The Direction of Value Flow in Connectionless Networks
Bob Briscoe <email@example.com>
BT Research, B54/74, BT Labs, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, IP5 3RE, England.
Abstract: This paper argues
that all network providers in a connectionless multi-service network should
offer each class of their service to each neighbour for each direction
at a single price. This is called 'split-edge pricing'. If sets of customers
wish to reapportion their networking charges between themselves, this should
be tackled end-to-end. Edge reapportionment should not be muddled with
networking charges, as is the case in the telephony market. Avoiding the
telephony approach is shown to offer full reapportionment flexibility,
but avoids the otherwise inevitable network complexity, particularly for
multicast. 'Split-edge pricing' is recursive, applying as much to relationships
between providers as to edge-customers. Various scenarios are discussed,
showing the advantage of the approach. These include phone to Internet
gateways and even inter-domain multicast conferences with heterogeneous
QoS. The business model analysis suggests a new, purely financial role
of end-to-end intermediary in the Internet industry.
Keywords: Charging, pricing, clearing, end-to-end,
multi-service, multicast, connectionless, business models.
Traditionally, data communications has been sold so cheaply that charging
for it on usage basis has not seemed feasible or sensible. While flat-rate
subscription or connect-time charging prevails, the question of reapportioning
the value of a particular communication between its ends rarely surfaces.
With the possibility of variable quality of service (QoS) approaching,
the need for some form of usage-charging for high QoS has arisen. This
has led to new thinking on cheaper usage-charging systems for packet networks
which in turn has brought the issue of reapportionment of charges between
the end customers back into the limelight [Clark96].
However, to tackle this issue, the traditional model of a unit of communication
value is inadequate because it grew in the context of connection-oriented
telephone systems. Worse, it has often been misapplied to the connectionless
mind-set also leads to confusion over blame and liability for each unit
of communication. This paper explicitly clarifies these fundamental issues.
Our minimalist model for a connectionless network business has boundaries
that match the service access points above and below the network layer
of the OSI stack [Zimm80]. This business can be
modelled as buying in lower and higher layer services (e.g. links, virtual
connections or naming services). It still applies to ISPs that use their
own links and services - the cost just becomes internalised.
This paper proposes a simple
charging model that can be applied between any pair of multi-service connectionless
networks for each class of service and for send and receive separately.
It works whether the pair are both providers or even if one is an edge
customer. The model's simplicity ensures charging will always be straightforward
at every border in the Internet, whether for unicast or multicast flows.
No matter how many networks are connected together, any one network is
only dependent on prices from its direct neighbours. Therefore, the model
is intrinsically scalable. We call the model 'split edge pricing'. From
the end customers' points of view, this means that any flow through the
Internet is sold on entry and on exit. As a consequence, the model appears
to restrict all end customers to each have to pay the price of their local
network provider. This appears to restrict any customers who would rather
reapportion the costs differently between themselves (termed clearing).
Invariably, network providers
offer their services at a set price regardless of the value each customer
derives from each transmission. This is a natural consequence of a competitive
market, often called a "buyer's market". If usage-based charging is in
operation, no one bothers with any communication of less value than this
market price. However, transmissions naturally have at least two ends.
(In fact, we consider two-ended flows as just a specific case of multipoint
flows.) Often a transmission just never happens because one of the ends
derives less value than their local price. Often in such cases, the total
value derived from the transmission by all ends would have been greater
than the total charges levied by all providers on all end customers. Therefore,
it is in any network provider's interest to matchmake customers who derive
surplus value with those who would otherwise be in deficit. That is, clearing
plays an important role in encouraging network demand.
Matchmaking in the traditional
telephony market is well understood. Various ways are available for end
customers to share the cost of a call besides the normal 'originator pays'.
Examples are 'calls free to the originator', 'local charge only' etc. Telephony
interconnect arrangements ensure that wherever payment enters the system,
it ends up being cleared between the providers who bore the cost of each
call. However, the interconnect pricing scheme that drives clearing blurs
the distinction between clearing of edge payments and the market price
of interconnect. This paper argues that these over-complicated clearing
arrangements are the result of evolution from a fully connected matrix
of single country providers and are flawed for the Internet. Instead we
propose 'split-edge pricing' as a more flexible replacement. The apparent
problem of no flexibility to clear between the ends is solved simply. Clearing
can be achieved end-to-end, directly between customers or their edge providers,
bypassing the core network businesses. If instead, clearing follows the
same path as the data flow, we show that core network complexity becomes
inevitable, particularly for multicast, but also for unicast. Incidentally,
end-to-end clearing was never possible on the PSTN because there was no
convenient way to form independently routed end-to-end data connections
simultaneously to call progress. Clearly, this is possible on the
Clearing requirements will
differ on a per session basis, therefore the model where clearing takes
place end-to-end involves per-session accounting without involving the
network providers along the data path (other than those at the edge). Thus,
it seems natural for clearing to re-use existing e-commerce concepts and
mechanisms. This results in a scenario where the traditional telephone
bill becomes an anachronism for the Internet. Instead, edge-provider charges
can be settled by any other third party across the ends of a communication,
leaving the 'bill' as just the balance of those charges that are directly
retailed between the edge-provider and its edge-customer. E-commerce-based
clearing allows part of local customer A's usage to be 'wholesaled' to
remote customer B or to third party C. While part of customer B's usage
can be wholesaled to customer A and so on.
The cost of the act of clearing
is significant; therefore it is important that the default apportionment
in the core model matches the most common case. We establish that the common
case is where both senders and receivers pay, at all ends of each transmission.
This incidentally causes the perceived need for the network to report how
many receivers are subscribed to a multicast to evaporate. We then consider
the unpleasant fact that, on the Internet, a receiver can never protect
itself from being sent to. We suggest a rather novel business model that
is still optimised for the common case, but simultaneously has no receiver
liability. For completeness, we examine the specific problems with the
traditional clearing model used in telephony. The paper draws to a close
by working through some example scenarios to suggest how the models would
work in practice. Finally, limitations and further work are listed before
conclusions are drawn.
2. Related Work
Some authors state that they believe the business
model of the current fixed access rate Internet is "sender takes all" [ITU96,
This phrase is used to imply the sender's ISP receives all the revenue.
This is completely erroneous. ISP's rates relate to access bandwidth, regardless
of the direction in which it is used. Thus, "sender and receiver each take
half" is more appropriate (approximately). This is a similar position to
the half-circuit charging common for data links, but applied end-to-end.
al asserts that the blame for a transmission is impossible to determine
at the network level [MacKieVar92], an
argument that can descend into sophistry. However, later, using precise
definitions of the terms, we argue that the sender is always to blame for
a transmission in a connectionless network.
Clark analyses the apportionment
of charges between senders and receivers [Clark96],
and proposes an engineering solution, which he admits would introduce considerable
complexity to the Internet if implemented. Shenker et al describes
edge pricing [Shenker96], a business
model that appears regularly in communication networks and which forms
much of the background to this work.
