You may have seen the MoveOn petition for Congress to preserve network neutrality. The major broadband internet providers — Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T (SBC) — have been lobbying Congress for something. What have they been lobbying for? Abolish "network neutrality"? Write a law so they can do something legal that they already do?
There's a good chance you get your home broadband internet connection through a cable line (especially if your provider is Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, RCN, or Adelphia). You may also get cable TV through the same wire into your house. The cable TV is quite possibly digital. It is sent over the same wire into your home but frequency-decoded by your cable box. Comcast pushes regular internet bits through one frequency and special "cable TV" bits through another. Are the big evil companies asking for something different?
I think it's quite just for Comcast to sell two kinds of service on its network in this case. Are they, Verizon, and AT&T asking for a power they don't already have? What are their motives? What are the specific implications? The debate on "network neutrality" is woefully underinformed on any of these points.
I don't think any of these companies are trying to be nice. They are huge corporations that earn slimming margins providing a commodity service. I have no doubt that they would love to work out some deal with the government that guarantees them a comfy profit margin. But are they doing that here?
If you have any clue, let me know. This whole debate is utterly confusing.
[Thanks to my coworker Todd Underwood for giving me the digital cable TV example.]