Netflix streamer? File sharer? If Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam gets his way, you may soon start paying more for broadband.
At an investor's meeting on Monday, McAdam used his closing comments to clarify Verizon's position on net neutrality, or the rule that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all types of web traffic equally.
"I think it is only natural that the heavy users help contribute to the investment to keep the web healthy," McAdam said. Those "users" could be companies that use a lot of bandwidth -- like Netflix -- or even individual consumers -- like people who stream a lot of Netflix. Essentially, McAdam's saying that if you're using too much Internet, you should pay up.
Last month, a court struck down the Federal Communication's 2010 order that ISPs like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable abide by the principle of net neutrality. The ruling means websites may have to start paying ISPs to get their content to consumers. The flip side of that "toll road" is ISPs could also charge customers to see or heavily use some websites, Todd O’Boyle, program director of the liberal advocacy organization Common Cause, told The Huffington Post earlier this year.
"Some who stream a lot of movies and use data-intensive applications may pay a bit more," Verizon spokesman Edward S. McFadden told HuffPost when asked about McAdam's comment.
The Verizon CEO also said on the call Monday that he was pleased that Comcast and Netflix had struck a deal for Netflix to pay Comcast to deliver Netflix content more smoothly.
"We are pleased to see that Netflix and Comcast have an arrangement," McAdam said. "We will have to see what the details of that are, but we have had discussions with Netflix ourselves and feel that the commercial markets can come to agreement on these to make sure that the investments keep flowing."
None of these statements came as a surprise to anyone who's been watching Verizon. The ruling on net neutrality was prompted by Verizon v. FCC, a 2011 lawsuit where Verizon contested the FCC's right to impose net neutrality on broadband carriers. Many experts and consumers have expressed concern that thanks to the ruling, sites will now have to pay ISPs to get their content to customers. The ruling could also turn the web into a curated experience, the same way you pay more for premium channel packages when buying cable.
While Verizon may consider such investments "healthy," experts like Derek Turner, a freelance journalist and research director for the media advocacy group Free Press, think differently.
In January, Turner explained that faster delivery for some websites that can pay likely means slower delivery for sites with fewer financial resources. "The Internet is zero-sum," he said.