NYT On Net Neutrality
One of the Internet's great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft's home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access, and slower to navigate.
Another issue aside from the "extortion problem" is that the Telcos want to sell their own rich-media services, and using the massively developed and adopted infrastructure known as "internet" makes that really easy. Except it only works (at a profit) if they're allowed to make their service some kind of special gated community, which means breaking network neutrality.
The new telco conglomorates and cable services see a future where you're "data services" include HDTV on-demand, traditional "internet", and e-commerce all through some AOL or Prodigy-like vertical silo. Which would be suxxomatic.