Network Neutrality: who benefits on either side?

There's a lot of rhetoric, idealism, and outright lies about why we need or don't need network neutrality. The political right tends to frame killing neutrality as "freeing the internet from the shackles of regulation" while the left characterizes enforcing neutrality as protecting consumers and leveling the playing field.

Let's leave all that aside and just look at who the winners and losers are in each scenario.

In order to do that, first we have to know what exactly Network Neutrality is supposed to do. There's a lot of misunderstanding around that, too.

Network neutrality does not:

Network neutrality does:

So who benefits from either scenario? In any given internet activity there are four major parties:

The breakdown of who benefits when is pretty straightforward:

Neutral Net:   Non-Neutral Net:
  • The user
  • The service
  • The user's ISP
  • The service's ISP

There you have it. The breakdown of who wins in a neutral versus non-neutral net. If you're an ISP, you hate net neutrality. If you're a content/application/service provider, you love it.