When ‘Just’ is Just Not Enough: Why Consumers Do Not Appreciate Non-Neutral Internet Access Services
31 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2012 Last revised: 19 Jul 2017
Date Written: May 23, 2015
Although Internet service providers (ISPs) are technically capable as well as legally allowed to offer non-neutral Internet access services, where the data flows of those customers that pay a premium are prioritized over others, such an access service is currently not offered by ISPs. We argue that ISPs are hesitant to tap the price discrimination potential of prioritized Internet access services, because in the context of the ongoing public debate on net neutrality (NN), such differentiation would be considered as unjust by their customers. In a representative survey among German Internet access customers we find that the customers’ perceptions of justice as well as the framing of the mechanism by which prioritized Internet access is provided are indeed decisive for whether customers’ would prefer this access regime over NN. In particular we find that perceptions of distributive and procedural justice drive customers’ choice for non-neutral Internet access. Moreover, customers are more likely to accept a regime that offers an absolute rather than a relative prioritization of data flows.
Keywords: Internet access service, Net neutrality, Quality of service, Congestion, Pricing, Justice, Fairness, TPRC
JEL Classification: L50, L96
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation