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Implications of Internet Architecture upon Net Neutrality


Net neutrality represents the idea that Internet users are entitled to service that does not discriminate on the basis of source, destination, or ownership of Internet traffic. The United States Congress is considering legislation on net neutrality, and debate over the issue has generated intense lobbying. Congressional action will substantially affect the evolution of the Internet and of future Internet research. In this article, we argue that neither the pro nor anti net neutrality positions are consistent with the philosophy of Internet architecture. We develop a net neutrality policy founded on a segmentation of Internet services into infrastructure services and application services, based on the Internet's layered architecture. Our net neutrality policy restricts an Internet service Provider's ability to engage in anticompetitive behavior while simultaneously ensuring that it can use desirable forms of network management. We illustrate the effect of this policy by discussing acceptable and unacceptable uses of network management.

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