FCC Research Paper Undermines Net Neutrality Agenda

Published August 21, 2010

The Federal Communications Commission Broadband Performance OBI Technical Paper No. 4, issued in August, isolates facts about Internet use which have an important bearing on the net neutrality issue. Among these are:

1.    Data hogs account for about 1 percent of residential Web users but 25 percent of all online traffic.

2.    For 2009, the median Web surfer used about 2 gigabytes per month on home connections, but the mean average was 9 gigabytes.

3.    The extreme difference between average and median data usage is principally due to a relatively small number of users who consume very large amounts of data each month—sometimes terabytes per month,

4.    The most data-intensive 1 percent of residential consumers appear to account for roughly 25 percent of all traffic.

5.    The top 3 percent generate 40 percent of all traffic; the top 10 percent, 70 percent; and the top 20 percent generate 80 percent of all traffic.

6.    While half of all users consume less than 2 GB per month, the top 6 percent of users consume more than 15 GB each month

Contradicts FCC’s Proposal

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan promulgates the goal of creating availability of 4 Mbps actual download speeds across the country, stating ISPs typically deliver only half the speed they claim.

Additional findings include penetration:

1.    72 percent of U.S. households have Internet connections.

2.    The average Internet user has been online for 10 years and spends around an hour a day online.

3.    By comparison, the FCC notes the U.S. average TV viewing time is five hours a day.

All told, these statistics argue against the FCC’s attempts to regulate the Internet, says Deborah D. McAdams in a podcast interview with Infotech & Telecom News in which she draws from her Television Broadcast article, “FCC Report Supplies Fuel for Net Neutrality Opponents.”

McAdams, editor of Television Broadcast and senior editor of TV Technology, said, “The findings fly in the face of the commission’s support of network neutrality, the embattled notion that Internet service providers should not be allowed to [manage their own] traffic.”

Bruce Edward Walker ([email protected]) is managing editor of Info Tech & Telecom News.