Survey Sparks QOS Fee Debate
The survey, commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America (CNA), the Consumers Union, and Free Press, says more than two thirds of the Internet users it surveyed believe network operators should adhere to network neutrality principles. Only 47 percent expected them to actually do so; and over half termed this a “very serious problem.” (See Net Neutrality Goes to Washington.)
Likewise, a Light Reading poll shows that many of our readers believe operators will impair certain services, and should be able to charge “QOS fees” from Internet companies like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG). (See Light Readers Favor QOS Fees.)
The voice and video services being rolled out by companies like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) could face competitive pressure from the Internet voice and video services like those of Google and Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG) (See Google Goes to Wonkytown.) Telephone companies and cable operators, which own 93 percent of all U.S. broadband lines, say application companies should have to pay to make the quality of their services comparable to what the network operators can deliver themselves. (See QOS Fees Could Change Everything .)
The Bells and their lobbyists wasted no time reacting to the survey, which was released Wednesday. “The Internet is the success it is today because the government has maintained a vigilant but hands-off approach that has allowed companies to innovate in direct response to the evolving wants and needs of their customers,” says Ed Merlis, VP of regulatory affairs for the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) .
Sources in Washington say the net neutrality discussion will make its way into legislation soon. (See New Telecom Bill Draws Raves.) And, to further the discussion, the Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold a net neutrality hearing on February 7.
— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading