Re: I've always wondered...
Paid prioritization is a non sense. I can understand prioritization of traffic based on type of service, i.e. emergency/security services having highest priority, probably some priority for VoIP traffic and after that some live streaming.
Ah, well, what is an 'emergency' or 'security' service?
So it all began with RFC791, a very important RFC. So the 2nd byte of an IP packet would be for Type of Service, or ToS. That was in 1981. Being the Internet, that simple definition got embuggered by subsequent RFCs, and morphed into 'Diffserv'. After a few iterations, that kinda stabilised in RFC3168, which added 'Explicit Congestion Notification' bits. And lo, it came to pass that IPv4 faded into obscurity, and this all got rolled into IPv6 and it's 8-bit 'Traffic Class'. With another 2 bits tacked on for ECN.
So that's the technical background, and the battlefield for 'Net Neutrality. Nearly 40 years later, and after probably hundreds of millions in lobbying, those handy features remain forbidden on the public Internet. All packets shall be equal, and all packets shall be best efforts!
Ok, so this stuff is used on private IP networks, where 32 classes of DSCP might be considered a sales feature, but they're gonna get mapped onto 3 bits of an MPLS lable in all probability. Or into a layer-2 equivalent, which will probably end up over a form of MPLS anyway.
So I was involved in developing wholesale broadband for a small country. That has 128Kbps prioritised, with the intention that it gets used for VoIP. It's 'Neutral', because every customer gets the same config, and every wholesale customer is free to use it or abuse it.. But all done with the regulator's blessing, because being able to make a call was considered A Good Thing! Under a strict interpretation of the US policy, it could be forbidden. So good luck making an emergency call. So this was a pro-consumer implementation, even though it broke 'Net Neutrality..
So then comes the consumer. It would generally be A Good Thing if you can make an emergency call, or just a plain'ol VoIP call.. So prioritise say, 128Kbps for that. Then it might be nice to have reliable video streaming, so prioritise say, 8Mbps for video.
If you're an ISP, that could be A Good Thing. Customers happy because services work, and your pron isn't interrupted by someone downloading a big file. It's a better thing if it's kept away from marketing, and a standard traffic profile is applied to all users. Mainly because having multiple profiles is generally a right PITA and a good way to kill routers..
So suppose your an ISP that also offers a video service, like say, BT in the UK. They'll bill mugs.. I mean users for their IPTV service. Slapping that into the 8Mbps allocated for video could mean fewer support calls regarding pixellated balls. And if other video services want to use that capacity, mark the packets and the network will prioritise them.
But that's where the polarised nature of the 'Net Neutrality debate comes in. User side, it's simple, everyone gets 8Mbps prioritised. If however you're a content provider who's business is predominantly video streaming, like say, Netflix.. Then pretty much all your traffic would be priority. So Nx100Gbps of VIP traffic, which customers are paying $10 a month to Netflix for. ISP's don't get any of that money, but have to carry the traffic, so the assumption is if prioritisation is permitted, then content providers will be charged a premium for that prioritised traffic.
Currently content providers are strongly opposed to that possibility, hence why they've spent millions lobbying to keep the 'Net as a best efforts network.