Skip to main content

WVU expert: End of net neutrality would give ISPs power over online content, speed


WVU experts on net neutrality Elizabeth Cohen, Joshua Fershee and Brian Woerner

Download full-size

As the Federal Communications Commission prepares to vote on ending Internet neutrality, Internet service providers will become gatekeepers with the power to block or slow online content—or to offer preferred services to certain websites, according to a West Virginia University expert. ISPs may not take advantage of their new-found power quickly, but the development of tiered Internet plans, meaning websites would have to pay more for better service, could be on the horizon, she said.

Elizabeth Cohen
Assistant Professor Communication Studies
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

“Opponents of net neutrality argue that permitting ISPs to prioritize bandwidth will encourage large telecommunications companies to make more investments in Internet infrastructure, because they can make more money. But even if this is true, I am concerned that this will come at the cost of fair and healthy competition and innovation among tech companies. Heavy hitters like Google and Netflix will probably fair relatively okay without net neutrality, but smaller companies and start-ups won't have an equal playing field to compete and get in the game anymore." 

Elizabeth Cohen audio file (1:05)

CONTACT:; 678.768.7765 


Joshua P. Fershee
Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development and Professor of Law
WVU College of Law

“The net neutrality debate is really a question about how to make sure that broadband Internet service providers deliver consumers access to services at a fair price in a way that maximizes innovation and improves competition. The current FCC proposed rule sides with the broadband companies’ desire to reduce regulations and instead would require only transparency about the Internet provider’s practices. This change would not eliminate all oversight because antitrust law protections will remain available if competition is unfairly limited and consumers are harmed, though advocates are split on the effectiveness of these protections, as well.” 

Joshua Fershee audio file (:56)

CONTACT:; 304.293.2868


Brian Woerner
Professor and Department Chair Lane Department of Computer Science & Electrical Engineering
Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

"In the short run, the FCC decision on net neutrality pits Internet service providers (such as Comcast and Verizon) versus content providers (such as Netflix and Google).  In the long run, the FCC's net neutrality policy is viewed as a precedent for how aggressively the agency will choose to regulate the Internet, which is why it provokes such strong views."

Brian Woerner audio file (1:41) 

CONTACT: brian.woerner@mail.wvu.edu304.293.9141 

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVU Today.



Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.