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Green Economics

Stuck in an Internet traffic jam?

Parallels from physical traffic jams shed light on Internet congestion.

By Matthew E. KahnGuest blogger / October 11, 2010

This Sept. 24, 2010 photo shows a traffic jam in Jakarta, Indonesia. Tolls and HOV lanes can help ease physical traffic congestion, but what's the equivalent for Internet bandwidth jams?

Tatan Syuflana / AP / File

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Can we build enough new roads to reduce traffic congestion? The answer is no. The same issue arise in the case of Internet capacity. As usual, we look for engineering solutions rather than demand side management pricing efforts. Time of day pricing could certainly help but I don't know how users would be charged. It would also interest me to learn whether "traffic congestion" and "internet traffic congestion" are really the same thing? What is the externality in each case depending on the physical realities that must playout to get from point A to point B on a road versus in a light beam.

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