP. However, the bandwidth bought by the discriminated CP is not for exclusive usage of the discriminated CP. It rather acts as an upper bandwidth limit for the discriminated CP. Under discrimination, the decision variables of the ISP are the end-user price, the network bandwidth, and the bandwidth price. I found that when allowed the ISP always prefers to deviate from network neutrality by charging a positive price for bandwidth. Also, the ISP sets just enough to keep the discriminated CP in the market. Comparing the equilibrium outcomes, I show that under discrimination, the ISP charges a lower price to end-users. However, the discrimination also leads to less network bandwidth installed. Both the lower end-user price and the lower network bandwidth contribute to the congestion. Thus, under discrimination, the congestion is higher than under neutrality. Considering its adverse effects on the network bandwidth and congestion, although the end-user price is lower under discrimination, I recommend that the network neutrality principle should not be abolished.
Thesis(Ph.D.) -- Istanbul Technical University, Graduate School, 2023
Anahtar kelimeler
network neutrality, ağ tarafsızlığı, content providers, içerik üreticileri, end users, son kullanıcılar