3. The value of place
The value of communication concerns the incremental value of having information
in a certain place (or places) by a certain time, instead of or as well
as the original places. Usually, the more the information is worth, the
more value is placed on having it in the right places in a timely manner.
There is no value to the customer at all while information is in transit.
It is delivery that is important. Strictly one also has to take account
of the mitigating cost of storage in both places (or only in the second
place if the sender deletes after sending). In summary the added value
of transmission is the marginal change in value caused by associating a
new location at the delivery time with the intrinsic value of the information
to the customer.
However, because the data
communications market is fairly competitive, charges for communicating
information tend instead to follow the 'cost plus margin' rule. This is
particularly so because it is very difficult for providers to predict what
value their customers put on moving any one piece of information.
Any payment to an edge-network
provider has the two aspects - 'who pays' and 'who is paid'. 'Who
is paid' can only be each local provider collecting its local price. With
competitive 'cost plus' pricing there is no scope for any provider to break
out of that. But, because communications naturally involves at least two
parties, in order to cover the total costs of all the providers involved,
'who pays' can be on a different apportionment. The edge customers do
know the value to them of having the information at a certain place in
time. Thus, although apportionment is difficult for network providers,
it is very relevant to edge-customers. Clearly, the network providers can
stimulate more use of their networks by making arrangements for customers
to efficiently apportion costs between themselves.
4. End-to-end pricing
Fig 4.1 - 'End-to-end pricing' role
If a price is higher than the perceived value for any customer, she
is free to get the remote party (or anyone else) to make up the difference
through some higher level arrangement. On the other hand, if the value
to her is higher than her local price, she is also free to offer to cover
some of the costs of the remote end(s). However, our minimalist provider
doesn't have to be concerned with matchmaking multiple customers to get
round local discrepancies between price and customer value. This is an
issue that can be dealt with end-to-end, not locally. We are not saying
ISPs shouldn't offer end-to-end pricing - it is clearly in their interest
to matchmake between customers with surplus value and those with deficit.
All we are saying is that, if they do, end-to-end pricing should be considered
as a separate role (Fig 4.1). Such a role could be a separate business
- it could gain on some combinations and lose on others, possibly making
a profit overall. In this case it would be a retail service that used the
networking services as wholesalers. It is also possible that edge customers
could effectively take on this role themselves. Fig 4.1 shows three end
customers using a data path through multiple connected ISPs. The relative
value of the service flows and prices for one direction of one class of
service is represented by the thickness of the arrows. Note that the size
of the proportions of prices represents a choice by the end-system that
is willing to pay more than its local price. In fact, the end-to-end pricing
role may advertise identical prices to each customer. However, these could
be modified by an offer by A to cover a proportion (possibly all of it).
Pricing between providers is omitted for clarity (but see later).
Telephony firms have traditionally
offered end-to-end pricing because they are selling an application. The
role of network provider has always been muddled with selling the end-to-end
application. This is already putting considerable strains on the International
Accounting Rate System (IARS) [ITU_RIARS]
with potentially s(n-1)2 prices having to be negotiated
(where n is the number of edge providers and s is the
number of global schemes for sharing the proportions of the price between
the ends, e.g. local rate only, free to sender). In practice, end providers
are grouped together to reduce the number of prices presented to customers.
PSTN uses addressing conventions (e.g. +800 for free to sender), but this
limits commercial flexibility to the few schemes that are widely recognised.
Clark proposed an Internet-based solution to allow flexibility [Clark96].
However, catering for various combinations of sender
and receiver payments through the core of the network needs packet format
changes and router involvement. Further, wholesale
prices between providers would have to be negotiated for every possible
scheme for sharing charges between ends as well as for every possible grouping
of end points beyond that boundary. Worse still, inter-provider accounting
would then require traffic flows to be isolated then further sub-classified
by how much each end was paying on a per-flow basis.
'n2 problem' would still exist for our end-to-end pricing
solution but this is fairly easy to contain by grouping. An example scenario
is given at the end of the paper. Importantly though, end-to-end pricing
gets rid of all the inter-provider problems described above. There is no
longer a need to identify end-to-end flows at inter-provider boundaries.
Thus inter-provider charging could be based on bulk measures like average
queue lengths, number of routing advertisements etc. Also, most importantly,
pricing can be introduced without changing the Internet at all, and it
allows future flexibility. To summarise so far, we should ensure any discrepancy
in the willingness to pay across end customers is normalised end-to-end
first, so that edge ISPs always receive payment at their local price.
5. Common case value apportionment
Although we have delegated the problem of apportioning
sender and receiver payments to a higher layer, it is still important to
cater for the common case at the network charging level so that the higher
layer functions are unnecessary in most cases. We propose that all edge
providers should charge their local customers for both sending and receiving
as the default case. Our primary justification for this stance is that
the large majority of communication occurs between consenting parties.
In this section we also argue that other possible default scenarios (e.g.
'only senders pay') would be unstable anyway and collapse back to our proposed
model, which appears stable. Further, delegating charge reapportionment
to a higher layer eliminates all but local pricing, so that we can extend
charging for sending and receiving recursively to apply at the boundary
between any pair of providers. This greatly simplifies inter-provider metering
- essential for Internet scalability as QoS and multicast are introduced.
Thus our edge pricing model applies to any 'edge' - whether at the edge
of the Internet or just the edge of a backbone. The stability analysis
intrinsically applies equally to this more general case. Incidentally,
for prices for each direction to be different hardly needs justification.
allows for asymmetric costs (e.g. access technology like xDSL
or satellite) and for asymmetric demand (e.g. some ISPs might host more
big senders, while others might host the mass of receivers). If these factors
aren't asymmetric, the two prices can simply be set to be the same.
Fig 5.1 - Split-edge pricing
Fig 5.1 shows a generic scenario with multiple networks, N, all connected
to the network of interest, Nb. Each connected network has a
status relative to Nb based on whether it provides more or less
connectivity to other hosts at that class of service. Although the diagram
gives the impression that Nb is a backbone network, any one
of the neighbouring networks could be a simple link to an edge customer's
single host. The model is designed to be general enough for Nb
to be an edge customer, an edge network, a backbone network or some hybrid.
Those networks with the same suffix are of similar status relative to Nb.
For instance, those labelled Nc may be edge customers, Nd
may be equally large backbones and Ne a peer network.
In fact, this is a simplification.
specific we propose that a provider should offer each class
of service in each direction at a separate price. Thus, Fig 5.1 shows the
situation for one of possibly many classes of service. Class of service
is defined as a unique combination of the service mode (unicast, multicast)
and quality (latency, instantaneous bandwidth, reliability, jitter). Quality
specifications within one class may leave one parameter to be specified
by the customer while others remain fixed, thus generalising both RSVP
and diffserv [Zhang93,
A justifies treating each class of service independently. Appendix
B gives an introduction to the model for each class of service, but
allows heterogeneous QoS per leg of the multicast. The full model is given
in an earlier version of this paper [Briscoea99].
However, all this detail would obscure the summary of the analysis we attempt
to give here, which we now continue.
