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Blocking or Metering Broadband Access is a False Choice, Says New Report

In a report released today by the Free Press, Derek Turner, Research Director argues that, in light of recent FCC ruling against Comcast, it is a “false choice” to believe that “because application blocking is out of bounds, providers now will be forced to use some type of ‘metering’ to control network congestion.” In other words, if ISPs are not allowed to block applications, then usage-based pricing is NOT their only other viable option, asserts Turner.

“By stirring up fears of higher monthly bills, this posturing attempts to delegitimize the Commission’s worthy action, giving consumers the false impression that they must choose between secret Internet blocking or the very undesirable practice of metering,” says Turner. “This is a false choice, one most providers don’t even consider necessary or practical. These scare tactics shouldn’t deter anyone from pursuing the policies we need to preserve a free and open Internet.”

Some of the conclusions drawn in the report include the following:

• Talk of metering is not new and has nothing to do with the FCC’s laudable decision to prohibit providers from blocking applications. Cox has had bandwidth caps in place since 2003 but was still caught blocking applications. Time Warner floated plans to meter as early as 2002.

• Metering is the wrong solution for Internet users. History shows that consumers strongly prefer simple, flat-rate pricing to metering. They do not want to look over their shoulder and face surprise higher monthly bills. This is likely to encourage all subscribers - not just high-bandwidth users—to curb their Internet use.

• Metering is bad business for Internet service providers. Not only does it decrease Internet use, it discourages the development of and demand for new and innovative applications that give the Internet its value. ISPs that meter are likely to see a subscription drop that hurts their bottom line.

• There are strong financial incentives at play that actually make it very unlikely that ISPs will make the drastic switch to metering. Congestion should be treated as a short-term problem, while continued investments are made to keep pace with demand. Offering simplicity and abundance is the best outcome for users, providers and the future of the Internet.

The full report is available for download: Blocking or Metering: A False Choice

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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