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A la carte: An Economic Framework for Multi-ISP Service Quality

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Estan, Cristian; Akella, Aditya; Banerjee, Suman
University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Computer Sciences
Internet quality of service is required by many applications such as interactive voice and video that could fuel the further growth of the network, but it is not widely available to end-users. While ISPs are providing QoS within VPNs, end-hosts connected to the public Internet and linked by paths that cross multiple ISPs can do little to influence the quality of the service for their traffic. Our core observation is that the existing contracts between networks are an obstacle to multi-ISP service quality because remote ISPs on the path of the traffic have no incentive to provide good service when needed. We propose `A la carte, an economic framework that addresses this problem. Among its properties are: 1) end-users can choose the ISPs their traffic flows through and the level of service within each ISP 2) end-users pay remote ISPs for their services, but need contracts only with the ISPs they connect to 3) the prices ISPs charge for various classes of traffic are static and public, thus the cost to the end-user is predictable 4) a scalable accounting framework reduces the trust one needs to place in remote ISPs and provides a detailed log of expenditures.
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