A packet of a particular
class of service is shown being multicast from Na into Nb
and onward into the other networks. Because multicast is a general case
of unicast this allows us to model both topologies. We will also be able
to treat the topology as aggregation(i)
by reversing the direction of transmission. The term packet is used, but
the arrows could represent flows of similar class packets for a certain
time. Fig 5.1 highlights the pricing between networks Na and
Nb. Wbas and Wbar denote the per direction
weightings applied to the 'nominal charge' that Nb applies to
Na (for more detail on exactly what the nominal charge means,
see Appendix B). Wabs
and Wabr likewise weight the charge Na applies to
Nb. Each weighted price is for transmission between the edge
in question and the remote edge of the Internet, not just the remote edge
of that provider. For full generality, there have to be four price weightings
like this for every class of service at every inter-network interface,
but the weights would take different values unless the neighbours were
of the same status. The relationship between any two parties across the
edge of their networks is split into prices for each class of service and
each of these is further split into two prices for each direction, each
of which are again split into 'half' prices that each party offers the
other. Hence, we call this model 'split-edge pricing'.
Thus the payment for traffic
in any one direction across each interface depends on the difference between
the two weighted prices offered by the networks either side. In other words,
no assumptions are made about who is provider and who is customer; this
purely depends on the sign of the difference between the charges at any
one time. Clearly, edge customers (Nc, say) have no provider
status in the networking market. So, for all j, Wcjs = 0 and
Wcjr = 0.
B we analyse policies like 'only senders pay' or 'only receivers pay'
using the model (by simply setting all receiving weights to zero or all
sending weights to zero). Stability of a policy is determined by assessing
whether one network would gain from a maverick policy. The results are
'Only senders pay' or 'only
receivers pay' are only stable policies if all providers agree to adopt
the same policy, and none break ranks. As soon as one goes maverick, customers
who are primarily receivers and those who are primarily senders migrate
to different providers. Income appears to remain stable, but the source
of the income switches from retail customers to interconnect causing the
inter-provider link to become a bottleneck. Thus costs increase without
any increase in revenue.
'Only senders pay' is also
unstable where multicast is concerned. ('Only receivers pay' is all but
meaningless for multicast.) To support an 'only multicast senders pay'
policy, all domains have to trust each other to faithfully report receiver
community size. In Appendix B we
show that it is simple for a domain to lie about its local receiver community
size to increase its profits. Proposed mechanisms such as 'EXPRESS count
management protocol' [Holbrook99] suffer from
this flaw. Solving this problem is unlikely to be successful without breaking
the scalability benefits of receiver initiated IP multicast that ensure
upstream nodes are unaware of downstream join and leave activity.
In contrast, 'both senders
and receivers pay' is stable in both unicast and multicast cases. It also
doesn't lead to inefficient network utilisation unlike the above cases.
It is also possible to cater for different balances of predominant senders
and receivers by weighting the sending price differently to the receiving
price. For instance if there are a few big predominant senders but many
small predominant receivers, the economy of scale in managing a large customer
can be reflected in a lower sender weighting. Similarly, the inefficiencies
of multicasts to small receiver communities compared to multiple unicasts
can be discouraged by slightly weighting multicast sender pricing. The
aggregation case is similar, with 'both senders and receivers pay' stable
while the two other policies go unstable for the same reasons as for multicast,
but swapped round.
If end customers want a
different apportionment of charges, we have made the case for this being
arranged end-to-end. The remainder of the paper concentrates on issues
surrounding clearing. Also, at the end, various worked examples are given
to illustrate how it would be achieved in practice. However, first, we
introduce one further relevant issue - that of how a receiver can control
its costs, if it can't stop itself being sent to.
6. Blame, liability and control
We have shown that all ends paying is the common case and a stable one
so should be the default. We can share the cost differently at higher level
if end user value is shared differently from this default (and it is worth
bothering given the cost of another financial transfer). However, we must
remember that a sender can decide not to send but a receiver can not avoid
being sent to (in the current Internet). We must be careful here to define
the context of the question of blame. We are only concerned with blame
for sending into or receiving from the service access point of the network
layer. Clearly, if someone operates a Web service, they don't normally
decide whether to send replies on a request by request basis. But this
doesn't mean they have been forced to send at the network level.
They have chosen to put the service on a well-known port with public access.
They can stop certain people requesting them to send by securing the Web
server or interposing a firewall. But, whenever they send it is because
they have arranged it to be so.
Ultimate sender blame presents
a problem. In cases where the sender derives surplus value from a communication
and the receiver derives less value than their provider charges, receivers
are vulnerable to being exploited (e.g. adverts). Such cases are much rarer
than it first appears, mainly because of confusions that can be cleared
by considering the following factors:
Nonetheless, genuine cases remain where the receiver is being persistently
forced to pay for transmission that is valuable to the sender but not to
the receiver. The only solution to this seemingly intractable dilemma is
for it to be customary for all ends to pay,
but the ultimate liability should remain with the sender. Any receiver
could then dispute the customary apportionment (end-to-end) with no risk
of denial (unless the sender had proof of a receiver request). A similar
but opposite situation used to prevail with the UK postal service. It was
customary for the sender to pay for the stamp, but if it was missing or
insufficient the receiver was liable for the payment, because the Royal
Mail had an obligation to deliver every letter.
The value of the information isn't relevant when considering the networking
service - only the value of moving the information - getting it
to a useful place
Often the value of moving information is transitory - getting it to a useful
place to discover that moving it wasn't useful
Often the value of moving lots of information is to get a small part of
it to a useful place, but it isn't possible to know which part before moving
The cost of transmitting information is often far less than the cost of
the effort of targeting which information should be transmitted
Information in one direction often controls the flow of information in
7. End-to-end clearing
Fig 7.1 - 'End-to-end clearing' model
We have discussed how prices can be apportioned between the ends of
a communication. We now discuss how payment will follow the same path.
We can assume electronic commerce will make it possible for anyone to pay
anyone else's ISP on the Internet, even if a clearinghouse is needed
We shall call this the 'end-to-end clearing' model (Fig 7.1). These arrangements
will typically be made through higher level protocols. The act of making
a financial transfer has similar order costs to the cost of transmission
of a couple of small e-mails. In addition there is a the cost to the ISP
of provision of processing resources for authentication. Therefore, arranging
a different apportionment of charges between ends is more likely for long-lived
sessions, such as Internet telephony or conferences on the mbone, than
short connections, such as are typical on the Web. However, a collection
of related short connections may be combined into one longer-lived session
for these purposes.
In the 'end-to-end clearing'
model, the clearinghouse role deals with the end-to-end 'half-circuit'
sharing (including the straightforward price differences between the two
ends) leaving inter-provider accounting to be purely about wholesaling.
The figure shows one end paying and follows example proportions of this
money as they are distributed among the providers. The clearing role may
be involved in taking payments for higher level service from each customer
(e.g. conference fees or pay-TV charges). In such cases it knows the number
of participants and can charge the customer on the left (who is paying
for everyone) accordingly. In this example each leg is charged at fifty
units and no profit is made. Note that inter-provider money flows match
the flow of networking service in the opposite direction across the same
interface. This is the deliberate aim of the model, to ensure that bulk
measurements at these boundaries can drive interconnect charges based solely
on local conditions. It also allows each pair of providers to choose their
own basis for metering independently of other arrangements at other interfaces.
There is nothing to stop
providers or customers assuming the clearinghouse role, but the accounting
information model needs to be based on a third party clearing system to
allow for the most general case. To clarify, the paying customer may make
In all cases, the role of clearing must be separate even if there
is no separate enterprise to achieve the function. Note that the last case
is special - the clearing role is null, but it still appears in the information
model. In other words, the charges for all ends should never be lumped
together while accounting. If, instead, end-to-end half-circuit sharing
were achieved through the provider chain, end-to-end clearing information
would have to be identified separately from that needed for wholesale accounting.
If clearing information were not identified separately, the types of model
that could be built on the infrastructure would be restricted.
either to a dedicated clearing house
or direct to the ISP at the remote end (the remote customer need only notify
her ISP's payment interface to the payer)
or even direct to the remote customer so that she can pay their own ISP
8. Iterative clearing
We have presented what we believe to be an optimum business model, but
other models need to be considered. In particular, we will now consider
a model similar to the public 'phone service, which has one or two implicit
features that need to be separated out for full understanding. We will
consider payment in the model first, rather than pricing, as it will then
be easier to understand the pricing issues.
In this model, ISPs don't
expect payment for all sent and received traffic to be made to all
edge providers (Fig 8.1). Instead a customer might pay their own provider
on behalf of both (all) ends as in the normal case for telephony and as
proposed by Clark for the Internet [Clark96].
This alternative business model allows customers to decide into which end(s)
payment enters the system, on a per flow basis. We shall call this model
the 'iterative' model for reasons that will become clear as we go. The
financial flows between providers in this model depend on at which ends
payment is entering the system on a per flow (or per packet) basis. For
some flows, there may even be proportional sharing of costs between the
ends. For business model flexibility an accounting system would need a
'payee percentage' field - the percentage of the total cost to be paid
by the customer at the end being accounted for. Usually it would be 100%
or 0% in the typical cases of 'paid completely to local provider' or 'completely
to remote'. The balance would be the remote end's payment. Note, though,
that the perceived purpose of this model is the transaction efficiency
when the local payee gets 100%.
If Fig 8.1 is compared with
the end-to-end clearing model in Fig 7.1, both models end up with two of
the edge ISPs paid the same amounts on a half-circuit basis (we will explain
where the third leg of the multicast has gone later). The difference is
merely in the route the payment takes from payer to payee. With 'iterative'
clearing the payment follows the data path. Along the way, providers take
their cut with two types of money sharing being mixed together:
Fig 8.1 - 'Iterative clearing' model
However, the amount deducted from the flow at each boundary doesn't
match the level of service crossing that boundary. This can lead to complexity
in the network, as there is pressure to design the network itself to reveal
the apportionment of costs. This was why Clark was concerned about how
much complexity would be added to the Internet to cater for arbitrary combinations
of sender and receiver payments. This is also why international and interconnect
on the PSTN have limited flexibility to arbitrarily apportion charges between
the ends. Even 'free to sender' calls are blocked between a lot of countries
because they don't yet have prices set or the interconnect accounting in
place. Specifically, there are five points stacked up against the 'iterative
The only advantage of the 'iterative' model is that it appears to reduce
(by one) the number of transactions to achieve the desired apportionment.
Also all the inter-provider transactions can be fairly lightweight because
they can be batched up. For example, consider the case where both the parties
in an Internet 'phone conversation are being paid for by the caller. It
appears less complex for the caller to pay everyone's payments to her own
ISP, then let the ISP transfer the correct amount to its upstream provider
as part of a bulk transaction. However, on the other side of the bargain
is a considerably more complicated network, compromise pricing, increased
credit time lags and less flexibility in inventing new ways to apportion
charges, particularly for multicast.
As already pointed out, a 'payee percentage' field would have to drive
inter-provider accounting, whether it was in accounting messages or packets.
Otherwise the revenue of an edge ISP and its upstream providers would depend
on a factor completely outside their control - to which end its customers
chose to make payment. The 'payee percentage' field would therefore have
to be trusted by upstream providers. To help prevent the field being tampered
with, it would need to be signed by the remote ISP. How signed fields can
be aggregated without losing the signature integrity would be a matter
for further research.
Still further complication might be introduced for some future applications
if the share of payment between the parties wasn't fixed but depended on
characteristics of the flow or other parameters only understood at a higher
level - higher than the provider would normally be interested in.
Worse still, the payment should ideally be split taking into account the
current prices of all the edge providers who will eventually be paid. The
only alternative (used in the international accounting rate system (IARS)
for telephony) is for ISPs to agree compromise prices between themselves
that average out price inconsistencies. This is what has been causing all
the tensions in IARS as some countries liberalise earlier than others causing
huge variation in prices around the world, between which no happy compromise
can be found. This is difficult even for a system where every end to end
path only passes through two international carriers at maximum, each pair
setting compromise prices with each other. With eight ISPs on many end
to end Internet paths, five typical [McCreary98]
and considerable peer interconnection, it is likely that it will take longer
to negotiate prices than the time available, thus leading to distortions
to providers' supply and demand signals.
Finally, because of the much longer provider chains
typically found on the Internet, unacceptable delays will be introduced
before the revenue arrives in the correct place. Any delay in clearing
hugely increases the cost of the payment system, as extra trust mechanisms
have to be invoked while the payment remains unconfirmed. These trust mechanisms
have to be applied to the edge customers, not just the providers, therefore
hugely increasing the total cost of the system.
If multicast is to be catered for by iterative clearing (e.g. conferences),
each provider needs to know how many ends they are serving locally, both
to inform the person paying and check settlement. In contrast, with the
end-to-end clearing model, if senders and receivers all pay, no-one needs
to count ends nor trust others to count ends for them. If clearing is desired
by the ends, only the ends need to know how many ends there are to pay
for - no-one needs to calculate how many ends are attached to each provider.
Thus, for instance, if there is a charge to join a conference, this can
cover the cost of paying each participant's communications charges as well
as the content (each participant would have to declare their ISP when they
join). The more who pay the host to join, the more there is to cover charges.
Then the host can send bulk payments to the relevant ISPs, either directly
or through a single clearer (see worked example below). Multicast has been
omitted from Fig 8.1 simply because there is no generic way to handle multipoint
networking with iterative clearing.
9. Example scenarios
9.1 Finding an end-to-end price.
Let us assume some way has been invented for an ISP's edge customer, Ca,
to announce her intention to cover some part of the transmission costs
of parties communicating with her, Cb, Cc etc. Some
suggestions are given in [Clark96].
Kausar suggests modifications to SDP [RFC2327]
to achieve this for longer sessions [Kausar99].
A price needs to be set and settlement made between each pair of parties.
If this is achieved, end-to-end, between the parties involved there are
no further engineering implications - the pairs of parties clearly trust
each other enough to enter into a financial arrangement and are willing
to accept the cost of the transaction. However, there will be many occasions
where the parties have no trust relationship. In these cases the problem
reduces to, Cb, Cc etc finding suitable intermediaries.
