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...And instead talks about the importance of cable TV access

In a recent survey conducted by The Glover Park Group and Public Opinion Strategies LLC, 90 percent of Americans said they preferred to have choices for video service providers over net neutrality. Interestingly, the survey did not appear to address the real issue of net neutrality, which is whether or not network service providers should create tiered networks based on application and client. Instead, survey takers were simply asked whether or not they were more concerned about cable TV choices or net neutrality.

DailyTech has been following the net neutrality topic since the beginning of 2006. So far, the topic is still up in the air, but many content developers are saying that by allowing service providers to create tiered networks, it would impede on the development of Internet services and web applications. If things don't turn out well for net neutrality, Google previously stated it would start filing anti-trust cases against major telcos.

The questions in the survey conducted by The Glover Park Group also seemed to be one sided. For example, the questions about cable TV choices were easy to understand and well explained, but those concerning net neutrality were not. The survey explained that net neutrality as "enhancing Internet neutrality by barring high speed Internet providers from offering specialized services like faster speed and increased security for a fee." Technically, all service providers sell different packages that offer a variety of speeds and email options. From the explanation, the survey made it appear as though the questions were directed at the user, when in fact the issue has to do a lot more with content providers.

For example, we have Content Provider A, which sells books and music CDs online. We also have Content Provider B, which competes with A. We also have an "Internet service provider" that has a large customer base. If Content Provider A pays the "Internet service provider" a certain amount of money to allow users access to its site faster and easier than Content Provider B, herein we have the problem of net neutrality -- or the lack of. From the end user's standpoint, he or she would just be thinking "B seems to always be slow, I think I'll just shop at A."

Despite the obvious flaw in questioning, The Glover Park Group found (PDF) the following:
  • 66 percent were more concerned with delivering TV and video services
  • 19 percent were concerned with net neutrality
  • 3 percent were concerned with both
  • 8 percent were concerned with neither
  • 4 percent didn't know or refused to answer
Interestingly, when asked how many people have even heard of net neutrality, 91 percent said no and only 7 percent said yes. The remaining 1 percent didn't know. In fact, the majority of the survey revolved around cable TV choices. The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation contracted the survey and published the findings as authoritative, which can be read here. From the release:

The survey found that very few registered voters are familiar with the issue of network neutrality. In some regions of the country, only 5 percent of likely voters had even heard of “Net Neutrality.” The survey found broad support for a “Consumer Internet Bill of Rights,” like that contained in the Senate’s communications bill. The provision contained in the Senate bill prevents Internet service providers from blocking access to competitors or degrading a consumer’s broadband service.  According to the survey, when presented with a choice between video choice and additional net neutrality legislation, an overwhelming majority of voters supported video choice.

In other words, the US government is downplaying the importance of net neutrality for both consumers and content providers by introducing a much more well known everyday topic of cable TV. The poll was funded by Verizon, which previously said that it disagreed with the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (COPE). The COPE act allows local governments to collect up to five percent of fees from Internet service providers to put towards developing high speed access in areas without it. The COPE act also will allow local governments to control what Internet service providers do and what they can charge customers if they are the only provider in a certain area -- i.e. monopoly.

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Write your senator / congressman
By ajfink on 9/20/2006 12:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
So very true. Companies can't be allowed to essentially hold the Internet hostage.

By Trisped on 9/20/2006 3:00:00 PM , Rating: 1
My senators are so stupid they think it is better to fight for gay marriage and rights for criminals and illegal aliens then it is to fight for something like this. Plus, one of them keeps spaming me and won't stop!

By rushfan2006 on 9/20/2006 3:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
"Pick your battles."...that's a theme I've heard pretty much my whole life mostly because its was one of the favorite "advice sayings" of a long ago ex-girlfriend and my folks say it a lot to.

There is so much wrong that that I disagree with today -- the war in Iraq, how we are handling the "war or Terra" (at least that's how it sounds the way Bush says it), the immigration issue (which is btw, possibly THE most important and significant domestic issue for the US that is so downplayed or ignored by most Americans), the economy, taxes, etc. etc....

All those things in my mind completely blow away the importance of Net Neutrality.

So if I'm gonna go through the hassle of researching to get my facts straight, heckling my senator, and then following up agencies or groups in support of an issue -- I'll devote that time and energy into something SIGNIFICANTLY more important than Net Neutrality.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken
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