I agree with part of what Doc says about the net neutrality debate:
First, the Net is a vast set of connections on which countless services can be deployed. Telephony and television are just two. Because telephone and cable companies offer Internet connections as a secondary "service" on top of their primary businesses, we tend to think of the Net in the same terms. This is a mistake. The Internet will in the long run become a base-level utility, and we will come to regard telephony and television as two among many categories of data supported by that utility.
That much is probably true - people are starting to view a net connection the same way they view telephones: an essential service. However, there's a problem with the next bit:
Second, the end-to-end nature of the Net puts everybody on it in a position to both produce and consume. It is not just about consumption. It is at least as much about production. In the U.S., telephone and cable companies have deployed Net services in asymmetrical and crippled forms from the beginning. While this crippling is easily rationalized (typical usage is asymmetrical, and turning off outbound mail and web service ports discourages spamming), it also serves to discourage countless small and home businesses. Worse, "business-grade service" (symmetrical with no port blockages) is so expensive in most cases that it is essentially prohibited.
Potentially, anyone can be a producer. In practice, very, very few people actually are. Look at the stats on monster sites like Digg - while anyone can vote a story up, there's a fairly small population of regular users who are, for all intents and purposes, editors. The same dynamic holds with every forum, electronic or otherwise. In any community, the number of people involved drops dramatically as you go from "people who pay some level of attention to it" to "active participants".
While it's true that we don't have a lot of competition in the ISP space, we also don't have a lot of demand for upstream connectivity. Most people just download stuff, and that dynamic simply isn't going to change. The blogosphere has given megaphones to a lot of people who didn't have them before, but those people are the ones who would have found some way to be involved anyway. If we had actual demand for symmetric services, I do think you would see it. We simply don't, and I don't really expect that to change much.
news, net neutrality