Survey: The More Americans Understand Issue, The More They Support Net Neutrality

Controversy continues to swirl over the recent FCC decision to allow Internet service providers greater control over the Internet “pipe,” setting up a marketplace that might come to resemble traditional pay-TV services.

In the just-released GfK survey, roughly half (55%) of all US consumers report that they understand the issue of net neutrality – regardless of whether they are following the neutrality debate closely. Among those who say they do understand net neutrality, 72% favor it – 8 points higher than the figure (64%) among those who feel they do not understand the issue.

Men are much more likely than women – 61% versus 48% – to report that they understand neutrality; and they are twice as likely (34% versus 17%) to be following neutrality developments in the news and elsewhere. But among those who say they understand neutrality, more women favor it than men (77% versus 68%).

From a political perspective, eight in ten (82%) Democrats who understand net neutrality are in favor of it, as well as 70% of Independents and those in other parties. A majority (56%) of Republican understanders also express support for maintaining net neutrality.

Respondents in the western US posted relatively low levels of support for neutrality. Two-thirds (67%) of those in the West who say they understand neutrality are in favor of it, compared to 76% in the Northeast and Midwest.

Among different age groups, a remarkable two-thirds (66%) of 15 to 24 year olds – whom GfK has dubbed the Now Generation – report understanding net neutrality; that stands out from the older groups – 20 percentage points higher than the 65-plus group, and also above the more established Millennials segment (25 to 34 years old), which came in at 57%.

“Our study shows that a clearer understanding of what is at stake tends to make consumers value neutrality more,” said Tom Neri, EVP and Head of Technology and Financial Services Industries Accounts for GfK. “This suggests that education about even the basics of the issue may be the best weapon for those who would seek to reverse the FCC action. We also see the 15-to-24 age group setting itself apart once again, recording the highest level of neutrality understanding of any generation measured. Clearly, younger consumers know that a lot is at stake for them in this debate.”