I am a broadband internet provider. I have millions of customers who pay me because I provide a better service than my competitors (or I am the only service available in a customer's area). My job is to provide the means for unidentified “packets” of information to flow from the internet to my customers and back again.
A separate company begins to provide a service that allows customers to make and receive voice calls. Some of their customers use my broadband network, and those customers are very happy.
I decide to get in on the act, and setup my own service that allows customers to make and receive voice calls. I cannot afford to undercut the rival company, but I can offer a slight discount to my existing broadband customers.
In order to provide a better service for my customers, I begin examining the previously unidentified packets of information to see which of them are carrying voice data for the rival company. To make sure my voice customers get a better service, I start to favor the packets of my own voice network by throttling the packets of my rival. The result is that many of my broadband customers switch to using my voice service, instead of the service operated by my rival.
I feel good about what I have done, because I have given my customers a better service, and I've managed to make extra money from doing so. Everyone is a winner!
Right now, this is a hypothetical situation; however, thanks to the “Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act” working its way through the United States government, this will soon be a reality. And it's shameful. Despite the efforts of scores of businesses, organizations, and individuals, it looks like network neutrality will soon be a thing of the past.