Dynamics of communication protocol diffusion: the case of multipath TCP
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During the last decade the Internet has faced an architectural stagnation due to lack of wide scale adoption of new communication protocols. A significant reason for non-adoption is that the conflicting interests of networked stakeholders involved in the diffusion process are not understood or taken into account during the protocol development. This paper increases understanding of the dynamics of communication protocol diffusion and provides feedback to protocol development by studying the case of Multipath TCP (MPTCP). Firstly, we introduce a protocol development process which builds on the existing diffusion of innovation theories. Secondly, a quantitative analysis using system dynamics is provided to evaluate the criticality of the factors affecting the MPTCP diffusion. The diffusion of communication protocols is found to follow three adoption models differentiated by the basis of adoption decision. The key finding is that unintentional adoption, alongside device acquisitions or operating system updates, adds a new dimension to the diffusion of innovations theory and may have a significant impact on protocol diffusion. The cross-side network effects between different adopter groups play also an important role and may lead to either market pull or technology push type of diffusion depending on which stakeholder starts to adopt first. Although MPTCP is used as an example protocol, the findings can be also applied to the diffusion studies of other communication protocols.
KeywordsProtocol diffusion Adoption Multipath TCP System dynamics
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