Commentary

Survey: Most Web Users Want Neutrality Rules For Wireless Providers

The vast majority of Web users want wireless companies to follow net neutrality rules, according to a surveyreleased on Tuesday by the trade group Internet Association.

For the study, the Internet Association surveyed 550 Web users about their opinions on open Internet principles. More than two out of three respondents -- 67% -- said that wireless providers should not be allowed to block lawful sites or apps.

An even larger proportion of respondents -- 86% -- indicated that they oppose FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to allow broadband providers to create online fast lanes, which would offer speedier traffic delivery to companies willing to pay extra.

Three out of four respondents -- around 76% -- said they “strongly” disagreed that wireless providers should be allowed to offer faster access to some sites and apps, while slowing down others.  More than 9% said they “somewhat” disagreed that wireless companies should be permitted to offer paid prioritization.

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The survey results align with the position of the Internet Association, which is urging the FCC to enact rules that would prohibit broadband providers from creating fast lanes. The trade group -- which includes large Web companies like Netflix, Amazon, Google and Facebook -- also recently called for the FCC to redefine broadband as speeds of faster than 4 Mbps.

In 2010, when the FCC first enacted neutrality rules, the agency imposed less stringent regulations on wireless providers. Those regulations prohibited wired carriers from blocking or degrading sites and apps, and from engaging in unreasonable discrimination. But the rules only prohibited wireless carriers from blocking or degrading competing apps.

Those former regulations were invalidated earlier this year by a federal appellate court, spurring the FCC's current initiative to create new rules.

The Internet Association is now asking the FCC to back away from its prior decision to impose different wireless and wireline rules. The group points out that even if wireless companies face more technical challenges than wireline providers, any FCC rules would allow for “reasonable” traffic management practices.

“To the extent wireless networks are constrained by bandwidth, the FCC’s existing exception for reasonable network management provides sufficient flexibility,” the group says.

 

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