Look, we have had Internet access to residential customers priced at a market-building level for around 15 years now. Low, low prices especially for DSL access - sometimes as low as $15 a month. This has been great for the consumer.
Citation Needed I personally don't know anyone that can get broadband for 15 bucks a month. The cheapest plan I can find locally is 19.99 for 6 months and then 59.99 every month thereafter, and that 19.99 is closer to 30 bucks after the taxes are taken out....oh and some of those taxes are there to support infrastructure.
While we're on the subject of infrastructure and costs, don't forget that the federal government (that's yours and mine tax dollars) helped to fund and continues to fund the buildout of those networks through the Universal Service Fund.
Unfortunately for the consumer the market-building phase is ending. Just about everyone that can afford the $15 a month has the Internet now in their home and the are unlikely to give up easy access to free music, movies, heavily biased blogs and shopping at Amazon. But if the prices go up people are going to complain and perhaps set off a war between providers.
So the answer is to charge the heck out of the folks really making money on the Internet. Why would anyone complain about Google getting dinged instead of the guy living in a trailer with a 384K DSL connection? Oh, wait. That might affect access to those heavily biased blogs that consume 0.0001% of the bandwidth.
Communications infrastructure occupies a unique position in the market. It connects consumers to multiple third parties who are all individually paying for their own access to the communication network. Now don't get me wrong, I see what your point is, but its wrong. What you are suggesting is that as the phone company, not only should I be allowed to charge my customers for phone service, but I should also be able to charge any businesses they call because I facilitated that exchange EVEN THOUGH the business is paying for the phone line in. How about this, where do you draw the line? I host my own website, should all the ISPs in the world be able to bill me when their customers connect to my site? Personal sites don't make any money, okay what about if it links to my Etsy store?
Anymore, data service to your home or business is more of a utility than a service. The difference is that the utility provider thinks they deserve a cut of a third parties profits when one of their customers does business with them and I take serious issue with that. Bits are bits and don't cost any more to deliver to amazon than they do to deliver to grandmas blog.
Let's get real here. The issue is going to be a war between big bandwidth consumers. The structure of the Internet access in the US isn't going to allow for real, dedicated bandwidth over 300K to every home with an Internet connection. So when IPTV moves beyond the nerdy early-adopter stage there are going to be some major issues. It isn't going to be the cable provider vs. Netflix because the cable provider has dedicated bandwidth to the consumers. Netflix doesn't. Hulu doesn't. The bandwidth competition will be between Netflix and Hulu, for example. Amazon's video service vs. Apple vs. Google TV. Anybody out there trying to get bits to the consumer in large quantities.
The thing you are missing is that Netflix, Hulu, Google, et al already pay to put those bits on the network. They spend TONS of money each month to maintain their connectivity to the net. So you're saying in addition to that, they should pay a tariff to every ISP when one of the ISP's subscribers uses their service?
What happens when they don't pay?
It certainly isn't Google that suffers.
There is already competition between the big bandwidth consumers. Its not over the last mile connection to the actual customer of that bandwidth, its over connectivity to the net in general. The internet is and always has been run from the idea that the endpoints pay for the connection to the network and the large carriers use peering agreements (ie you can send x amount of bits to me and I will send x amount of bits to you and we basically trade bits between us since we are both making money off our customers) to pass data between them.
What you are trying to justify is the idea that the middleman (who makes money from their subscribers) should be allowed to charge third parties when their subscribers access them which is complete horseshit.
Bandwidth IS a commodity. You and I paid for a significant amount of that capacity with our tax dollars. We continue to do so.
The pipes are getting larger not smaller and for the most part capacity isn't really the issue here.
Net Neutrality is about ensuring that infrastructure that the public paid for in part is available for the benefit of the people that paid for it not just the people that built it.