First they must know Ca's ISP. Ca may have already
given this information in the session description protocol. Alternatively
a directory of ISPs could be operated by the Internet address allocation
registry (IANA) or any private concern, in which one could look up the
network address of Ca and be given the payment interface of
the associated ISP. This directory might be operated by one organisation
monolithically (feasible for the current 74,000 ISPs) or it could be hierarchical
like DNS. They may then choose to check whether their own ISP has a direct
relationship with Ca's ISP. Alternatively, they could go straight
to a different directory we postulate would be necessary. This directory
would accept lists of ISPs and return a list of organisations that would
act as an intermediary between them all. The mechanism would be identical
to a Web search engine - in invert index of ISP-intermediary pairs that
would accept queries of logically ANDed ISPs. There may be some intermediaries
who will deal with any combination of ISPs through their own network of
secondary clearing arrangements.
Whatever, the resulting
intermediary could then be contacted to find the price being offered for
the particular combination of ISPs. The same organisation would naturally
take the payments and clear them between providers. The intermediary would
also have to find out the prices being charged by the relevant edge-providers,
which would represent its back-end costs. We assume the providers would
be using tariff dissemination protocols such as in Rizzo et al [Rizzo99],
Carle et al [Carle98] or Yemini
al [Yemini98] that could
be listened to by the clearer as easily as by the edge-customers, particularly
if transported over multicast.
and clearing with 'sender liable but local payment customary'
We concluded earlier that only the sender should be ultimately liable for
usage charges. However, we suggested that the customary position should
be to expect every customer to pay for both reception and sending. We will
now describe how this necessary but rather novel business model would work,
assuming also end-to-end clearing. At this point we have to make a clear
separation between accounting and liability for payment. We propose that
each edge customer and her edge network provider should first reconcile
their usage records for sent and received traffic, whoever is expected
to pay for that usage. That is, we require the edge ISP to be willing to
sign the relevant accounts if asked. Whoever ends up paying, the price
applied to each account will be that set by the edge-provider supplying
the service. We will also describe the more demanding case of post-payment.
The following discussion
is easiest to understand if we consider the accounts for one flow at a
time. We assume that accounting is operating in near-real-time on a per-session
basis, thus such an approach makes sense as a session consists of a set
of flows known to at least a subset of the participants. Again, for ease
of understanding, let us consider one incoming flow to one customer before
we consider her outgoing flow. Note that two or more edge-charges are raised
per flow depending on the number of ends, but we are focusing on one customer
at one end (termed 'local'). For brevity, we will use feminine pronouns
for the local customer and masculine for the remote customer(s).
If the local customer doesn't
wish to pay her provider's charges for reception, she will present the
account of her received flow to the clearer (discovered using the procedure
in the previous section). She will identify the remote sender who she expects
will pay. The clearer looks up the sender's ISP and debits its account,
referring to the sender's address. When the sender's ISP settles its account
with the clearer, it will deduct the amount from its account with the sender.
The price used is the clearer's, which may or may not be identical to the
local provider's price. If the sender is a large organisation, it might
have an account directly with the clearer. The clearer also credits its
account with the local ISP at the local provider's price, referring to
the local customer. When this accounts settles, it will clear the local
customer's debt with her local provider.
The sender cannot dispute
the charge unless he has evidence that the receiver previously agreed to
accept payment liability for traffic of this type from him. Purely for
the clearer's information, the local customer may identify which records
she believes the remote party expects to pay and which she is simply disputing.
Thus despite the customary case being each end paying its own charges,
the onus is on the sender to ensure it can prove this. In most cases, there
is a relationship between the parties in a communication which will allow
the sender to safely assume the customary case so that no receiver is expected
to bounce its customary charges back to the sender. Where such trust isn't
present, the sender might wish to ensure receivers have confirmed they
are accepting the flow on the customary terms (where they pay their own
end's charges). However, some ISP's may assume this liability and offer
sender debt collection as a service.
We now move on to consider
outgoing flows sent by the local customer. If she has evidence that the
remote receiver has agreed to cover her local provider's charges for her
sent traffic, she will present her account for the sent flow to the clearer.
The mechanics of looking up accounts and debiting and crediting are as
before. The receiver can only dispute this charge if he can prove the evidence
saying he agreed to pay is invalid.
The local customer may optionally
notify her local provider that she expects settlement for each flow to
come from the clearer not herself. If the clearer never pays the local
provider, the local customer remains liable to her own provider for the
charges. If she has also already paid the clearer, she can ask the clearer
for evidence that it has settled for the usage in question with her local
provider. If it can provide the evidence signed by the provider, her liability
to her provider is cleared. If it can't provide such evidence, it must
return her payment so she will never have to pay twice.
This all seems very complicated,
given it is per flow. However, in practice, settlement will be done in
batch between each pair of parties as providers and clearers all have long
term relationships with their customers. It is only the accounting that
is per-flow. Indeed, even the accounting may be done in batches, but each
batch will contain per-flow granularity of usage records. Also, it is clear
that such reapportionment will only be cost-effective for flows where the
value of the communications quality is higher than the cost of reapportionment.
Examples would be long-lived flows, or collections of flows between the
same ends where premium quality transmission service is used. Also, it
should be recalled, that the clearing intermediary is merely a role. This
role may be taken by one of the edge-ISPs or by one of the edge-customers,
which removes the need for half the messaging.
Essentially, receipts are
being traded much in the same way as employees claim travel expenses from
their employer. This results in a scenario where the traditional telephone
bill becomes an anachronism. Such a bill represents two commercial processes
wrapped into one, which we propose should be separate. The first stage
is reconciliation of all local usage records, whoever will pay. The second
stage is agreement over who pays for which usage record.
multicast with heterogeneous QoS
Illustrating the power of the principles set down so far, we can take an
example like multicast with heterogeneous QoS per receiver and show that
charging for it with correct apportionment will 'just happen', even inter-domain.
However, it will only be efficient by using the 'split-edge pricing' model.
For illustration, let us have two provider networks with an edge customer
of Na sending into a multicast address where the tree crosses
into Nb reaching receivers who are customers of Nb.
Nb will have given a price for multicast reception and Na
one for sending to an address in the multicast range. The tree may spread
to other receivers on other networks too. The receivers in each domain
will note when they join the multicast and each start being charged for
the traffic they receive at their local price. The sender will be charged
at her provider's price. At the domain boundary between Na and
Nb, Nb will be charged Na's price for
sending to a multicast while Nb will charge its price to Na
for receiving from a multicast. This usage may either be measured exactly
at the inter-provider border, calculated statistically by combining customer
usage data with multicast routing tables or simply covered within bulk
measurements at the border. The receivers of a particular multicast group
may happen to be located so that the multicast tree fans out immediately
at its entrance to the network. With heterogeneous QoS per receiver (e.g.
RSVP), any message to set up the QoS must emanate from the receiver and
can therefore be charged for locally. Again this can be treated identically
at the inter-provider boundary.
