Public Concerned about Internet Access, Wants Policies to Ensure Access

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Washington, D.C., March 8, 2011 – Americans have an overwhelmingly negative view of network management practices that impede their access to the Internet, web sites, applications or content and want policymakers to adopt rules to ensure equal access, according to a national public opinion survey released today by the Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union.

“By a margin of 3 to one the public says practices like tiering, paid prioritization, degrading and blocking websites, content and applications are problematic,” said Mark Cooper, Director of Research at the Consumer Federation of America and principle author of the report, “and by a margin of four to one they want either the Congress or the Federal Communications Commission to adopt policies to ensure access.”

The report, entitled Internet Access and Network Management Practices: The Public Remains Concerned and Wants Policies to Ensure Access, found that the three-quarters of respondents who say the Internet is important to them expressed the greatest concern about network management practices that impede access and the highest level of support for policies to ensure access.

“Respondents were clear that one thing they didn’t want is for Congress to stop the FCC from taking action against these problematic practices,” said Parul P. Desai, Communications Policy Counsel for Consumers Union. “When you couple the findings of this new survey with the support from communications companies, Internet companies and public interest groups who all back the FCC’s ability to enforce the new network neutrality rules, it’s clear that the lawmakers seeking to block the FCC from implementing the order are out of line with the interests of the public.”

“There is a majority of support for policies that will ensure access across all demographic groups and political orientations,” Cooper added. “This isn’t a partisan issue: a majority of respondents who say they are or lean Republican and believe the Internet is important support FCC action.”

Among respondents who say the Internet is important to them:

78% of the respondents said consumer tiering is problematic (68%=severe problem)
70% of the respondents said paid prioritization is problematic (53%=severe problem)
62% of the respondents said service degrading is problematic (48%=severe problem)

With respect to policies to ensure access, among the respondents who say the Internet is important to them:

59% of respondents agree (42% strongly) with the statement that the FCC should adopt policies to ensure access
54% of respondents agree (41% strongly) with the statement that the Congress should adopt policies to ensure access.

In contrast, only 28% agree with the statement that Congress should stop the Federal Communications Commission from adopting policies to ensure access

“The course of action that consistently received the highest support, 63% overall, 51% strong, is one that ensures a single set of policies apply to wireless and wireline high speed Internet service. This indicates that the FCC should continue to be vigilant in monitoring how the wireless market is evolving to ensure that consumers are protected,” Desai concluded.

A copy of the report can be found at http://www.consumerfed.org/pdfs/NetNeutSurvey20113-8.pdf

The Consumer Federation of America is an association of nearly 300 nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.