The Net Neutrality Debate: Content Charges, Fast Lanes, and ISP Content Providersby@netneutrality

The Net Neutrality Debate: Content Charges, Fast Lanes, and ISP Content Providers

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The Net Neutrality debate revolves around issues like content-based subscription packages, "fast lanes," and the role of ISP content providers. Opponents argue for content-based charges to manage network resources, while proponents advocate for usage-based allocation to ensure fair competition and innovation. International ISPs add another layer of complexity to the discussion, highlighting regulatory challenges and potential impacts on consumer choice and pricing.
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(1) William P. Wagner IV, Claremont Graduate University.

Abstract & Introduction

Definition of Key Terms

Fundamentals of Internet Operation


Usage-Based Economic Models

Net Neutrality

Legal History

Researcher Conclusions

Areas for Further Exploration & References

6. Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality enters the equation when the network providers want to charge based on content. The debate in the U.S. has moved to the courts and is grounded in a few basic concepts. The basics of the debate are not usually contested, it’s the results of any changes and the legal foundations for either preventing or allowing those changes that is cause for debate.

6.1. Content Based Subscription Packages

The National ISPs want to be allowed to charge certain Content Providers more than others at one end, and charge consumers at the other end for access to that same content. In both cases this might be in addition to any usage fees.

Those opposed to net neutrality regulation argue that ISPs need to be able to charge both consumers and providers based on content because certain content providers use more network resources than others, putting un-acceptable demands on the ISP to provide network resources [12]. They claim that regulation will stifle competition amongst ISPs, slowing the spread of broadband and increasing costs to consumers.

Those in favor of net neutrality legislation argue that the network resources should be allocated and paid for based solely on usage rather than content. Further, they argue that the networks need to remain content neutral in order to ensure true competition, innovation and investment along the “edge” of the internet. Proponents argue that this edge activity is what spurs network growth and user need, not the other way around.

6.2. “Fast lanes”

The National ISPs want to be able to throttle the speed or charge extra based on content or content provider to provide “fast lanes.”

Opponents of net neutrality legislation argue that the content does not always originate on their network, so they are forced to absorb increased network traffic and allocate resources without seeing any direct benefit.

Proponents of net neutrality argue that the ISPs bill their customers based on a usage plan that measures both speed and total data. The consumer is paying for a certain size pipe. The ISP does not refund money when the pipe is un-used, and the consumer cannot exceed the size of the pipe, so why should the ISP charge the consumer more when they maximize their purchased allocation?

6.3. ISP Content Providers

Some of the National ISPs are also Content Providers.

Opponents of net neutrality argue this has no bearing on the previous two changes. They argue that this will not lead to ISPs increasing prices to their competitors, but instead will offer consumers discounted prices for in-house entertainment.

Proponents of net neutrality argue that most of the country is only served by one or two high-speed solutions per location, so allowing an ISP to throttle or surcharge their consumers based on content or creator is monopolistic. Most consumers simply do not have any option to change to. They argue this would lead to less competition and innovation, and higher prices to the consumer for less bandwidth.

6.4. International ISPs

The National ISPs want regulation to prevent similar billing structures from the International ISPs down to the National level. The National ISPs argue that National ISPs provide the necessary link to needed customers while International ISPs are basically just networking between National ISPs.

The National ISPs argue they provide the crucial link to the consumers of both networking and application services and in many cases they are the sole provider, so the International ISPs need them to reach the consumers.

The International ISPs argue they need to absorb network traffic from all National ISPs and that some National ISPs use far more resources than others. Further, they argue that very little of the traffic they carry originates on their network – affording them little opportunity to charge at the source.

Proponents of network neutrality in the US would argue that the National ISPs represent themselves as competition to themselves when discussing U.S. Net Neutrality, however they present themselves as the sole provider in many cases when negotiating with the International ISPs.

This paper is available on arxiv under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 DEED license.