We believe edge pricing
allows enough flexibility to charge differentially for broad ranges of
route lengths because it allows different charges for different administrative
domains. Even if a single domain spanned the globe, if desired it could
be divided into internal pricing domains to achieve the same effect.
We now go on to discuss
how reapportionment of charges between the ends might work in this multicast
case. It would be unlikely that anyone would volunteer to pay for all receivers
however many there were, unless they had a prior arrangement with each
receiver. For instance, if a conference organiser were offering to pay
everyone's communications expenses, part of the charge for each participant
to join the conference would most likely cover these costs. Thus, any number
of participants could join but the host would still have all payments covered
from income. The host might just allow enough in the conference charge
to cover most prices of most providers and probably make a little profit
to cover the risk. Other models might be possible. The host may only agree
to pay each participant's charges up to a ceiling. Alternatively, the host
may ask for receipts authenticated by ISPs and pay the exact charge of
each ISP. Thus, the end-to-end pricing model allows full flexibility for
reapportioning charges in both the multicast and unicast cases.
9.4 Phone to Internet gateway
Fig 9.1 - Clearing across a PIG
Others are taking the approach of allowing the telephony charging model
to determine that for Internet telephony. Because of the complexity implications
this approach has, we suggest the Internet should take advantage of the
opportunity for a fresh start. The Internet should reject the complexity
of iterative PSTN charging before it becomes endemic. Instead, phone to
Internet gateways (PIGs) should be treated exactly as end-systems are treated
above. Any apportionment of sender and receiver payments should be dealt
with from one end of the Internet to the PIG. That is end-to-end across
the Internet's patch, rather than end-to-end across both the Internet and
the PSTN. This also allows for multicast models on the Internet side (multipoint
on the PSTN side remains as complicated as today). Clearing between end-parties
never become muddled in with network provider pricing. If this were
to happen, the Internet would be for ever saddled with interworking with
a legacy, even when the legacy had virtually withered and died. It is always
better to make the legacy interwork with the new model than the other way
Note that the end customer
will see no difference if they rely on their edge network provider for
all Internet telephony charging. This is purely an internal re-arrangement
between ISPs. However, the customer could make these arrangements herself,
if she desired.
10. Limitations and Further
The models described in this paper only become critical for any Internet
communications that are usage-charged (e.g. QoS requests). Such cases are
rare at present, however the author is engaged in related work, which suggests
that the subscription and connect time charging models for Internet communications
are only viable as long as capacity utilisation is low. However, even ultra-lightweight
usage-charging [Briscoeb99] is yet to be proven
cost-effective, therefore the context that this paper relies on is not
at all certain without considerable further work.
Also this paper argues the
case for 'sender and receiver both pay', but it is not proven. The stability
of inter-related ISP policies requires 'war-game' simulation as a step
towards a proof. Further work is also required to exercise scenarios based
on these models, through simulation and prototyping in order to fully work
through the performance and security issues.
We have defined a generalised pricing model for any number of interconnected
multi-service networks. Each network offers each of its neighbours each
class of service at a separate price for each direction of transmission.
We call this 'split-edge pricing'. This model scales naturally to any size
inter-network because all prices only depend on direct neighbours.
We have shown that the common
case for apportioning value between the ends of a connectionless communication
network is catered for if all users are charged for both sending and receiving.
We have also shown that this is the most stable and efficient case, particularly
for multicast and aggregation. It should therefore be used as the default
in the 'split edge-pricing' model.
We have suggested that a
new business model would be useful and more efficient to cater for the
cases where there is a large discrepancy from this default in terms of
value apportionment - large enough for it to be worth the cost of making
a balancing transaction. This new model requires a new role in communications
markets - an intermediary for end-to-end pricing and clearing. This new
role could be conducted by existing ISPs or customers themselves, but there
appears to be considerable added value, making this a viable business in
its own right. It appears that this role is a threat to existing ISPs business.
The role is one suitable for a purely financial processor using common
e-commerce mechanisms with relatively low costs and the ability to take
a share of the surplus value available on top of charge reapportionments.
This role relegates edge ISPs into wholesalers for a potentially large
class of Internet applications. The intermediary would become the retail
face of the Internet in many cases.
Further, we suggest a subtle
twist to the recommendation that customers should pay for both sending
and receiving. We suggest this should be customary, but that ultimate liability
for sending should lie with the sender. Disputes could then quickly be
resolved through the end-to-end clearing role. This stems from the unavoidable
fact that receivers can't avoid being sent to.
Richard Gandon (BT International Carrier Services), Martin Tatham, Mike
Rizzo, Jérôme Tassel, Steve Rudkin, Chris Russell (BT Research),
Jon Crowcroft (UCL).
Bob Briscoe (BT), "The Direction of Value Flow in Multi-service Connectionless
Networks", Int'l Conf on Telecommunications & E-Commerce '99, Oct 1999
Bob Briscoe (BT), "Lightweight, End to End, Usage-based Charging for Packet
Networks", submitted to Openarch 2000, Sep 1999, <URL:http://www.labs.bt.com/projects/mware/>
[Cairncross97] Frances Cairncross, "The Death of Distance : How the Communications
Revolution Will Change Our Lives", pub. Harvard Business School Press,
ISBN: 0875848060, Oct 1997
[Carle98] Georg Carle, Felix Hartanto, Michael Smirnow, Tanja Zseby, (GMD
FOKUS) "Generic Charging and Accounting for Value-Added IP Services", Technical
Report GloNe-12-98, Dec 1998, <URL:http://www.fokus.gmd.de/research/cc/glone/employees/georg.carle/>
(also presented at IWQoS'99 pricing workshop, Jun 1999)
[Clark96] David D Clark (MIT), "Combining Sender and Receiver Payments
in the Internet", in Interconnection and the Internet. Edited by G. Rosston
and D. Waterman, Oct 1996, <URL:http://diffserv.lcs.mit.edu/>
[Finlayson98] Ross Finlayson, Discussion at Third Reliable multicast research
group meeting, Orlando, FL, and following on the mailing list, Feb
Shai Herzog (IBM), Scott Shenker (Xerox PARC), Deborah Estrin (USC/ISI), "Sharing the cost of Multicast Trees:
An Axiomatic Analysis", in Proceedings of ACM/SIGCOMM '95, Cambridge, MA, Aug. 1995,
Hugh W. Holbrook and David R. Cheriton, (Stanford Uni), "IP Multicast Channels:
EXPRESS Support for Large-scale Single-source Applications", in proc ACM
SIGCOMM'99, (Sep 1999) <URL:http://www.acm.org/sigcomm/sigcomm99/papers/session2-3.html>
[ITU96] ITU, "The Direction of Traffic", ITU/Teleography Inc, Geneva, 1996
in brief chapter 3, Box 3.1 is extracted on-line: "Accounting rates and
