If I am an ISP, I have to pay some money to my upstream network provider in order to transfer data in and out at a certain speed for a certain ammount of data. This is reflected on the user by speed and data capping.

However, when two of my users want to communicate, they probably barely even touch my servers and it generally does not cost me anything to let someone, say, access a website their neighbours host from the same ISP.

As such, if I decide not to throttle or cap the network unless I have to, where it costs me more money, would I be in violation of Title II net neutrality? In order to stay compliant, will I have to start charging my customers for a service that is basically free to me, and actually takes more effort to regulate? And what happens when, say, netflix tries to buy a connection from me? Will I be compliant as long as I don't discriminate against who I give a connection to?

  • Related: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/26289
    – bytebuster
    Nov 23, 2017 at 11:06
  • In context: me and some friends once tried to find a route through our ISP's CGN to share our media collections, and found that impossible to do
    – Aditya Goturu
    Nov 23, 2017 at 11:19
  • What is it on the Wikipedia page that is unclear? I quote: "Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments regulating most of the Internet must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication". So it is rather the opposite: you must NOT throttle anyone for any reason except for the subscription they have with you. If they buy 100 Mbit/s, that is what they get.
    – MichaelK
    Nov 23, 2017 at 11:59
  • 1
    @MichaelKarnerfors if they buy, say, a 40mbit plan, they will have 100mbit infrastructure (for example). Now, when two users situated physically close to each other host stuff from their home, they can usually communicate directly, and it will not stress my infrastructure or even go through my servers. Therefore to limit those communications to 40mbit will require me to actively throttle internal network communications. This is in opposition to when its leaving my ISP, where it goes through the limited queue on my servers and so will get throttled.
    – user14479
    Nov 23, 2017 at 14:48
  • @MichaelKarnerfors another way of phrasing this would be, would I, as an ISP, be allowed to have a "minumum speed plan", where the plan says X speed, but if due to technical reasons certain sites or services can have a higher speed, I give it to them at no extra charge? Basically whatever the infrastructure allows?
    – user14479
    Nov 23, 2017 at 14:54

1 Answer 1


Title II is itself completely silent on the matter. The FCC has alleged that it may classify ISPs as "common carriers", and that having done that, under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 allows them to restrict the operations of ISPs (because the commission can "establish and provide facilities and regulations for operating such through routes"). On April 13 2015, the FCC announced a final rule which modified parts of Title 47 of CFR, most centrally 47 CFR Part 8. Section 8.7 states that

A person engaged in the provision of broadband Internet access service, insofar as such person is so engaged, shall not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service, or use of a non-harmful device, subject to reasonable network management.

By that rule, it would be illegal to slow down data traffic between nodes that are physically closer, so as to achieve uniform data transfer rates across the network. Differences in actual transfer rates are naturally possible given the physical structure of the network and are lawful; the regulation prohibits active impairment, when it is on the basis of content, application, or service.

  • Physical distance isn't a matter of "content, application or service"; it seems it would be lawful to limit the user's bandwidth based on how much they pay. (Unless you are using physical distance as an excuse) Nov 23, 2017 at 22:20
  • Ok I can safely provide higher speeds than promised as long as I am not actively doing it (like by tying up with netflix so people on the 10mbit plan can only practically use netflix)
    – user14479
    Nov 24, 2017 at 15:20

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