INCOMPAS to Hill: Paid Prioritization Must Be Off Limits

INCOMPAS, whose members include computer companies, wants the House Communications Subcommittee to know just where it stands on paid prioritization: firmly against it.

That came in a letter from the group on the eve of an informational hearing Tuesday (April 17) on the practice.

INCOMPAS said paid prioritization, an umbrella term that covers a variety of business plans involving charging for prioritizing web traffic, gives internet service providers the incentive to "monetize network congestions," leading to a world of fast and slow lanes where ISPs pick the winners and losers.

“The ink isn’t even dry on the FCC’s proposal to end net neutrality, and ISP lobbyists are already urging Congress to allow for paid prioritization. You can have an open internet, or you can have paid prioritization, but you cannot have both," said INCOMPAS general counsel Angie Kronenberg.

ISPs have long argued, even before the FCC voted last December to eliminate the rule against paid prioritization, that there should be some flexibility for what they say is a pro-consumer way of differentiating among services, like, say paying more for express shipping over standard delivery. They also argue it would not slow or degrade other traffic.

ISPs have said, generally, that they can support prohibiting anti-competitive pair prioritization, but want the opportunity to explore what they see as potentially pro-consumer prioritization.

Most net neutrality activists view "pro-consumer prioritization" as an oxymoron, beyond the kind of network management that prioritizes internet phone service, for instance, or emergency communications.

INCOMPAS pointed to a survey it conducted that found 72% of voters oppose paid prioritization.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.