10 Reasons Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality


ISPs Have a History of Slowing or Blocking Data

lea delaria
Lea DeLaria of Netflix's 'Orange is The New Black' attends San Francisco Pride Day in 2014. Netflix has had to pay ISPs like Comcast and Verizon extra money to handle all the streaming video content it distributes. Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Netflix

Proponents of net neutrality talk about big ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner as if they were ruthless corporations that would stop at nothing to gain a competitive edge. Every ISP wants to increase market share and make its shareholders happy, but ISPs also want to please their customers ... right?

Not according to a 2014 survey called the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, in which Comcast and Time Warner customers gave their cable companies a failing grade for "high prices, poor reliability and declining customer service" [source: Aamoth].

In fact, Comcast has a history of sacrificing the quality of its customer experience in order to get more money from content providers. Starting in 2012, Comcast got in a fight with Netflix over the amount of bandwidth the streaming video site required from Comcast-owned networks. Comcast refused to upgrade its equipment to handle the increased traffic unless Netflix paid up [source: Associated Press]. The battle waged on for two years, during which Netflix service for millions of Comcast subscribers slowed to a crawl.

Since Comcast essentially owns the last-mile broadband connection to 25 million homes, Netflix had no choice but to pay for a direct peering arrangement. Verizon pulled a similar strong-arm tactic to get more money from Netflix in an earlier backroom deal [source: Kang]. These examples and others worry net neutrality advocates who fear that the FCC's proposed rules will sanction more anti-competitive behavior.