A lot of things have changed in the past decade. Most of the changes have been good and proved to be for the better. Just like everything else, the internet has also changed drastically. From company positions, and business models to architecture, there’s been a noticeable change.
The internet’s architecture has flattened, centralized, and become very dependent on a group called hyperscalers. The internet traffic has also changed and become asymmetrical and the hyperscalers generate most of the traffic and they also hold bargaining power.
The internet’s interconnection business model however was not able to change as drastically as the other components in the early internet years. In light of the new dynamics, there’s been a resurging need to debate the need to revisit assumptions on the fair contribution of hyperscalers.
The radical change of the internet in the past decade
Of all of the counterarguments and cross-cutting arguments that have risen on the proposal of the fair contribution of the hyperscalers, which are large traffic generators to the cost that they bring in the telecommunication networks, there’s only one that stands supreme and deserves attention.
For more than ten years, this particular issue has been raised multiple times but has failed to garner enough support and has failed to move forward, and because of that, some keep saying that it does not make sense to keep bringing it up. This issue is a total claim that the internet has not changed, and this itself is surprising.
That is because there’s evidence of the change, and almost everything has changed in it. The companies that form the ecosystem of the internet have shifted and changed, the volume of traffic has grown and changed, and the business models and the internet’s architecture have changed.
On the initial Internet, the internet has seen the internet being dominated by hyperscalers, which make up a small group of companies. And that is with the websites, the well-balanced ecosystem between content creators and their consumers, telecommunications networks that are responsible for transporting the content, and the multitude of companies
The hyperscalers have enjoyed domination that is incontestable and unquestionable to date because of their unique business models with their famous trend of “winner takes all.” This domination has, however, led to structural challenges that ended up with regions like European Union bringing in legislative responses like the Digital Markets Act.
That being said, there is a need for revision of models and rules that were put in place in the early internet era as they no longer fit in the reality of the current year. It is finally time to bring a new solid foundation that will be a perfect fit with a new upcoming internet evolution and architecture. It is finally time to oust the current one and bring in new designs.
While many are in agreement with the idea of reviewing and reassessment, most of the hyperscalers are hesitant to implement the changes. But considering that this proposal has been stale for a very long time, it is high time the companies with power tone it down and allows room for change, so that there will be a balanced Internet ecosystem. The counterarguments made to the claims of telecommunication networks and operators should be made while there is a new system with the facts and data, not an old one.
Initial Internet architecture
The internet is made up of interconnected networks. This architecture of networks was formerly a hierarchy. That means there were three levels of networks;
- This tier is made up of global networks. This level had full accessibility to every kind of user and content in the world. This tier was nicknamed the backbone of the Internet.
- This tier is made up of regional networks and lastly
- This tier. It is made of local networks where all internet users, applications, and content providers were connected.
During the first era of the internet, the content and application providers had to be connected to an operator that in turn provided them with internet access.
The access provided was then used to connect the providers to global networks. That means that two different services were used to interconnect different networks. All the third tier had to do was pay for the transit service. Transit service was used to give a user access to any of the content they desired.
When two networks interconnected directly, there was no need for the transit fee. This was only for networks at the same level and connecting directly was called a ” peering agreement.”
By doing this, the users got access to content but were not provided with visibility and content of any other networks.
Flattening the internet’s architecture
Following the growth of video streaming, the internet architecture had to change and adapt to rising needs. Eventually, new elements were introduced that contributed to the drastic change of the internet. The introduction of these elements has ended up with the internet’s evolution into a flat network without a hierarchy whatsoever.
There was the Introduction of content delivery networks (CDN). This reduced latency and the need for increased capacity in the first tiers of the architecture, improving user experience in the run. Hyperscalers, on the other hand, consolidated and grew their platform models, built their selective content delivery networks, and built their selective transport models.
Even though this didn’t manage to evolve an interconnected business model, the internet architecture associated with the model changed greatly. Considering that the rules of interconnections haven’t changed either, hyperscalers are still benefiting from this model. It would seem as if these hyperscalers did not allow change to the rules, considering the benefits they reap from that.
With the changes that have been implemented, the delivery of content can now skip the traditional Internet hierarchy and most of the traffic of internet traffic is now generated by larger hyperscalers.
The top internet transit connectivity providers are hyperscalers, but these companies can now reach networks directly without going through the traditional Internet hierarchy.