Scott Jordan
Department of Computer Science University of California, Irvine
  Net Neutrality

Net neutrality represents the idea that Internet users are entitled to service that does not discriminate on the basis of source, destination, or ownership of Internet traffic. This idea has formed the basis for vigorous public policy debates over governmental regulation of the Internet or Internet access. Both the United States Congress and the Federal Communications Commission have been actively involved. The United States Congress is considering legislation on net neutrality. The Federal Communications Commission enacted a set of regulations with the goal of ensuring an Open Internet.

 

Net Neutrality

We argue that neither the extreme pro nor con net neutrality positions are consistent with the philosophy of Internet architecture. Our view is that the net neutrality issue is the result of a fragmented communications policy unable to deal with technology convergence. We develop a net neutrality policy based on the layered structure of the Internet that gracefully accommodates convergence. Our framework distinguishes between discrimination in high barrier-to-entry network infrastructure and in low barrier-to-entry applications. The policy prohibits use of Internet infrastructure to produce an uneven playing field in Internet applications. In this manner, the policy restricts an Internet service provider's ability to discriminate in a manner that extracts oligopoly rents, while simultaneously ensuring that ISPs can use desirable forms of network management. We illustrate how this net neutrality policy can draw upon current communications law through draft statute language. We believe this approach is well grounded in both technology and policy, and that it illustrates a middle ground that may even be somewhat agreeable to the opposing forces on this issue.

Our proposed layered approach to defining nondiscrimination rules that removes the need to define either “managed services” or what constitutes the “Internet portion” of a provider's offerings. We propose that any QoS mechanisms that an ISP implements in network infrastructure layers should be available to application providers without unreasonable discrimination. Requiring such an open interface can ensure that ISPs are prohibited from refusing to provide enabling Internet infrastructure services to competing application providers in order to differentiate the ISP's own application offerings, prohibited from providing Internet infrastructure services to competing application providers at inflated prices in order to favor the ISP's own application offerings, and prohibited from making exclusive deals to provide enabling Internet infrastructure services to certain application providers. It can also ensure that ISPs have the right to apply network management mechanisms that do not threaten a level playing field, and to make arrangements with consumers, application providers, and peering ISPs for Internet infrastructure services in a manner that does not conflict with the above goals.

This type of layered approach, requiring an open interface, is a more streamlined and more effective solution that carving out a set of managed services. There is no need to define what constitutes the “Internet portion” of a provider's offerings. There is also no need to define what constitutes “managed services”, as the open interface requires access to lower layer QoS mechanisms that enables real-time applications, rather than carving out real-time applications as an exception. The open interface thus encourages competition in managed services, rather than inhibiting such competition.

This paper is intended for people with a background in communications policy:

A Layered Network Approach to Net Neutrality, International Journal of Communication, Special Section on Net Neutrality, vol. 1, 2007.

This paper is intended for people with a technical background in networking:

Implications of Internet Architecture on Net Neutrality, ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, vol. 9 no. 2, May 2009, pp. 5:1-5:28.

 

Reasonable Traffic Management

As part of the wider debate over net neutrality, traffic management practices of Internet Service Providers have become an issue of public concern. The Federal Communications Commission has asked for public input on whether deep packet inspection and other traffic management practices are reasonable forms of network management. Little attention has been paid to this issue within the academic networking community, and most Internet policy researchers have recommended a case-by-case analysis.

In contrast, in these papers we propose a framework for the classification of traffic management practices as reasonable or unreasonable. To build the framework, we focus both on the technical aspects of traffic management techniques and on the goals and practices of an ISP that uses these techniques. The framework classifies traffic management practices as reasonable or unreasonable on the basis of the technique used and on the basis of how and when the techniques are applied. We suggest that whether a traffic management practice is reasonable largely rests on the answers to four questions regarding the techniques and practices used. We consider examples of how these techniques are used by ISPs, and how the answers to these four questions collectively affeect the degree to which a traffic management practice is reasonable. Based on these questions, we propose a framework that classifies techniques as unreasonable if they are unreasonably anti-competitive, cause undue harm to consumers, or unreasonably impair free speech.

We propose that traffic management practices are reasonable if they are implemented at endpoints, are chosen by the user, are based on reasonable application provider payment, or involve providing QoS to traffic chosen by the user. We propose that traffic management practices implemented in transit nodes without user choice are unreasonable if they block applications, assign QoS based on source, destination or service provider, or assign QoS based on unreasonable application provider payment. We suggest that QoS based on the application can be more effectively implemented by allowing the user to determine the priority of his/her applications, and we suggest that any charges for QoS can be most effectively implemented by integrating them into subscriber contracts and into the Service Level Agreements between ISPs, rather than by charging application providers that are not subscribers.

This paper is intended for people with a background in communications policy:

How to Determine Whether a Traffic Management Practice is Reasonable (with A. Ghosh), Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy (TPRC), Arlington, Virginia, September 2009.

This paper is intended for people with a technical background in networking:

A Framework for Classification of Traffic Management Policies as Reasonable or Unreasonable(with A. Ghosh), ACM Transactions on Internet Technology, vol. 10 no. 3, October 2010, pp. 12:1-12:23.

 

Wireless Net Neutrality

We analyze the technical differences between wired and wireless networks, and conclude that net neutrality, if properly defined, should apply to both networks. We furthermore conclude that wireless broadband access providers can effectively implement reasonable traffic management by controlling the amount of QoS of traffic, rather than by directly controlling what applications are used. We address whether differences between wired and wireless network technology merit different treatment with respect to net neutrality.

We are concerned with whether the challenges of wireless signals and mobility merit different traffic management techniques, and how these techniques may affect net neutrality. Although wireless networks require stronger traffic management, we find these differences are only at and below the network layer, and hence wireless broadband access providers can effectively control congestion without restricting a user’s right to run the applications of their choice.

We are also concerned with which wireless applications or services should be covered by a net neutrality requirement, and whether this requires the definition of managed services. We argue that since the differences between wired and wireless networks lie in lower layers, net neutrality in both wired and wireless networks can be effectively accomplished by requiring an open interface between network and transport layers. We argue that this is a more streamlined and more effective solution that carving out a set of managed services.

This paper is intended for people with a background in communications policy:

The Application of Net Neutrality to Wireless Networks Based on Network Architecture, Policy and Internet, vol. 2 issue 6, 2010, article 6.

This paper is intended for people with a technical background in networking:

Traffic Management and Net Neutrality in Wireless Networks, IEEE Transactions on Network and Service Management, vol. 8 no. 4, December 2011, pp. 297-309.

 

Advice to the FCC

Presentation to the FCC

Open Internet Technical Advisory Process Workshop on Broadband Network Management, December 8, 2009

Comment filed with the FCC regarding their Open Internet rulemaking

Comments of Professor Scott Jordan regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet and Broadband Industry Practices

Comments of Professor Scott Jordan regarding the Notice of Inquiry in the Matter of a Framework for Broadband Internet Service

Comments of Professor Scott Jordan and Gwen Shaffer regarding the Further Inquiry Into Two Under-Developed Issues in the Open Internet Proceeding

 

Portions of this work were supported by NSF. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or IEEE. This material is presented to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work. Copyright and all rights therein are retained by authors or by other copyright holders. All persons copying this information are expected to adhere to the terms and constraints invoked by each author's copyright. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Permission must be obtained from the copyright holder for systematic or multiple reproduction, distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means, duplication of any material in these papers for a fee or for commercial purposes, modification of the content of these papers, reprinting or republishing of this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, and to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works.

Scott Jordan last modified August 28, 2014 UCICSNetworked Systems