Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The market for integers: Edelman and Schwarz on IP addresses

Pricing and Efficiency in the Market for IP Addresses
Benjamin Edelman , Harvard Business School and Michael Schwarz, Google
June 9, 2013
We consider market rules for the transfer of IP addresses, numeric identi fiers required by all  computers connected to the Internet. Excessive fragmentation of IP address blocks causes growth in the Internet's routing table, which is socially costly, so an IP address market should discourage subdividing IP address blocks more than necessary. Yet IP address transfer rules also need to facilitate purchase by the networks that need the addresses most, from the networks that value them least. We propose a market rule that avoids excessive fragmentation while almost achieving social efficiency, and we argue that implementation of this rule is feasible despite the limited powers of central authorities. We also off er a framework for the price trajectory of IP addresses. In a world without uncertainty, the unit price of IP addresses is constant until all addresses are in use and begins to decrease at that time. With uncertainty, the price before that time is a martingale, and the price trajectory afterwards is a supermartingale. Finally, we explore the role of rental markets in sharing information about address value and assuring allocative efficiency

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