Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

When 'just' is just not enough: Why consumers do not appreciate pay-for-priority internet access services.

Krämer, Jan
Volume: 57
Number: 5
Pages: 325 - 338
Month: October
ISSN-Print: 1610-241X
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2015
Keywords: Internet access service; Net neutrality; Quality of service; Congestion; Pricing; Justice; Fairness

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 customers who 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), their customers would consider such differentiation unjust. 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 influence 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.