The 800-pound gorillas are in secret meetings to provide premium 'go-faster' Internet service
Fast forward to today and it seems like something big might be about to happen. The FCC is pushing for the Internet to become a 'telecommunications service', a double-edged classification that brings both more regulation and security for the end-users. It's a tricky one: the FCC is in favor of net neutrality, but there's so much pressure from content providers and ISPs that it seems like we (or at least the USA) are about to pay a lot more for high-quality Internet access. The New York Times provides an excellent analogy: it will be like paying for premium cable or satellite TV channels. For just $9.99 per month you can have faster YouTube access! For $19.99 you can get YouTube, Vimeo and CollegeHumor!
This isn't, in essence, a bad thing. It's just a natural progression. The FCC has realised, rather wisely, that it's better to put some reins on the benevolent, capitalist beast before it turns on its rider. Today, Amazon or Comcast could simply ban an entire geographic (or demographic) zone from accessing its services. The FCC wants to make sure monetary concerns don't override the importance of a free (in every sense of the word) Internet.
The problem is: the FCC deliberations are taking an awful long time -- too long for antsy ISPs that want to get a bit more bang for their buck. There are only anonymous sources so far, but it seems like Google, in association with Verizon, might jump the gun and enact their own solution: tiered access to Google's services. Want 3G or 4G access to YouTube on your Android phone? It'll cost you a bit extra.
'Freemium' Internet here we come: fed up with poor-quality and constantly-dropping video calls? Pay for prioritized bandwidth! You want peer-to-peer access with other Internet users? That'll cost you too!
I can hardly wait...
Update: Google has stated that they're not in talks with Verizon. So... who knows what's going on...