Berners-Lee, the founder/creator of the world wide web has warned that
the efforts of some companies in the US to have legislation
changed—could curb net neutrality. This is the latest of many concerns
to be aired on the subject of net neutrality; infrastructure providers
who have invested heavily in creating an open and interconnected
infrastructure (which make up the internet as we know it) want to take a
share of revenues generated by companies who use it to deliver their
services—a Verizon executive recently said in a Washington Post report
that Google and other internet based businesses shouldn't expect to
enjoy a "free lunch" on its pipes! Service providers want to be able to
charge companies to receive a higher bandwidth allocation, therefore
meaning that the consumer can enjoy a higher quality of service from
them—they claim that without this source of revenue there is no
incentive for the service providers to perform expensive upgrades and
invest in new infrastructure. The other side of the argument is that
these companies already receive income from their broadband customers to
support this infrastructure—it's also argued that such quality of
service adjustments destroy both the neutrality of the internet and the
potential for new start-up internet firms who would not be able to
compete with the established giants if such a policy cam in to place.
This is a hot topic and one which will effect us all sooner or later!
Here's some more in-depth coverage.