While the appearance of more network neutrality bills is encouraging, the fact is that no law, by itself, can really guarantee the protection of Internet bits.
The Bells got around the 1996 Telecomm Act, after all.
The problem lies in defining "the Internet" in legislation. Here is how Rep. Sensenbrenner tries to do it in his bill:
the term ‘broadband network service’ means a
2-way transmission service THAT CONNECTS TO THE
INTERNET and transmits information at an average rate of at least 200 kilobits per second in
at least one direction, irrespective of
whether such transmission is provided
separately or as a component of another service"
See the problem?
Right now the Bells and cable operators are hoarding their bits, refusing to sell them to you. They are not offering you the full might of their cables for Internet service. Instead they are walling off a small portion of that bandwidth, then defining the rest as "services" (voice services, data services) which you must pay extra for. In the case of BellSouth in Georgia, it’s about $60/month for a regular phone line, needed in order to get DSL Internet service. In the case of Comcast in Georgia, it’s about the same, the basic cable charge.
There is no way the law can prevent the duopolists from simply redefining ever-more of their networks as non-Internet, then up-selling (their words) sites these "private networks" interconnecting to customers.
Save one thing.
The goal of policy should not be to play "mother may I" with the duopoly.
The goal of policy must be to guarantee competition
The way to do that is to first open up spectrum, and then to understand that the Bells and cable operators stole monopoly rights for their personal profit.
You paid for the phone network, not them. You licensed the cable operators, and without your approval they would not, could not exist.
Thus, there must be wholesaling. Competitors must be allowed back into the facilities of the incumbents, and allowed to re-sell those facilities. That was the intent of the 1996 Act. That is the act which was violated wholesale, in exchange for promises that were not fulfilled.
To take back and use something that was stolen is not a violation of the "takings clause." It is economic, political, real justice.