Net neutrality is one of those inside-the-beltway issues that resonates pretty darned well outside the beltway. And here’s proof: By the FCC‘s Friday comment deadline in its net-neutrality proceeding, nearly 9,500 separate comments were sitting in the Commission’s electronic system (it didn’t hurt that net neutrality proponent SaveTheInternet.com put an automatic submission form on its Web site). Included are hoards of short statements by individual consumers similar to this one from Byron Gehman of Round Rock, TX: "Opposing network neutrality does nothing except to line the pockets of greedy corporations wanting to extort money from popular sites." You get the idea. Of course, not all consumer commenters were pro-regulation. "These are price controls on the Internet, and they will mean less innovation, and less investment in the infrastructure critical for the deployment of broadband to all Americans," stated Jibby (no last name) of Post Falls, ID.

Meanwhile, cable industry commenters (fewer in number but greater in legalistic verbage) reiterated their view that net-neutrality rules are unnecessary and ultimately harmful. "Not only have proponents of increased regulation failed to identify any market failures, but prescriptive mandates are particularly ill-suited to the dynamic broadband marketplace," wrote Time Warner Cable. NCTA, meanwhile, said net neutrality is "the classic ‘solution in search of a problem.’ Its proponents cannot even agree on what it is or why it is needed" while making arguments of "pure conjecture… untethered from any facts." The Progress & Freedom Foundation warned that "the danger is that we will adopt a net neutrality regime that inhibits investment in broadband, deters entry by new competitors, and limits the content available." NBCU, meanwhile, urged the FCC to crack down on Internet piracy—an issue it said gets lost in the net neutrality debate.

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