ISPs Back Legislative Limitation on Paid Prioritization

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Michael Powell, president of NCTA – The Internet & Television Association; Meredith Attwell Baker, president of CTIA; and Jonathan Spalter, president, USTelecom, all members of the Broadband for America coalition, pledged, once again, not to block or throttle content. They also said they would support legislation that would prevent a paid prioritization regime where ISPs engineered so-called slow lanes and charged a toll to get on the fast lane. Powell, a former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said they were ready for Congress to step in with rules, including prohibiting what he suggested would be unreasonable paid prioritization.

Powell said that while there were pro-consumer prioritization possibilities, it would not be in ISP's interests to come up with a regime to un-degrade for a price. He also pointed out that while the rules have already allowed for private fast lanes, ISPs have not rushed to create those--the FCC had signaled that such private nets could not be used as a way to skirt net neutrality rules, so there was also some built-in disincentive to, say, creating a video service over a private net. Powell said he did not exactly what a legislative limitation on paid prioritization would look like, but that "the idea that ISPs would attempt to engineer a degraded, slow-lane experience for some people and cause people to pay a toll to have a significantly higher quality experience is something we recognize and would support forceful rules to prevent." Powell encouraged Democrats and activists concerned about paid prioritization to engage with the other side to "find a formulation that adequately addresses their concerns." He said NCTA would be an active partner in those conversations. Spalter added that USTelecom would encourage those conversations.

Attwell Baker said her networks were all about getting faster, and she could not see them slowing their nets and retaining customers. "Just imagine the commercials and tweets you would see from the other providers." She talked about being able to differentiate services -- the pro-consumer argument for some types of paid prioritization, which depends on customers having competitive choices, which she said was the case with wireless.

Powell, said that, sadly, the debate over the rule rollback has been marred by a lack of civility and rational debate. He said one of the most unfortunate aspects was that the public had been given a catastrophic, and inaccurate, vision. Powell said the net will not be compromised in any meaningful way, not for shoppers, political speakers, educational institutions, or anyone else.

ISPs Back Legislative Limitation on Paid Prioritization Broadband Provider Lobbyists Aim to Debunk 'Overexaggerated" Net Neutrality Fears