Computer Sciences Dept.

From dumb pipes to rivers of money: a network payment system

Cristian Estan, Suman Banerjee, Aditya Akella, Yi Pan
2008

We propose extending the service interface of IP with the ability to carry small payments from the sender to the receiver and to ISPs on the path. This allows an endpoint to purchase improved end to end service for the packets it sends and receives. These payments are a new source of revenue for ISPs and content providers. We argue that the fine grained control and the additional revenue streams enabled by our proposal may provide a solution to the network neutrality debate without either stifling ISP growth or unfairly taxing content providers.

To support this extension of network functionality,we propose a multi-ISP accounting framework which is efficient, convenient, and requires only limited trust. The accounting header for data packets is typically no larger than 20 bytes and data plane processing is not more complex than today no authentication or cryptography are needed. All actual payments are large and happen between neighbors who already have contracts. A scalable accounting system owned and operated by ISPs provides audit trails that expose cheating attempts. Simple mechanisms prevent malicious hackers from stealing money from hijacked computers.

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