I recently published a blog entry on the Net Neutrality Game. However, I just found out that there is a critical aspect of the net neutrality issue that I failed to understand, namely that involving deep packet inspection (DPI). Using DPI methods, Internet providers have the capabilities of detecting not only the size of files passing through their lines, but also the content as well. Clearly, there is a world of difference between managing flows of traffic based solely on file size, and managing flows of files based on the type and content of the files.
Since my previous blog post failed to account for DPI, it missed a significant aspect of the Game. I am now working on better understanding the implications of DPI and incorporating them into my model of the Net Neutrality Game. A future blog post will present this analysis.
Fortunately, this does not mean my previous analysis of the Net Neutrality Game was a complete waste of time. (!) On the contrary. The Heart of the Matter is still the issue of how to allocate scarce bandwidth across users and content. If we want to decide whether or not net neutrality is a good idea, we need to understand what the potential alternatives are that address the issue of how to allocate scarce bandwidth capacity and how their outcomes compare to that associated with net neutrality. The alternatives include
- Net Neutrality -- that is allocation of bandwidth based purely on a first-come, first-served basis = per-user based Internet access fees.
- Allocation of bandwidth based on priority of service or file size = per-usage or other "quality" based Internet access fees.
- Allocation of bandwidth based on other factors available through the use of DPI.
The game discussed in my previous blog entry compares the outcomes under the first two alternatives. My next blog entry will examine the third scenario and see how that compares with the others.
This confirms my previous notion that no knowledge is ever wasted!!