A couple of months ago, I asked you to share your experiences with regards to public
regulation of internet interconnection in a survey. Many networkers from around the globe
participated. Thank you!
The report has now been published. I’m including the executive summary below. The full
paper can be downloaded at
<http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2740312>. Feel free to share
this link wherever you see fit.
Thanks again for providing your highly valuable input. I will be happy to hear what you
think about the results.
# Exploring the regulatory conditions of internet interconnection
## Executive summary
Network interconnection is a central feature of the internet that has been subject to only
little formal regulation. However, local public regulation is starting to emerge – be it
through disclosure regulations, mandatory peering or licensing terms. Due to the networked
nature of the internet, local rules may acquire a global scope.
This report explores internet interconnection professionals’ encounters with public
regulation and it provides an initial overview about how this regulation affects internet
connectivity. On the basis of a convenience sample of 163 survey submissions, the
following has been found:
* Nine out of ten kinds of regulation presented to the participants have been encountered
by more than half of them. This result gives reason to revisit the widespread notion that
internet interconnection is an unregulated space. 66% of the participants have encountered
a regulatory authority that imposes its own technical or operational standards. Moreover,
imposition of regulatory standards was regarded to be the most influential on internet
interconnection practices, together with competition laws (both 67%).
* Local regulation of internet interconnection creates a tension between the regulated and
the unregulated space in the internet. In order to overcome the normative difference,
network operators need to make an extra effort. The degree to which network operators are
affected by local regulation depends on a networks’ structure rather than on its size.
Local regulation raises more difficulties for the kinds of infrastructural innovations
that depend on having many points of presence.
* For networkers, public regulation of internet interconnection is relevant in three
thematic domains: 1) in the economies of internet interconnection, 2) in engineering and
operations, and 3) in the modes of governance.
* Overarching observations note that public regulation of internet interconnection
contributes to a formalisation of the otherwise very informal sector. It also shines a
spotlight on how networks are categorised and are thereby “prepared” for the application
of regulation. Further, various examples highlight how regulatory authorities co-opt
internet infrastructure for new policy purposes that were previously not understood as
central to internet operations, e.g., data retention.
* Local networkers value the presence of international network operators not only as
potential peering partners but also as mediators for know-how about best practices and
advanced modes of internet interconnection.
* Networkers are very critical about regulations that contradict engineering principles.
The most accepted forms of regulation also apply in other societal spheres: basic rights
for citizens, e.g., for broadband, and competition regulation.
Uta Meier-Hahn | Doctoral Researcher
Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society
Französische Straße 9 | 10117 Berlin
Phone +49 30 200 760-82 | http://www.hiig.de/en