For Every Public Purpose, There is a Corresponding Private Interest

Who pays for Internet accessConsumers and businesses. 

But advertisers or sponsors might pay on behalf of users of their services. Internet service providers might sponsor use of some applications. 

In some cases, application providers pay, on behalf of their customers. 

But mostly, it is end users who pay all the costs.

And though it is true that there are genuine policy issues surrounding a seemingly-endless list of "network neutrality" instances, there also are important commercial interests.

For access providers, the issue is whether apps that impose disproportionate network costs should help defray the direct costs they impose. 

For application providers, the issue is avoiding such costs, as they would directly affect app provider business models. 

And as the Internet has fragmented, there now are different kinds of Internet domains. The sort people generally are familiar with are Internet service providers who provide mobile or fixed network access. Those "eyeball" networks aggregate end users. 

Content domains are different, especially domains that supply video entertainment or video content. Such domains represent the majority of all demand on access networks. 

To the extent that ISP eyeball networks have to supply additional capacity to support such apps, the costs now are borne exclusively by end users, in the form of higher access fees. 

The issue is whether dual revenue streams will develop that resemble the way much print, TV and audio content is subsidized by advertisers. 

That notion is contentious as a matter of public policy. But the differences also reflect very real business models, and revenue and cost winners and losers in the internet ecosystem. 

As always is the case, for every public purpose there is a corresponding private interest. Proponents never directly say so. But it always is there. 


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