Now more and more people access the Internet not through telephone lines but larger pipes, almost all of them specially adapted telephone lines or high-capacity television cable. For many Americans, the question of who provides Internet service is no longer a choice of dozens of ISPs but at most two their cable company or their telephone company.
Today, some broadband executives would like to change the rules of the game. They say that in order to recoup development costs and to provide more levels and varieties of service for their customers, they want more control over those packets.
At stake for broadband providers is the chance to provide more differentiated levels of service. They also want to be able to charge users for particular levels of service as well as for the services they use, and charge some content providers for the bandwidth they fill. In short, broadband providers would prefer a business model that looks a whole lot more like cable TV service.