In 1991, I was on the internet, directly, through UUCP. My ISP was a company based in my area that had bought a few T1 phone lines, and set up some modems that people like me could call into.
For the most part, I was driving on the information superhighway in my own car. A very American way of getting around.
When the telecommunications act of 1996 changed the rules about how much the phone companies could charge to ISPs, they rapidly all went out of business. See they were not allowed, by law, to unfairly charge anybody more money than they charged to their own subsidiaries. They whined and cried to congress and said that they couldn't innovate if they had to let all these little companies have fair prices. the result is now none of us are really ON the internet at all. we are on proprietary networks built by the phone and cable companies with our money, instead. they get to choose what equipment we have. they get to limit our speeds. they get to be in the driver's seat.
unfortunately this whole net neutrality debate has assumed that's the way it must always be now. we couldn't have end users actually DRIVING on the superhighway... gasp... goodness forbid!
Well I say that REAL net neutrality means that we all are REALLY on the internet.. which simply means we are all wired to each other, period... that means that we can directly communicate with each other, in any way we please, with any equipment we please... and make any new connections with the deployment of new wires, as we please...
we need to restore the ability, at all levels, to innovate, and create new network infrastructure, with must interconnect rules, once again. we have to take away the special privileges that the phone and cable companies have grabbed onto for themselves to such an extent that few can even imagine a world without them.