By Robert Frieden
Edited by Marcela Viviana Ruiz Martinez, Olga Slobodyanyuk and Yaping Zhang
In a relatively short time, key interconnection negotiations that make the Internet globally accessible have become less cooperative and more contentious. At the Internet’s inception, Internet Service Providers (“ISPs”) providing essential bit switching and transmission functions largely embraced the twin goals of expanding connections and the number of users.  These ventures refrained from metering traffic and charging for carriage based on the assumption that traffic volumes roughly matched, or that traffic measurement was not worth the bother in light of external funding from government grants. Most ISPs bartered network access through a process known as peering in lieu of metering traffic and billing for network use.
As governments removed subsidies and commercial carriers invested substantial funds to build larger and faster networks, ISPs more accurately identified carriers and customers triggering higher costs and targeted them for rates increases. Currently the issue of cost causation has become a key commercial and regulatory policy issue, because of the potential for an ISP to disadvantage competitors as well as the possibility of traffic disconnections and service degradation when parties cannot agree on interconnection terms.