What Net Neutrality really is
A lot of people seem to be taking this phrase and using it on the wrong arguements about Internet access.
A 'Neutral' network is simply one that treats all data packets equally. A 'biased' network prioritises the packets based on the content or service being delivered.
This isn't as Orwellian as it seems. VoIP, Streaming media, and the like are flagged as 'time sensitive' in a biased network, meaning that they take precedence over things like web pages, p2p and ftp.
p2p in particular is one that causes problems because it can choke a network, drastically slowing every other connection (try web browsing when your housemate is p2p'ing half a dozen large video files). With a tiered system, High priority is on time sensitive packets, normal on http and ftp, and low on p2p.
The tiered system is not a bad idea, and is currently the only solution being discussed on how to deliver this content. The issue is on who pays for it. The telcos don't want to, and the content providers don't want to, and the customers (general public) don't want to.
Customers and Providers argue that they are just using the bandwidth they have paid for. Telcos say it was never meant to be used in this way. And both sides are right.
But the telco can't go and start charging premiums on the existing contracts for certain data types now. Hate to break it to them, but the telcos got the shaft on this one, and will just have to grin and bear it until renewal time comes around. And once it does, you can bet that there will be clauses relating to the data types that are being sent.
So what if the telcos laid down extra pipes for the high priority content, and then charged for the traffic on it? Kind of like an Internet Toll Road. Only certain traffic would be allowed on, it would cost more than using the existing Internet, but the traffic would be delivered on time.
What they can't do is mark a proportion of their existing networks as Toll Road Only, because that would reduce the bandwidth for the existing contracts, which they have to maintain.