Perspectives on Net Neutrality and Internet Fast-Lanes

By: 
Hassan Habibi Gharakheiliy, Arun Vishwanath, Vijay Sivaramany
Appears in: 
CCR January 2016

"Net neutrality" and Internet "fast-lanes" have been the subject of raging debates for several years now, with various viewpoints put forth by stakeholders (Internet Service Providers, Content Service Providers, and consumers) seeking to influence how the Internet is regulated. In this paper we summarize the perspectives on this debate from multiple angles, and propose a fresh direction to address the current stalemate. Our first contribution is to highlight the contentions in the net neutrality debate from the viewpoints of technology (what mechanisms do or do not violate net neutrality?), economics (how does net neutrality help or hurt investment and growth?), and society (do fast-lanes disempower consumers?). Our second contribution is to survey the state-of-play of net neutrality in various regions of the world, highlighting the influence of factors such as consumer choice and public investment on the regulatory approach taken by governments. Our final contribution is to propose a new model that engages consumers in fast-lane negotiations, allowing them to customize fast-lane usage on their broadband link. We believe that our approach can provide a compromise solution that can break the current stalemate and be acceptable to all parties.