Most Believe Consumers Should Be Able to Access Content on The Internet

Nine in Ten Americans Believe That Consumers Should Be Able to Freely and Quickly Access Their Preferred Content on The Internet. For Another Three Quarters, Equal Access to the Internet is Seen to be a Right

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  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, May 7, 2018 — Advocacy for net neutrality in the United States remains strong, with 76% of Americans saying they support the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) providing consumers connection to the Internet should treat all data on the internet the same, not giving specific advantages or penalties in access by user, content, website, platform, or application - versus just under a quarter (24%) who oppose this concept. Those most likely to proclaim their support for net neutrality include older respondents (80% of adults ages 55+ vs. 69% of adults ages 18-34) and those with a college degree (81% vs. 72%, no college degree).

According to the recent online survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of The Mozilla Foundation, which features a national survey in addition to interviewing separate samples across six U.S. states, similar proportions further agree that equal access to the internet is a right (78%), including nearly half (46%) who strongly agree with this statement. When asked which statement they agree with more, and overwhelming majority further believe that consumers should be able to freely and quickly access their preferred content on the internet (91%) versus only 9% who instead think ISPs should be able to offer fast lanes with quicker load times to websites that pay a premium.

  • The proportion of adults who support net neutrality based on what they know/have heard remains on par with results from the 2017 Net Neutrality survey (76%, 2017 and 2018), though this year a greater concentration of adults say they strongly support this notion (35% in 2018 vs. 30% in 2017).
  • Those most likely to agree that equal access to the internet is a right include adults under the age of 35 (84% vs. 76% of adults ages 35+), Democrats (85% vs. 72% of Republicans and 77% of Independents), and residents of Colorado (79%), Arizona (81%), and North Carolina (80% vs. 72% of Iowa residents). Compared to last year, agreement with this statement increases slightly from 77% in 2017 to 78% in 2018.
  • A greater shift can be seen when it comes to the belief that consumers should be able to freely and quickly access their preferred content on the internet, up 5 percentage points this wave (91% in 2018 vs. 86% in 2017).

Most Americans (63%) do not think that internet service providers will voluntarily look out for consumers’ best interests, compared to 32% who agree with this statement. Opinions are split when it comes to trusting internet service providers to protect access to the internet, with just over two in five (42%) saying they trust ISPs completely/mostly to protect their access to the internet versus 54% who only trust ISPs a little bit/do not trust them at all. However, Americans place more trust in ISPs to protect their access to the internet than they do internet companies (34%), the Federal Communications Commission (30%), the Trump Administration (25%), and Congress (17%).

  • Trusting internet service providers to voluntarily look out for consumers’ best interest drops 5 percentage points this year, down from 37% in 2017.
  • Residents of Nevada (35%) and Arizona (35%) are among those most likely to believe that internet service providers will voluntarily looks out for consumers’ best interests. Trusting internet service providers to protect access to internet is also more prevalent in Nevada (40%), especially when compared to those in Minnesota (32%) and Iowa (31%) who say the same thing.

Americans generally believe net neutrality is a good thing for a variety of different groups, including roughly two thirds who say it is beneficial for people like themselves (67% good thing vs. 12% bad thing, 20% makes no difference), small businesses (66% good thing vs. 16% bad thing, 18% makes no difference), and innovators (63% good thing vs. 13% bad thing, 24% makes no difference). Most also think net neutrality is a good thing for big businesses (50% vs. 19% bad thing, 30% makes no difference), while just under half say the same thing about its effects on internet service providers (49% vs. 24% bad thing, 28% makes no difference).

  • While residents of Colorado stand out when it comes to seeing net neutrality as being a good thing for small businesses (71%) and innovators (67%, along with 66% of residents from Minnesota), no significant differences emerge across states when it comes to seeing net neutrality as being a good thing for big business, ISPs, and the general public.

Government Regulation of Internet Access

Thinking about the role of the federal government in regulating access to the Internet, respondents are most likely to believe that government should establish reasonable rules prohibiting ISPs from controlling how consumers access the internet (37%), though nearly three in ten believe instead that government should not establish rules in advance, but monitor the marketplace and take action only if consumers are harmed (29%). Not quite one in ten (8%) believe that government should be more involved, setting specific prices, terms, and conditions for internet access, while a similar proportion believe the opposite – that government should only encourage voluntary enforcement of best practices by the ISPs (8%). Nearly one in five, however, are not sure/have no opinion when it comes what the role of the federal government should be when it comes to regulating access to the internet (17%).

  • While Republicans stand out as being especially likely to believe the government should set specific prices, terms, and conditions for internet access (11% vs. 5% of Democrats), Democrats are significantly more likely to think the government should establish reasonable rules prohibiting ISPs from controlling how consumers access the internet (45% vs. 32% of Republicans).

When told that In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to end net neutrality rules which prevent internet service providers (e.g., AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc.) from blocking content, slowing down content, or charging people to access specific websites or other applications, most Americans report opposing this FCC decision (52%), compared to only 35% who support it. Another one in ten (13%) say they don’t know. Democrats (62%) and Independents (54%) tend to be more likely to oppose the FCC decision to end net neutrality rules (versus 44% of Republicans), while the opposite is true for Republicans, where 45% are in favor of this decision (versus 29% Democrats).

About the Study

These are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted February 16 -  23, 2018 on behalf of The Mozilla Foundation. For the survey, a sample of 1,007 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English, in addition to boost samples of roughly 500 adults living in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa, and North Carolina. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ±3.5 percentage points for all respondents surveyed, and ±5.0 percentage points for each of the state boosts.

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity and income.

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ± 2.0 percentage points for all respondents (see link below for more info on Ipsos online polling “Credibility Intervals”). Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,007, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=5.0 and n=500, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=6.5).

For more information about conducting research intended for public release or Ipsos’ online polling methodology, please visit our Public Opinion Polling and Communication page where you can download our brochure, see our public release protocol, or contact us.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
Chris Jackson
Vice President, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
chris.jackson@ipsos.com

Marie-Pierre Lemay
Senior Account Manager, U.S.
Ipsos Public Affairs
+1 613 793-1622
marie.lemay@ipsos.com

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The author(s)

  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs

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