Is price discrimination on the network inevitable?

David Isenberg notes that price discrimination in networks is probably inevitable, but that it needs to take place at the ends, not in the middle:

One of Mile O’Dell’s aphorisms that has stood the test of time is, “Today’s optimization is tomorrow’s bottleneck.”

We need to accept that price discrimination happens, and focus on where it happens, for what and to whom. According to the End-to-End Principle, if you have a choice to put a function at the edge of the network or in the middle, you should put it at the edge. Price discrimination in the middle of the network is a risk to new app discovery and to free speech. We should keep the network stupid — and put the “for what” and “to whom” of price discrimination at the edge.

I had never heard the O’Dell quote before. It’s brilliant.

I certainly agree that price discrimination puts the brakes on innovation in networking applications. But I’m not sure how it can be moved to the edges the network, or if that is the right solution to the problem.

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