Time was, back in the bad old days of regulatory oversight, the feds told telephone companies that they had to extend service to residents outside prime socioeconomic territories. The FCC laid down the law that the local telcos with a regional monopoly on wire and fiber had to share access to that infrastructure with competing ISPs, and to make that happen, telcos were ordered to split their Internet and telephone service branches into separate business units.
Telcos complained loudly about cable TV providers offering VoIP phone service not subject to telco regulations, while at the same time flouting the very regulations they seek to impose on cable companies in the interest of fairness. Cable is hardly squeaky clean, with infamously poor customer service, wavering quality of coverage, prerequisites for cable TV plans, and leased equipment that adds $50 or more to the low monthly prices quoted in their ads.
Just as the FCC has cleared the way for use of narrow bands of analog TV spectrum for Internet traffic, DSL and cable are exacting payback in a manner that should be setting off bells (no pun) in Washington. We know about the tiered Internet, where commercial customers without top-end bundled services have their traffic shoved aside for use by elite subscribers, and for services sold by the carriers themselves. We read less about other threats that attract minimal attention from IT because they seem to affect only residential broadband users, and more specifically, that fraction of residential users that spoils the Internet for everybody with their peer-to-peer file sharing. Nobody can feel sorry for pirates who are getting their pegs clipped.
[ InfoWorld's Ephraim Schwartz tracks bandwidth killers. | Troubling signs of bandwidth shortage are looming, and Tom Kaneshige and Galen Gruman consider the implications in "Is our Internet future in danger?" ]
Changes being made under the rubric of fighting excessive use of bandwidth by that mythical 5 percent of broadband subscribers that use 90 percent of available bandwidth have nothing to do with freeing those ill-used bits for legitimate use. It's hard to get telcos and cable operators to explain why transfer caps, speed throttling, content filtering, and port blocking, necessary measures to avoid being bankrupted by 5 percent of 'net ne'er-do-wells, apply to all Internet subscribers. Unless, that is, you're paid in full for your provider's most expensive data offerings, or you happen to be a telecommunications provider.