But I’m not sure what to make of this principle.
In particular, I would not ask governments to start regulating the internet to achieve this goal. That’s a can of worms which will lead to more harm than good.
Instead, I would do nothing aside from educating customers and ISPs.
As long as ISPs compete with each other, and net neutrality is an important differentiator for customers, net neutrality is protected.
Maybe some ISPs will mistep, but that is minor in comparison with the risk of a government mistepping, because it is easier to switch ISP than changing laws and also laws are disproportionately influenced by big players.
@Julien: I suspect it’s partly because it costs a lot of money to plant infrastructure, but I’m not sure. The companies that are against net neutrality are the ones that own the “pipes”, which cost them a fortune to make, and a lot of time to deploy: in comparison, it’d be very hard for me to lay down e.g., an entire fiber-optic grid, or an array of cell towers, that mirrors AT&T or SBC or what have you.
Infrastructure cost surely contribute to the problem, but I can’t help but think there is more to it than that.
For one, many other expensive infrastructure projects get funded by the private sector (skyscrapers, oil rigs and pipelines, factories, etc.).
I don’t know the specifics, but I have seen a few mentions of historical distortions: the government gave telecom companies monopolies in many states, in the time of Bell and AT&T. I suspect we are seeing remnants of this intervention.