The internet is the greatest advance in communications since the printing press was developed. You're reading this blog on a medium which didn't exist twenty years ago and can be accessed from anywhere on earth. Who really controls the internet and does anyone actually own it?.....

No single entity owns the Internet, although Google, Verizon and AT&T would like to. Former Vice President Al Gore took the credit for inventing the internet, which he didn't of course. Al apparently got a little carried away in awarding himself kudos in a speech he made in 1999.

Having a neutral internet is an issue no one could have predicted a decade ago. Unrestricted and uncensored access to other internet sites lies at the heart of net neutrality. Neutrality means internet providers can't slow down, or speed up internet traffic for specific users or domains.

Net neutrality encourages creative expression. This blog has the exact same opportunity to be read on line as the President's latest policy announcement. I'm sure more people read his speech though - or maybe not.

Net Neutrality is really a poor choice of a name. The internet's world wide web is really anything but neutral, or democratic. Try accessing The Playboy web site from Riyadh or Google the word 'Democracy' from a site in China and you get to find out what a .404 error is. Repressive regimes don't like the internet and they learned quickly how to control it.

The US internet and telecom giants Verizon and Google have reportedly reached an agreement to impose a tiered system for accessing the internet, initially only applying to wireless broadband users. This deal would enable Verizon to charge for quicker access to online content over wireless devices. Google of course would speed up access to preferred clients and slow down access to others.

This is a violation of the concept of net neutrality that calls for equal access, at an equal speed, to all services and by all users. At its simplest, network neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally.

Consider the internet as a bricks and mortar motorway. My 1971 VW Bug (bright red) cruising down the interstate, has the same rights and privileges as the Mercedes who has been tailgating me since Baltimore. Whether you're a king or a pauper, we're all equal on the electronic highway.

If ISPs (Internet Service Providers) get their way, accessing my hotmail email could be at a snail's pace, while retrieving my yahoo mail would be superfast. Is this fair? I only have access to one internet provider and this opens up a real potential for abuse.

Internet service could be just like the crooked card game. Everyone knows it's crooked but it's the only game in town. Voting with your wallet is difficult when there are no alternatives or competition.

Internet traffic all travels at the same speed. My facebook page (if I had one) can be accessed at the same speed as CNN's latest news feed. This is the core of net neutrality. Internet speed refers to the 'backbone' of the internet and can vary with each individual user.

If you live in the Appalachians and you have a five mile copper wire hooked up to the nearest cable access hub, it will be slower of course. This is the 'last mile' of the internet infrastructure and is controlled by your local telecom broadband provider. Not much we can do about that, except move closer to the telephone pole. Broadband providers control our access to the internet and can filter this to only include preferred client sites, or even to exclude the competition. Cable companies who own the access point to the internet plan on charging a toll fee to access the main highway at a given, pre-paid speed with limitations on what I can access.

I already pay for internet access. I don't need my internet provider speeding me up to a host of preferred sites, while slowing down my access to others. Nor do I want to pay to have my search engine filtered or censored.

'Pay to Play' I suppose is the theme. Corporations can pay some of our internet giants a fee to allow fast access to their sites, while smaller companies who do not pay, have their users crawl to their sites. This seems a little unfair.

Creating a tiered level system of internet access where users pay for a specific bandwidth and an ability to access premium sites has been proposed by the ISP corporations. Thanks to the President Bush administration's choice of FCC (Federal Communications Committee) these companies are essentially self regulating.

We've all seen how self regulation worked with BP and the Gulf. When corporations essentially write their own regulations regarding a public utility or service, consumers are the ones who get gouged.

Internet access should remain as it is, neutral or at least impartial.

Across the Pond The author can be reached at a neutral speed at