Last-mile ISPs are playing a game of "chicken" with the Internet, daring content providers to use their networks without paying a toll or suffer the consequences of poor service and connectivity to end users, according to a blog posted by Michael Mooney, general counsel-regulatory policy at Level 3 Communications (NYSE: LVLT).
While conceding that this is not new and that Level 3 has complained in the past, Mooney wrote that recent coverage of net neutrality and the impression that it might be "a solution looking for a problem" made the issue more relevant.
"The problem is the game of 'chicken' some last mile ISPs are playing with the Internet," he wrote.
The game begins, he said, when ISPs make those who need reliable network access pay a toll to cover the ISPs' increased costs for supplying more robust Internet content and the attendant costs of improving the network.
"This is not unreasonable on its face, but it is entirely inconsistent with published reports indicating that returns on invested capital for ISPs are excellent, and are expected to improve even further, driving considerable additional growth in economic profits," Mooney wrote.
Instead, he wrote, ISPs view tolls as "new sources of revenue for their last mile bottleneck monopolies or as a way to unfairly discriminate against content that competes with the content the ISPs themselves supply."
The current situation puts ISPs in the position of determining which content reaches the end consumer and in what condition, Mooney wrote. The blog posting, he said, was to reinforce a position that Level 3 has taken all along.
"We have advised the FCC on the issue on more than one occasion, beginning in 2013 and as recently as three weeks ago," he wrote.
Now he is taking his message to consumers.
"If you think that your Internet connection is slow just because lots of people are online at the moment, you could be wrong. You could be a victim of your ISP's game of chicken," he concluded.
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