Paid Peering: Pricing and Adoption Incentives
Large access providers (ISPs) are seeking for new types of business agreements and pricing models to manage network costs and monetize better the provision of last-mile services. A typical paradigm of such new pricing norms is the proliferation of paid peering deals between ISPs and content providers (CPs), while on top of this, some ISPs are already experimenting with usage-based tariffs, usually through data-plans, instead of the typical fixed-based charging. In this work we define as common platform, the infrastructure in which a single ISP transacts with several CPs through peering agreements. In this context, we examine whether, and under which market conditions, the profitability of the involved stakeholders improves when the establishment of this platform is accompanied by a monetary compensation from the CPs to the ISP (paid peering), v.s. a scenario where their deal is a typical settlement-free one. In both cases, we assume that the ISP implements a usage-based access pricing scheme, implying that end-users will pay more for higher transaction rates with the CPs. Our framework captures some of the most important details of the current market, such as the various business models adopted by the CPs, the end-users' evaluation towards the ISP's and CPs' level of investments and the traffic rates per transaction for the offered services. By analysing the equilibrium derived by a leader-follower game, it turns out (among other practical takeaways) that whether or not the profitability of a CP improves, it highly depends on whether its business model is to sell content, or if it obtains its revenue from advertisements. Finally, we extract that consumer surplus is considerably higher under paid peering, which in turn implies improved levels of social welfare.
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