Martin Geddes writes in his blog about the current debate over Net Neutrality, the concept that ISPs should or shouldn't be able to control the content on their networks. A lot of this discussion has been spurred by recent comments by AT&T's Ed Whitacre and others implying that network services providers should be able to charge content providers such as Yahoo for delivery of high-bandwidth services to the provider's customers.
Martin takes the point of view that creation of a multitiered Internet where lower cost, restricted services (such as only the ability to get to Yahoo services for example for a low monthly cost) aren't necessarily a bad thing. Vint Cerf took a different view in his testimony yesterday to the United States Congress
I know this is heresy in the Internet community, but I tend to agree with Martin. As long as there is sufficient choice in the market place (e.g. DSL, Cable, WiFi, or WiMax-based services) I don't see any problem in letting the various service providers implement their own business models thus letting the market decide the winners and losers.
The problem arises when you've got an area where there is no choice. Suppose Comcast cable modem service is the only thing I can get, and they choose to filter Vonage, Yahoo, or MSN services. Even in that case, the only regulation I can see being fair would be a requirement that the providers be required to offer an "open pipe" unrestricted service in addition to lower cost "walled garden" services.
Net Neutrality is a pretty hot topic right now, enterprises, as well as consumers who rely on the Internet ought to make sure they keep abreast of events as they happen, and they ought to make sure they let their representative know how they feel about these issues.