how they work", <URL:http://www.itu.ch/intset/whatare/howwork.html>
[ITU_RIARS] ITU "Reforming the International Accounting Rate System" <URL:http://www.itu.ch/intset/>
[Kausar99] Nadia Kausar, Bob Briscoe and Jon Crowcroft (UCL), "A charging
model for Sessions on the Internet", in proc IEEE ISCC`99, Egypt, 6-8 Jul
[McCreary98] Sean McCreary and kc claffy, "How far does the average packet
travel on the Internet?", CAIDA, 25 May 1998, <URL:http://www.caida.org/Learn/ASPL/>
[MacKieVar92] Jeffrey K MacKie-Mason and Hal Varian, (UMich), "Some Economics
of the Internet’, Tenth Michigan Public Utility Conference at Western Michigan
University, March 25-27, 1993: <URL:http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/~hal/people/hal/papers.html>
[RFC2327] Mark Handley, Van Jacobsen, "SDP: Session Description Protocol",
IETF RFC 2327, Mar 1998, <URL:rfc2327.txt>
S. Blake (Torrent), D. Black (EMC), M. Carlson (Sun), E. Davies (Nortel),
Z. Wang (Bell Labs Lucent), W. Weiss (Lucent), "An Architecture for Differentiated
Services", IETF RFC 2475, Dec 1998 <URL:rfc2475.txt>
[Rizzo99] Mike Rizzo, Bob Briscoe, Jérôme Tassel, Kostas Damianakis,
(BT) "A Dynamic Pricing Framework to Support a Scalable, Usage-based Charging
Model for Packet-switched Networks", in proc. IWAN'99 Springer-Verlag,
Jul 1999, <URL:http://www.labs.bt.com/projects/mware/>
[Shenker96] Scott Shenker (Xerox PARC), David Clark (MIT), Deborah Estrin
(USC/ISI) and Shai Herzog (USC/ISI), ‘Pricing in Computer Networks: Reshaping
the research agenda’, SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review Volume 26,
Number 2, Apr 1996, <URL: http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~frank/PRICE/scott.ps>
[Speakman98] Tony Speakman, Nidhi Bhaskar, Richard Edmonstone, Dino Farinacci,
Steven Lin, Alex Tweedly and Lorenzo Vicisano, (cisco) "PGM Reliable Transport
Protocol Specification", Work in progress: IETF Internet Draft, Jun 1999
(expires Dec 1999), <URL:draft-speakman-pgm-spec-03.txt>
[Yemini98] Y. Yemini, A. Dailianas, and D. Florissi, "MarketNet: A Market-based
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Design, Aug. 1998, Seattle, WA, <URL:http://www.cs.columbia.edu/dcc/marketnet/>
[Zhang93] Lixia Zhang (Xerox PARC), Stephen Deering (Xerox PARC), Deborah
Estrin(USC/ISI), Scott Shenker (Xerox PARC) and Daniel Zappala (USC/CSD),
"RSVP: A New Resource ReSerVation Protocol", IEEE Network. Sep 1993. <URL:http://www.isi.edu/div7/rsvp/pub.html>
Zimmerman, "OSI Reference Model - The ISO Model of Architecture for Open
Systems Interconnection", IEEE Transactions on , Vol 28, No. 4, Apr 1980,
[Zull97] Chris Zull (Cutler & Co), "Interconnection Issues in the Multimedia
Environment", Interconnection Asia '97, IIR Conferences, Singapore, Apr
(i) Examples of packets that are forwarded
until aggregation (reverse multicast) are:
RSVP receiver initiated reservation (RESV) messages
pragmatic general multicast (PGM) [Speakman98] negative
acknowledge (NACK) messages or the "lay breadcrumb" messages[Finlayson98]
suggested in their place
Appendix A. Independence of logical classes
Here we argue that each class of service can be treated independently of
other logical classes of service. Fig A.1 attempts to show the split-edge
prices for different classes of service between Na and Nb
by layering the diagram in the third dimension 'out of the page'. Each
class of service 'layer' is a logical independent inter-network in its
own right as it has its own share of resources and its own inter-network
prices. Relating this to currently proposed technology, for integrated
services [Zhang93], class of service is defined
as either best effort, controlled load, or guaranteed service with the
particular flowspecs reserved being dealt with as heterogeneous QoS within
a class (Appendix B). For differentiated
service (DS) [RFC2475], each DS code-point
represents a class of service.
Fig A.1 - Split-edge pricing per class of service
However, because each network is managed autonomously, there may be
disjoint mappings between classes of service in neighbouring networks (as
allowed in diffserv). Such a case is shown between Nb and the
right-most Nd, which uses one class of service where everyone
else uses two. At such a boundary, Wdbs and Wdbr
for the merged class appear from Nb's point of view to each
be a pair of prices for each of its classes of service that happen to be
identical. On the other hand, Nb might offer two different Wbdr
prices and two Wbds prices to Nd for each of Nb's
two classes. Nd would just see each pair as a single price that
varied depending on the relative proportions of traffic coming from or
going to each class. Therefore, even with disjoint class mappings, we need
not concern ourselves with more than one class of service at a time.
Appendix B. Split-edge pricing
There follows a description of the 'split-edge pricing' model. From this,
one can analyse the surplus (or deficit) income that any party on a network
can expect for any flow topology (unicast or multicast). Also pricing can
be different for traffic in each direction so reverse multicasting (aggregation)
is catered for in the model). There is no room here for analysis based
on the model, but this is presented in [Briscoea99]
and conclusions are described here backed by a natural language rather
than mathematical argument.
We make the assumption that
differences in length of routes or shapes of routing trees through any
party's network will not produce cost differentials that are significant
enough to be worth measuring and charging for. I.e, we assume the 'death
of distance' [Cairncross97], or a
'black box' network routing assumption where a network's routing is hidden
within its interfaces. This means we trust a network or inter-network of
federated domains to find the cheapest route without end-system intervention
or, put another way, that routing protocols approximate to a competitive
market. If the route isn't truly the cheapest, we assume the discrepancy
is so minor that the end-customer isn't concerned. Border routing policy
distorts this considerably, but one of our long term motivations is to
make most border-routing policy redundant, simplifying inter-provider interfaces
using usage-charging instead. This also implies that internal network design
inefficiency should be absorbed by providers in their overall pricing.
For instance in current multicast routing, tree stability always takes
priority over tree efficiency. Providers are free not to make this decision
if they can design better multicast routing algorithms, but there is no
need to expose internal cost differentials in external pricing (when they
are purely for provider convenience in the first place). This is deliberately
unlike any of the scenarios analysed in Herzog et al - the classic
work on sharing the cost of multicast [Herzog95].
Herzog et al has a scenario where all receivers share the cost equally,
but not where receivers are divided into sets based on provider domains
and only charged equally per domain (edge pricing). Nor does it consider
heterogeneous QoS. If some degree of distance-based pricing is required,
we assume edge-address-based pricing mechanisms can be used without having
to concern the end-systems with the route between addresses. But we believe
even this is unlikely.
Fig B.1 shows a generic
topology that will be used to illuminate the analysis. The general model
and terminology have already been introduced in Section
5. We explained the scenario of a packet or flow being multicasted
between inter-connected networks of various statuses relative to the one
of interest and we explained the four price weights at any interface. However,
we glossed over the details of the model (e.g. not saying what the weights
were applied to). We will now correct those omissions.
