Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Small-World or Scale-Free Phenomena in Internet: What Implications for the Next-Generation Networks?

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

Small-World or Scale-Free Phenomena in Internet: What Implications for the Next-Generation Networks?

Article excerpt


The paper examines the large-scale topological structure of the Internet in order to see whether the structure exhibits some features that lead Internet Services Providers to go aside further collaboration for the deployment of next-generation networks. The results indicate the existence of positive signs or early stages of possible move towards more cooperative relationships, mainly among backbones. These findings have implications for the next-generation networks policy and strategy, particularly the move towards strategic alliances after the recent phase of mergers and acquisitions.

Keywords: Next-generation networks, Internet, Alliances, Small-world, Scale-free, Internet services providers

1. Introduction

The debate in the literature about the next-generation networks rotates around two major issues relating to the evolution of economic business models and of regulations (see for example (Frieden, 2003, 2007). Whether the debate on regulation seems of most concern in the United States, while European institutions and Japanese government are just beginning to focus on (Cave et al., 2009; Wallsten and Hausladen, 2009, Cave 2010; Ruhle and Lundborg, 2010), it is important to consider the impact of any changes on the future of the industry. Further, the debate emphasizes two opposite views, which could be dealing with the 'Net Neutrality' controversy or neutrality restrictions. On the one side, some are against Net neutrality. They argue that Net neutrality rules would reduce incentives to upgrade networks and launch next generation network services. They underline that in the absence of Net neutrality pricing would be more flexible and Quality of Service (QoS) better achieved (Felten, 2006; Lessig, 2006; Hahn and Wallsten, 2006; Clarke, 2009). This argument is supported by Internet broadband providers AT&T, Verizon and a number of TV companies. On the other side, others are against discrimination and support Net neutrality because of its primary importance to the preservation of current freedom (Economides and Tåg, 2007; Caves et al., 2009). They believe that broadband providers will use their market power to block the applications they do not favour and will also discriminate between contents providers (i.e. websites, services, protocols). This argument is supported by large web content companies such as Google, Yahoo or MSN.

Going along these debates, several questions could be raised. Who should bear the cost of the new-generation infrastructure? How can Quality of Service be achieved efficiently? How can cooperation and trust be strengthened between operators?

To answer these questions we need firstly to start to study the topological structure of ISPs' relationships. In other words, to see whether the current structure of interconnection network between ISPs exhibit some features that enable to go for further collaboration, and at which level of the structure this is more likely to occur. Though some studies have examined the topological structure of Internet (Amaral et al., 2000; Barabási, 2002; Vásquez et al.,2002; Yan and Assimakopoulos, 2009), to the best of my knowledge, none has addressed the strategic implications.

We argue our approach or method by two points. First, ISPs are already bound by a preliminary agreement of collaboration through peering agreements. Indeed, to achieve universal connectivity and exchange traffic Internet providers have to settle interconnection agreements. Interconnection agreements are of two sorts: peering and transit. Whether transit agreement involves a fees payment by customer to provider, a peering agreement is a bilateral peer-to-peer relationship where Internet providers do not charge each other for terminating traffic. It involves the exchange traffic for free between them. Therefore, the peering agreement could be considered as a preliminary agreement of collaboration between two Internet providers. Second, some recent studies have shown that asymmetric effect was one major factor that has a negative and significant impact on tying a peering agreement (Carter and Wright, 2003; Weiss and Shin, 2004; Badasyan and Chakrabarti, 2008; Shrimali and Kumar, 2008; Jahn and Prüfer, 2008; Lippert and Spagnalo, 2008). …

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