Citing more than 19,000 consumer e-mails that the FCC has recently received, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler confirmed last Friday that the agency will examine paid peering and similar interconnection agreements between network operators and web content providers and the impact of such arrangements on the speed and quality of consumer Internet services. The probe comes in the wake of recent agreements that Netflix struck with Internet service providers, such as Verizon Communications, for the purpose of improving online streaming speeds for Netflix users that also subscribe to broadband network services provided by those companies. Although Wheeler has stipulated that the issue of paid peering arrangements between content companies and broadband providers is separate and distinct from net neutrality, the FCC has received numerous consumer complaints about paid peering and their impact on web service speed and quality within the context of the agency’s latest rulemaking notice on net neutrality. Among the thousands of e-mail comments filed at the FCC, Wheeler related one in particular that questioned, “Is Verizon abusing net neutrality and causing Netflix picture quality to be degraded by ‘throttling’ transmission speeds? Who is at fault here? The consumer is the one suffering! What can you do?” Arguing that the aforementioned message “gets to the heart of the matter,” Wheeler charged that “consumers pay their ISP and they pay content providers like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon,” but “when they don’t get good service, they wonder what is going on.” Wheeler also observed that, “the bottom line is that consumers need to understand what is occurring when the Internet service they’ve paid for does not adequately deliver the content they desire.” A variety of stakeholders joined members of Congress in voicing support for the FCC inquiry. Welcoming Wheeler’s “attention to these important issues in the Internet ecosystem,” Comcast Vice President Sena Fitzmaurice proclaimed that “Internet traffic exchange on the backbone is part of ensuring that bits flow freely and efficiently, and all actors across the system have a shared responsibility to preserve the smooth functioning [of the] highly competitive backbone interconnection market.” As Netflix applauded  “the FCC’s efforts to bring more transparency to this area,” House Communications subcommittee ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) remarked, “in the midst of the net neutrality debate, it is reassuring that the Commission recognizes that net neutrality is only one aspect of the Internet ecosystem, and that in order to ensure openness and competition, the connection between broadband and content providers is equally important.”