In fact, the Internet has changed drastically over the past ten years

The radical change of the Internet in the past ten years

In the overall arguments and counter-arguments about proposing the fair contribution of large traffic generators to the cost they incur in telecom networks, there is one that deserves special attention. It is often stated that this issue was addressed over ten years ago and failed to gain the necessary support moving forward, and since nothing has changed, it does not make sense to bring it up again ten years later. To claim that nothing has changed on the Internet in the past 10 years is surprising.

The fact is that in the past ten years Everything has changed On the Internet: The structure of the Internet has changed, business models have changed, traffic has grown exponentially, and the balance between the companies that make up the Internet ecosystem has changed.

From the initial Internet, based on websites, with a large number of companies, a balanced ecosystem between producers and consumers of content, and the telecom operators who transmit that content, the past decade has seen the consolidation of an Internet dominated by a very few companies: the massive. Thanks to their business acumen andThe winner takes it all“The trend in online business models, these companies have achieved such a dominant position in the Internet ecosystem that by 2022 it is already indisputable and indisputable is giving rise to a structural problem that requires a solution. This situation has led to regions such as the European Union by promoting legislative responses such as the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

If there is no denying this fact, all companies and authorities involved in the future and smooth functioning of the digital ecosystem must take into account that the time has come to revise some of the rules and models that were agreed upon at the beginning of the Internet era, and that it is no longer appropriate for the reality of 2022. It is time to lay a more solid foundation for the new era of the Internet than the current era, which can only be done based on understanding the structure and development of the Internet.

Elementary Internet Engineering

The Internet is a network of networksIt consists of thousands of interconnected networks. The interconnection architecture of networks on the Internet was initially hierarchical. There were 3 levels of networks: Level 1 was global networks linking them ensures full access to any content or any user anywhere in the world; Level 2 complies with regional networkswhile Level 3 was it local networks to which Internet users, content providers, and applications (CAPs) are connected. Level 1 is what is traditionally known as the Internet Backbones.

In the early stage of the Internet, application and content providers and users connected to an operator providing Internet access service, which was responsible for connecting to a higher-level operator to achieve the transition to the global Internet.

Internet engineering

As can be seen, the interconnection between the different networks that make up the Internet has been done using two different services. When a lower level network connects to a higher level network, it pays for the so-called Transit service. This service allows the user of this network to reach any destination or access any content hosted on any network connected to the Internet. Networks at the same level can also connect to each other directly using the so-called symmetry agreement. By directly connecting two networks, the use of a shuttle service is avoided. This service gave direct access to the users and content of the two interconnected networks but did not provide visibility to the users and content of other networks.

On a commercial level, in transmission agreements, the “downstream” network paid the “upstream” network for the service. in contrast, Symmetry conventions It is based on unregulated criteria on the number of users and content providers per network and on the traffic exchanged. Since operators seeking interconnection tended to have similar network structures, the services – and associated costs – provided to each other were comparable. The implicit assumption of network symmetry (particularly symmetry in access networks) and costs has led to liberation in many cases symmetry Arrangements based on the assumption that payments made to cover costs incurred on the counterparty’s network will be deducted from payments received from that counterparty. The traffic exchange symmetry parameter in this early Internet model became a guiding criterion in negotiating traffic symmetry agreements.

Flattening the Internet’s architecture

The architecture of the Internet had to adapt to new needs arising from the exponential growth of video (or video flow). Several elements have been introduced over the years that have fundamentally changed the structure of the Internet. On the other hand, video demanded capabilities that the Internet infrastructure could not provide. This led to the introduction of one component, CDNs (content delivery networks), Zipper Video distribution specialists That reduced the need to increase capacity on higher-level networks (1 and 2), reduced latency (the time it takes for content to reach the end user), and thus improved user experience. On the other hand, with the growth of superblockchains and the consolidation of their platform model, they began to build their own selective transport networks (at the most profitable levels) and their own selective CDN infrastructure.

Bring this change Complete transformation of the technical architecture of the Internet. However, the interconnection business model associated with the initial Internet architecture has not been able to evolve. None of the interconnection rules that were established for the initial Internet were changed. Or rather we can say that the supervillains did not allow these rules to change, given the benefit they derive from this model of interdependence, taking advantage of their undisputed dominance of the market to impose rules and conditions.

With the introduction of these elements, the Internet has evolved over the past ten years into a flatter web where elementary levels and hierarchies disappear. Those who have reached a dominant position and sufficient commercial scale to do so, connect directly to the networks of several operators at their lowest cost levels, bypassing the transport networks, But not as Internet usersas they did in the first stage, butstaff” using symmetry agreements. Creating their own infrastructure has allowed super-specialists to avoid paying not only the costs of transmission over the Internet, but also the cost of distributing their content, thus gaining a competitive advantage over other players who do not have a dominant position and therefore cannot force free peering. agreements.

The structure of the Internet has become very centralized and relies on a few players, who are the high caliber.

Flattening the Internet's architecture

Internet users, telecom operators or content providers?

The majority of Internet transit traffic is now generated by large block count surpluses. In addition, the delivery of its content to end consumers bypasses the traditional hierarchy of the Internet. Today 3 of the top 5 Internet transit connectivity providers are highly qualified. These companies can access most networks directly without going through the Internet hierarchy.

Definitely time to ask if Internet giants are connectivity providers Under the supervision of national regulatory agencies and subject to their decisions, or they Application and content providers, or Internet users, obligated to pay the connection service fee received. What role should they play in the Internet’s interconnection model?

The advantage of not paying for the use of operators’ networks

When the traffic increased from the high-speed large, when these companies reached the collection of most of the Internet traffic, they created their own network to avoid transit fees. They have reduced their level of contact with local operators under traditional conditions and Connected To other networks by imposing freedom symmetry.

These companies became a “class” that was not initially envisioned in the Internet’s interconnection model: they stopped using the Internet and became “private” network operators They have neither an access network nor a national network, but with content that has given them a clearly dominant position in negotiations symmetry agreements.

It is necessary to understand it When negotiating a superpower a symmetry Agreement with a telecom operator, it does so under the same principles on which it is based symmetry Agreements are negotiated between operators. Providing essential content and apps (due to consumer demand) gives them bargaining power that usually results in free symmetry agreements. They claim the advantage of not having to pay to use the traffic transfer service provided by the operators.

This does not appear to be indicative of balanced bargaining power between the two operators and the super spreaders. Instead, it shows a distortion of the market that by not adapting to the development of the Internet can only lead to an unsustainable situation, dominated by a few companies that set the rules and conditions and that manage to capture most of the value generated in the digital ecosystem.

Conflating the reality of networking with the reality of super volatility in the interconnection market has distorted the market. The current definition of the Internet interconnection market is no longer relevant, because it does not take into account the reality of the new interconnection model based on CDN And the Cloud Infrastructure for hyperscalers.

As this situation was never envisioned in the original Internet model, it should lead us to believe that the time has come to consider whether this is the right basis for financing the investment efforts that telecom operators face to roll out national backbone networks and access.

The primary discussion on how to build a fairer and more sustainable digital ecosystem

The debate about the fair share of big internet companies is the debate about the need to revise assumptions that were agreed upon in the 90s and that 30 years later are still being applied to an internet that bears little resemblance to the internet that originated in the 90s.

It is legitimate that the companies most favored by these rules want to keep them even in the era of Web 3.0, but there is a broad global consensus that to ensure a more fair and balanced Internet ecosystem, these rules must be revised. Legitimate counterarguments to telecom operators’ claims must be based on data and facts from today’s Internet, not an Internet that no longer exists.

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