Tuesday, April 10, 2007

net neutrality economics reading list

Some time ago, Tim Lee was asking for a reading list on the economics of net neutrality (among other things.) Over the past week, I wound up doing a lot of reading on that subject in the context of the AT&T/BellSouth merger. In the spirit of blazing a trail for others, here's an annotated bibliography.

None of these papers gets into heavy economics. If you're seeking quantitative models, confidence intervals, and empirical data, you won't find it among these articles, though you might find it in their citations. The lack of empirical data sometimes causes problems for the articles, such as when the author tries to compare the magnitude of two separate effects.
  • Tim Wu, The Broadband Debate, A User's Guide, 3 Journal on Telecommunications & High Technology Law 69 (2004), available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=557330. This paper is a good starting point. It does a reasonable job of laying out the various positions and identifying the main points of contention.
  • Christopher S. Yoo, Beyond Net Neutrality, 19 Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 1 (2005). A good second article. Lays out many of the economic objections to net neutrality.
  • Christopher S. Yoo, Would Mandating Broadband Network Neutrality Help or Hurt Competition, 3 Journal on Telecommunications & High Technology Law 23 (2004), available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=495502. Yoo's later Beyond Net Neutrality restates and expands most of the arguments in this paper--including paraphrasing the opening sentences--so I would suggest reading it, instead. But I couldn't find a copy of Beyond Net Neutrality on the Internet. So if you can't get to a law library to pick up an actual, paper copy of a journal, you can get many of the arguments here.
  • Rob Frieden, Network Neutrality or Bias?--Handicapping the Odds for a Tiered and Branded Internet, 29 Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal 171 (2007), draft available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=893649. Does a good job of discussing peering and transit agreements and the billing concerns behind them.
  • Barbara van Schewick, Torwards and Economic Framework for Network Neutrality Regulation, 5 Journal on Telecommunications & High Technonology Law 329 (2007), available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=812991. Contains an interesting discussion of effects a network provider with market power can have on complimentary markets and the associated incentives.
  • Christopher S. Yoo, Network Neutrality and the Economics of Congestion, 94 Georgetown Law Journal 1847 (2006). I would have liked deeper analysis. The article's thesis relies heavily on the economic effects of congestion, but it provides very little evidence that congestion in the network (as opposed to throttling at the endpoints) occurs often enough to be significant. I lost patience about the time the author began claiming that content delivery systems (i.e. akamizing) constitute putting functionality into the core of the network. I think you can safely skip this one unless you're seriously into congestive effects and economics.
  • Adam Thierer, Are "Dumb Pipe" Mandates Smart Public Policy? Vertical Integration, Net Neutrality, and the Network Layers Model, 3 Journal on Telecommunications & High Technology Law 275 (2005). Strong on advocacy, short on economic analysis. The author is both Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Media Freedom at the Progress & Freedom Foundation, which bills itself as a think tank. If it's economics you seek, this is probably not the article for you.
While looking for web sources for some of these articles, I also came across the Net Neutrality Reading Room at the Center for Democracy and Technology which also links to a number of sources and annotates many of them.

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