The figure shows the classes
of service, Q, set for each branch of the tree. Q may be confined to discrete
levels or allowed to take any from a bounded continuous range of values,
depending on the QoS mechanism. It is assumed that, wherever a packet is
duplicated for multicasting, the multiple copies might each have different
classes of service. Note that it has not been assumed that the branches
all have different classes of service. This depends on the (independent)
requirements of the ultimate ends of each branch. There need be no correlation
between neighbouring network status and the value of Q for that branch.
RSVP is an example of such a heterogeneous QoS scheme (diffserv has the
potential to become heterogeneous, e.g. by setting the class of each branch
based on the DS-bytes in the multicast routing packets or in the IGMP join
packets from end systems or even using RSVP). The packet or flow being
modelled could be data or signalling.
V represents some measure
of the volume or size of the service consumed. It might be the amount of
data in the packet or in a flow of similar packets for a certain time.
It might be the time for which a reservation of a certain size is held.
We simplify the model by requiring V to be the same for all branches of
the tree. This is justified because a branch leaving the tree, a packet
loss or a network filter can be dealt with as an alteration to the topology
rather than allowing V to be heterogeneous. We define the 'nominal charge'
function that Nb levies for the packet or flow as Cb(V,Q).
This is a nominal charge because next we will describe how it is
weighted to determine the actual charge for each different type
Wbas & Wbar
denote the per direction weightings applied to the charge that Nb
applies to Na as shown at the highlighted interface between
these two in Fig B.1. The third digit of the suffix denotes the direction
of traffic that the weighting applies to; s being the weight for traffic
into the provider, r for traffic received from the provider setting
the charge. However Na is also offering service to Nb.
So similarly Na weights its charge Ca with weights
Wabr and Wabs. The first digit of the suffix of W
denotes the network provider setting the charge being weighted. The second
digit denotes the type of neighbour network provider to which this weighting
Fig B.1 Split-edge pricing with heterogeneous QoS
Often, we can consider scenarios where many of these price weightings
are set to be either equal to each other or to be zero, but formulae derived
for this model allow fine granularity of price weighting for any scenario
we might dream up in future work. We have initially experiment with extreme
policies like 'sender pays all' but the formulae allow consideration of
more subtle scenarios where prices might be slightly unequal in the different
directions, perhaps because of asymmetric access technology like xDSL.
The analysis in [Briscoea99] takes this model
and produces formulae for the surplus of each party. Then various scenarios
such as 'sender pays all' or 'senders and receivers pay equally' are exercised
to determine whether some policies are more advantageous to providers than
It is concluded that for
packets, the revenue is unaffected by whether senders, receivers or both
are charged, but which customer(s) contributes to it, depends on the direction
of the unicast.
However, for inter-provider
packets where peer providers charge each other as much as any edge customer,
if both providers adopt a 'receiver pays all' or a 'sender pays all' policy,
the revenue ends up always moving to the edge provider furthest from the
customer paying. As long as each provider has a similar customer mix in
terms of senders and receivers the net effect is that all providers make
similar gains (and incidentally they could mutually agree not to charge
each other with little change in their income - peering). Charging for
only one direction has the benefit of halving the cost of measuring and
accounting for both directions.
However, if all provider
policies start as 'sender pays all', Na might notice it has
more receivers than senders. Let us assume Na switches to charging
receivers only, while Nb continues to only charge senders. A
packet in the direction from Nb to Na would result
in each provider charging their edge customer for Qt, but neither
charging each other. A packet in the opposite direction would result in
neither provider charging their end customers at all, but both nominally
charging each other. This would, as one might expect, cause a migration
of all predominant receivers to other providers like Nb and
all big senders to Na. This leaves all providers with very little
edge revenue, but all just nominally charging each other similar amounts.
Clearly this will not be tolerated for long as the edge-customers are exploiting
the providers, all the traffic is being inefficiently and expensively funnelled
across the inter-provider links and there is consequent pressure for all
providers to reverse their policy. Changing the wholesale pricing policies
will make no difference. If the retail policies remain imbalanced there
will be little revenue entering the system. Thus neither all providers
charging only for sending nor all charging only for receiving can be stable
unless there is some industry-wide agreement as to which one to standardise
around. If there is such tacit agreement, charging for sending seems preferable
as it avoids the problem of charging for unsolicited receipt.
What this teaches us is
that any extreme policy where either sending or receiving are offered at
low or zero price encourages instability simply because local pricing doesn't
match true local costs. Therefore, when end customers arrange themselves
to their best advantage, providers suffer unless they collectively organise
themselves, which is unlikely. On the other hand, all providers charging
for both sending and receiving is also stable, and without artificial standardisation.
If any provider breaks ranks and charges, say, only senders, receivers
will quickly migrate towards it and senders away to the rest of the industry.
Thus the most stable arrangement is for send and receive pricing to approximately
When the multicast is analysed,
this only strengthens the case for all ends being liable for their use
of the network, whether sending or receiving. Here we consider single-source
trees for brevity, but the argument is even stronger for shared trees.
Today, multicast senders are being charged exorbitant rates such that only
those with income from (or advertising to) large numbers of receivers become
customers. In the longer term, 'sender pays all' will only be tenable if
it is at a rate that reflects the number of receivers. However, if this
problem is considered, the trust required to achieve a solution appears
to put up a theoretical barrier to 'sender pays all'. The cost of an inter-domain
multicast is spread throughout the tree. The cost to each domain is approximately
proportional to the number of branches within that domain. The proximity
of the tree's fan-out to its ingress into the domain determines the actual
cost per branch. This in turn depends on how meshed the network is, which
is usually a characteristic of the design of a whole domain (and if not,
the internal design is under the domain's control). Thus, a 'leaf-domain'
(one with only edge receivers and no downstream domains on the tree) can
work out its cost for a certain number of receivers in its domain and report
it to the upstream domain. This report is effectively a bill presented
to the upstream domain, requesting a share of the income from the sender
as it trickles down through the domains in the same direction as the tree.
This upstream domain can collect similar 'bills' from other downstream
networks and report the sum onwards upstream, eventually reaching the sender.
Thus the head-end provider charges the sender the costs of the whole tree
and has to pass on much of this income to meet the downstream 'bills'.
Clearly, any domain can over-report its bill and make a profit. This is
because the sender cannot determine the topology directly from its receivers
without destroying the scalability benefits of multicast, which deliberately
hides receiver activity.
It seems far simpler to
apply the same argument as for unicast above and charge each receiver and
the sender. The charges need not be identical for each, but the sender
charge doesn't need to reflect the number of receivers. Where the tree
crosses a domain boundary, each domain simply charges the other as one
sender or one receiver. This ensures charging is completely distributed.
There is not even a need to correlate together the receivers for one tree.
All receivers are just usage-charged as they occur, with no need for co-ordination
or totalling. As before, if the sender (or one receiver, or even a third
party) wants to offer to pay for all receivers, this can be arranged end-to-end,
rather than through the networks.