For decades, the AT&T monopoly was regulated with an ideal that could aptly be described as "phone neutrality." In the name of social justice, phone service was ruled with the notion that everyone must have the same service at roughly the same price.
ehe system placed heavy taxes on urban areas to pull wires to rural areas.
The great beneficiary of phone neutrality was the monopoly which used the ideal to cap demands for better services, and provided a mechanism to keep long distance prices high.
In hindsight, we see the era of phone neutrality led to technological stagnation.
Notably, farms and rural communities would have been better served by development of wireless technology. Unlike urban areas, rural areas have ample bandwidth for the community's communication needs.
The cost of phone neutrality wasn't just stagnate service. The ideal led to unnecessary environmental damage. The phone company disrupted ecosystems to string wires. They cut down numerous trees and did damage mining copper for the wires, and released chemicals into the environment to encase the wires in plastic.
For that matter, if we had a free market, we would have seen the emergence of cellular phones and complex networks sooner than we did in a regulatory climate ruled by the dictates of phone neutrality.
Quite frankly, the mass media internet would not have existed if not for the breaking up of AT&T and elimination of the ideal of phone neutrality.
From a historical perspective it is odd that Congress is even considering shoving a new ideal of internet neutrality down our collective gullets. The only need that the power grab seems to be fulfilling is never-ending need of the political elite for more power.
Just as phone neutrality was a bad idea that created artificially high prices and stagnated development, net neutrality is likely to set the internet in a negative direction.