Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr S P Maj

Abstract

Originally conceived and funded as a research project, the Internet has grown into a commercial, global and integrated service network. This has changed the nature of traffic on the Internet with the increasing use of things like video conferencing and time critical transactions. These forms of Internet usage place high demands on bandwidth. Added to this is the fact that the number of users is increasing at a dramatic rate and shows no signs of slowing. This is leading to a 'tragedy of the commons' where endemic congestion will reduce the value of the Internet to everyone. It also implies the introduction of some form of quality of service (QoS) to differentiate time critical traffic from less time critical traffic. Pricing usage has been shown to be effective in controlling congestion by promoting more effective resource allocation. To provide the necessary QoS, there is an argument that simply increasing the available bandwidth will achieve this, while at the same time maintaining the simple model of the current Internet. However, there is also an argument that a more complex model may be needed that provides various levels of QoS with an associated pricing scheme to manage usage of these levels of QoS. A major part of the debate on this subject surrounds the trade-off between efficiency, economics and complexity that exists in introducing QoS and pricing to the Internet. This document discusses some of these issues, presents some of the current proposals for pricing Internet usage and finally compares the presented pricing proposals.

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