Survey Says: Net Neutrality Debate Rages On

The controversy over Net Neutrality isn't going away anytime soon, despite a federal appeals court ruling that halted the FCC's enforcement of its rules, according to the Light Reading community.

In an informal and unscientific poll, readers said overwhelmingly that Net Neutrality is nowhere near resolution. (See Net Neutrality Health Check.)

Is Net Neutrality a dead issue in the US?

Twenty-four percent of readers said Net Neutrality is not a dead issue because it has broad support among Internet users, and 23% said it is never destined to be a dead issue in the US.

Even those slightly optimistic that the court ruling has quieted things for now say that is a temporary state. Twenty-two percent said the issue will be resurrected when broadband ISPs get greedy and try to get over-the-top content providers to pay up or block a service for commercial reasons.

For those new to Internet politics -- including the 9% of respondents who claimed not to know what we're talking about -- Net Neutrality refers to the principle that broadband ISPs should handle all traffic the same, regardless of its origin or purpose. In the US, the issue has been debated for the better part of the last decade. Backers say discrimination in how traffic is handled would let the telecom and cable companies that dominate the ISP world pick and choose Internet winners and stifle innovation by making it harder for new companies to gain an audience. Opponents, including those very same ISPs, say this is a solution in search of a problem -- that they support a wide-open Internet but would like the option of offering premium services to content providers.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) leapt into the fray with its Open Internet Order, which imposed some Net Neutrality rules on the ISPs. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down those rules. (See Net Neutrality Fight Not Over.)

Only 10% of Light Reading's readers expect the FCC to appeal the decision, and 12% said it won't be able to muster the political clout to re-regulate the Internet in a court-acceptable fashion.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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DanJones 1/27/2014 | 3:45:30 PM
EFF says The EFF says the FCC can't legislate Net Neutrality:

missmouser33 1/27/2014 | 12:53:21 PM
Internet Must Go Net neutrality is a growing issue, and it's important to keep up with all of these changes that are going on. If anyone kind of needs a refresher on the basics, here's a great short mockumentary to bring you up to speed: www.theinternetmustgo.com/
MarkC73 1/26/2014 | 4:21:47 PM
Re: Are our minds made up? What's hard is that the relationships are complex; no one does just one thing anymore.  For instance, Netflix, if I am a carrier and if my subscribers are eating up too much bandwidth going to Netflix every night driving up my upstream costs because the average user is on more than was anticipated when the cost margins for the product was created, I would most likely implement a cache offered by Netflix or get some other cdn provider etc. etc.  At first glance this looks like a win / win, I save on a large % on bandwidth, customers get lower latency (better performance), Netflix will save on their upstream costs.  Then all of a sudden Netflix closes some (fictitious) deal to offer OTT that is now competing directly with one of my products.  Conflict now arises where now, I'm helping my competition provide better service to my customers, but I can't just throw them out the door, I need them too.

It's difficult to do much other than speculate what will happen because we are all intertwined; but yes some of us need others more than others need us.  It's never equal across the board or with peers.

Personally, I feel (from what I know about) Net Neutrality won't make it in to regulatory law as it stands or stood today.  I believe we are on a cusp of complex application sensitive services era, where services will be based not on connectivity, but on the upper layers of what you are doing to enhance the user experience.  Strategies and relationships as well as technologies are still being forged.

I've still got like 20 years left of work in me, hopefully I'll be around to what happens. Cheers!
brookseven 1/24/2014 | 12:07:28 PM
Re: Are our minds made up? Carol,

I was going to write a long screed but let me give you three points:

1 - The owners of Hulu are paid to allow their content to go out over the best QoS network available.

2 - I think it is more likely that Hulu will start cutting off carriers that don't pay them to allow their customers to access their content.  As soon as cord cutting gets big, that is the next frontier.

3 - QoS comes with a guarantee.  What carrier is ready to guarantee service to every DSL line, Cable Modem, FTTH ONT and Cell Phone? What carrier has their Internet service ready for 5 9s?

mjleahy 1/24/2014 | 12:02:22 PM
It's the consumer of the content that will decide Value It seems all of this discussion presumes the the final consumer of the content will not decide the value of the content to them....  They will consider the "Value/Content/Price" equation and in the end vote with their wallets....

M in Dallas TX
Carol Wilson 1/24/2014 | 11:44:06 AM
Re: Are our minds made up? However you describe it, I've been pretty consistent in what I'm discussing here and that is the ability and right of the broadband ISPs or the wireless carriers either to create tiered services - whether the value of those services is defined by the QoS assigned to specific traffic or to some other metric, such as what Karl describes for wireless services. 

I don't think the conversation between Hulu and Verizon goes as you have described it. Verizon doesn't stomp into Hulu and demand they start paying, they instead offer them a guaranteed QoS for XX amount per customer and if Hulu says no, then its services remain best-effort while someone else, possibly Netflix or another OTT player, opts for the higher price to get guaranteed QoS. Netflix then passes that on to their customers in the form of a service premium, most likely.

I realize there are enormous complications in the process because Verizon is paying Hulu's triple threat of parent companies to carry their other content over FiOS TV. But those same companies, Disney, Fox and NBC, have to be concerned about whether their content prices are driving payTV services up so high that more folks start cord-cutting or cord-shaving. 

KBode 1/24/2014 | 11:34:17 AM
Re: Are our minds made up? I'm still interested in seeing how this shakes out with no rules in place.

The Netflix's (as made clear in the earnings report) don't want their traffic degraded for a toll, but would they agree to something like AT&T's Sponsored Data, where they pay a fee to have their bandwidth not count against the cap? I know ESPN seems excited about the prospect.

On the surface that sounds like a great deal for consumers, until you realize they'll have to pay those costs one way or the other, as well as the fact that letting deeper-pocketed companies get preferred status in ads and elsewhere as "cap free" opens up an entirely new paragidm that may not be good for the end user and openness.

The effort to encode rules I think is over (and honestly died several years back in a puff of partisan bickering and disinformation), but the fight certainly isn't.
brookseven 1/23/2014 | 7:25:27 PM
Re: Are our minds made up? So and first you have just changed the target and second you killed the argument they can make.

1 - First we were talking about QoS payments. Now we are talking about carry payments.

2 - Imagine the first meeting with Hulu...Verizon says, "We want to charge you."  Hulu says, "Sure, oh by the way to do that we need to renegotiate the price of ESPN to $1M per home. In fact, I have the contract right here.  Let me know if you want to ask again, I have a pen and can make that $2M/home pretty quickly as I put those prices in an appendix."

Which is the problem...so since realistically since you can't charge Hulu then you will end up with unfair practices if you only charge Netflix.  That is unless you only charge Netflix's CDN provider for assymetry of traffic.  That could be fixed by extending the CDNs into the ISP networks and money being cut that way.  That by the way seems like a fair deal all around and should be very cheap for everyone to implement. 

The problem is MUCH worse for the carriers on the Wireless side.  And by that, I mean their argument to charge OTT providers.  Since they are already billing per bit to the user at a much higher rate.

Carol Wilson 1/23/2014 | 6:20:27 PM
Re: Are our minds made up? Well, you are often too clever for us. 

But the OTT crowd that the ISPs want to charge are the Netflixes and the Hulus of the world 

brookseven 1/23/2014 | 6:02:19 PM
Re: Are our minds made up? Okay so you missed my clever point. Comcast, fios & uverse already pay content owners for pay tv. They give this content max qos. Hard to see those folks paying to do it ott. Seven
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