U.S. DOJ Wary of Net Neutrality; Prioritization Of Certain Content May Actually be "Procompetitive"


This has some major implications for content companies: Antitrust authorities at the U.S. Justice Department have warned FCC against imposing net neutrality regulations, saying that would deter broadband ISPs from “upgrading and expanding their networks to reach more Americans.” The Department stated that “precluding broadband providers from charging content and application providers directly for faster or more reliable service could shift the entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements onto consumers. If the average consumer is unwilling or unable to pay more for broadband Internet access, the result could be to reduce or delay critical network expansion and improvement.”

Addressing content companies specifically: “The types of conduct that some proponents of regulation seek to prohibit–e.g., the prioritization of certain content and content providers (such as streaming video and other latency-sensitive content), offering of premium services and different levels of quality of service, preferential treatment of certain content, and vertical integration–in many instances actually may be procompetitive. A blanket prohibition on such conduct would likely result in significant marketplace distortion. Even assuming that a potential danger exists, the ambiguity of what conduct needs to be prohibited raises a real possibility that regulation would prohibit some conduct that is beneficial, while failing to stop other conduct that may be harmful.”

The agency said providing different levels of service is common, efficient and could satisfy consumers. As an example, it cited that the U.S. Postal Service charges customers different guarantees and speeds for package delivery, ranging from bulk mail to overnight delivery. The full filing from DOJ is here.

AT&T of course supports this stance: “We continue to urge policymakers to focus on the real issue of the broadband era, which is to promote the benefits of broadband services at affordable rates for all consumers,” AT&T said in a statement.

The agency’s stance comes more than two months after Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras cautioned policy makers to enact Net neutrality regulation, reports AP.



Content companies already pay for bandwidth where their servers are hosted. I can guarantee you that the ISP's are not 'losing money'. These ISPs and the DOJ are trying to double charge consumers.

The DOJ leaves out the fact that the US Post Office does not charge the recipient of the mail a monthly subscription fee to receive mail (like we pay for internet access). If the DOJ wants to remove net neutrality and have it behave like the post office then I will expect free broadband internet service at my house just like I get free mail delivery.


I see where you make the point about type now. My bad. And yes, the content type argument made by ISPs is flimsy (a generous term).

Jamie Poitra

You misunderstood me.

I didn't say that amount of data didn't matter. I said the kind of data didn't matter.

If an ISP wants to charge me more for the amount of data I transfer then they are welcome to. And that has nothing to do with Net Neutrality as the argument currently stands. Of course volume matters. Content, however, does not matter. And it shouldn't.

I currently pay Qwest for a 1.5Mb/s connection. It is understood in my agreement with them that this means I download data at that speed and according to my agreement I download as much as I want. Qwest made that contract, not me. And it doesn't provide me an unlimited amount of data transfer since my connection is essentially throttled Qwest already knows what the maximum amount of data I can transfer will be.

I've had other ISPs I've used limit the amount of data I could transfer in a given amount of time (GCI Cable Internet in Alaska). That was their right and I took no issue with that. They have a relatively limited amount of bandwidth to pull data through in that area and they can't afford to provide unlimited plans at the connection speeds they provide. That is simple business sense.

The issue of Net Neutrality is that ISPs want to turn the type and source of the data into an artificial excuse to charge more. I have no issue with an ISP charging me extra for the volume of data I go through (this is what I do for me server every month I use more than my alloted 50GB's per month). I have tons of issue with them charging me more because I want to go to a particular site or transfer a particular kind of data.


Sorry Jamie, I have to say, your analogy is off. Your ISP's cost is based on the amount of data it sends, not simply that it sends data. A 300 Mb video will absolutely cost more than a 30 Mb Word doc. Regular consumers don't see the cost of sending either but I guarentee that your ISP (and the YouTubes of the world) do.

Content companies are worried about their own bottom line and certainly don't want telecom having to much say over their payload. Telecom companies see all this extra traffic coming and wants to price things more efficiently (and beneficially). All of this leads to procompetitive behavior, which you get in any industry (along with the politics).

Eventually, both sides will have to grow up. Content companies will face a change in the way they pay for bandwidth and telecom will have to realize that they won't be allowed to use their cartel position to dominate another market.

Jamie Poitra

I'm not sure the example given makes any sense at all. We already pay companies more for faster access just like we pay the post office more for faster sending.

The question is whether or not we should have to pay more for certain sites to work. Or whether we should have to pay more for certain kinds of content to be downloaded. Arguments that certain kinds of things cost more to send don't make sense either.

The difference is that data is data. The reasons the post office has for differentiating physical objects don't carry over when you are talking about ones and zeros. It doesn't cost an ISP more to send you ones and zeros from google.com than it does for them to send ones and zeros from yahoo.com. Likewise for video data versus a text data. It all looks and acts the same until a computer interprets it. We already pay for our bandwidth. Anything more more is artificial.

That ISPs want to make it possible for them to pretend that it does is not in the interest of consumers or companies in general. It is only in the interest of ISPs and corporations with enough clout to take advantage of the situation.

Who pays the government to come up with this stuff? Oh, I do.

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