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.