I attended this workshop yesterday, and I got to listen to and converse with several of the panelists. The frustrating talk that I heard a lot from people on the panel was how, "well if this isn't profitable for the monopoly isps, then i guess we'll have to...
*give up freedom
so that they can remain profitable when they 'offer us internet service.'"
The representative from lucent went as far as to draw a chart that forebodingly portended an end to profit for the isps by 2014 or so, if we don't make severe cuts in speeds, raise prices, limit data, or do something like that.
But their whole entire thought pattern has this one huge blind spot. The Internet is not, and never was supposed to be just some kind of profit making service offered by cable and phone companies. The internet was making an end run AROUND such entities, and they have scrambled to regain their choke hold on our ability to send and receive information.
We should not be measuring the 'profit that the cable company makes' to determine if a level of service is worthwhile, but we should measure the profit to society as a whole, which is many orders of magnitude greater than what some cable company is making. We really can't go worrying about whether or not a cable company is making a profit when there is so much more benefit to making as fast a network as possible, and upgrading that network as often as possible, reaching the limits of inventors' imaginations, not the limits set by a marketing department in a monopoly "provider."
It evidently is not enough to just force these companies to be fair to all of us netizens. We are going to have to make a serious investment in R&D as well as deploying far more infrastructure, including fiber to every premise in the nation.
If investing in building out national information infrastructure hurts a cable company who wants to make lots of money from us, then too bad. We are all much more important than their bottom line. They should go the way of compuserve with their slow, inferior service, if they can't compete with the best network physically possible.