Friday, November 28, 2014

Offering More Choices on the Internet Through Duration-Based Contracts

We, as consumers, are locked into contracts with Internet Service Providers (ISPs)  over time durations that are too rigid,  over periods of yesrs, typically.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if consumers could be offered more choices, with choices including having contracts for Internet services for the time period that you actually want and need? Perhaps you just want to catch up on the news or view a video or movie.

This is one of the characteristics of a Future Internet Architecture (FIA) that we have been working on as part of our multiuniversity National Science Foundation (FIA) project: Network Innovation Through Choice. Specifically, we have been researching both theoretically and in terms of implementation an architecture which we are calling ChoiceNet with the goal being of introducing an Economy Plane for the Internet. The three principles of ChoiceNet are depicted graphically below.

In one of our fundamental conceptual papers, written by all the investigators on this project, we note that: These three principles interact in a cyclic process that results in increased competition, a faster pace of innovation, and better information for consumers, making it possible for users to make more informed decisions. We expect this “virtuous cycle” to be repeated over and over, on much smaller time scales than is possible in today’s Internet, where customers are locked into their local provider and rely on the latter for everything. Furthermore, we note that omitting any element of the cycle destroys the effectiveness of the others.

In order to investigate duration-based contracts for the Internet, we developed a game theory model for a differentiated service-oriented Internet with duration-based contracts. The model uses variational inequality theory for the formulation of the equilibrium in service usage rates, quality, and contract durations and projected dynamical systems theory for the underlying competitive dynamics. This paper we will be presenting at the 2015  INFORMS Computing Society Conference in Richmond,, VA in mid-January.   The paper will also be published in the conference proceedings. My co-authors on this paper are: Professor Tilman Wolf, who is the Lead PI on our NSF project, Sara Saberi, one of my doctoral students in Management Science at the Isenberg School, who this year received the prestigious 2014 Isenberg Scholar Award, and also Professor Ladimer S. Nagurney, whose university posted a writeup on our paper.

And for those of you who can make it, next Friday, Professor Tilman Wolf will be delivering a talk on ChoiceNet at the Isenberg School of Management in our great UMass Amherst INFORMS Speaker Series. I hope that you can join us!