Completely agree with @jonsonbill. Here's something that I had written when there was a huge outcry against Airtel Zero.
Net neutrality is the principle that "last mile" providers of Internet access should not discriminate between different types of content and content providers while providing access to paying customers. It is one of the fundamental tenets that has helped shape the Internet as an engine of extraordinary innovation and growth.
It is, therefore, unfortunate that the topic has become a subject of mass hysteria, with people peddling false analogies and blindly taking positions that they neither understand nor have thought through. I feel especially sorry for the 9 year old who was allegedly led to believe that Internet access is like drinking milkshake.
It is not all black and white.
The idea of net neutrality has its share of criticism. At on point in time, Netflix reportedly accounted for 70 percent of bandwidth consumption in the US. It is reasonable to assume that not all of it was consumed in the cause of innovation or levelling the playing field for the small guy.
Google is on record saying that while it supports net neutrality, it is also in favour of discriminating between types of content. E.g. between text and video.
But the most pressing criticism is that it hinders investment in additional bandwidth. It is the telcom providers who build and pay for much of the fiber optic backbone that powers the Internet. The more avenues they have for making money, the greater the capacity they will invest in. That can't entirely be a bad thing.
Different societies, different contexts
The concept of net neutrality first evolved in in a nation where a computer cost a week's average wages and monthly Internet access cost less than an hour's average wages. Pretty much anyone who wanted to access the net could afford it. The need was to level the playing field, preserve the influence of academia, and foster innovation. It has worked pretty well for them.
Today, we are debating net neutrality in a society where a computer costs half a year's average pay, and monthly Internet access costs three days' pay. Even if we consider upper estimates of 250 million people with net access, we are still left with a billion people who don't have it. That is our most pressing problem, as far as the Internet is concerned.
The myth of the level playing field
My wife runs a small online apparel business. Like everyone else, she is dependant upon Google Adwords for reaching out to new customers. However, the CPC rates are way higher than what she can afford. Any guesses on who actually can afford those rates? That's right.
There is a massive move towards mobile, especially apps. There are only so many apps that users will install on their phones. The small guys would be lucky to get their families to install their apps. Assuming they can afford to develop and maintain them, that is.
If the small guy can outbid others on Google and outshine them on app stores, it would be a piece of cake to compete with free Internet access for Flipkart or Facebook.
It is not a one way street
It does appear to be a slippery slope. Airtel and Flipkart or Reliance and Facebook might band together to drive out competition. Absurd as it may sound, we may be witnessing the end of Internet freedom as we know it.
But look at the possibilities. The same model could be used by, say, Infosys Foundation to sponsor Khan Academy, thereby putting high quality education in the hands of a billion people. WhatsApp could do the same with real time communication. The government could make e governance truly democratic.
I still believe in net neutrality
It is a concept that has served us well. We should be extremely cautious about tampering with it. But there is good reason to believe that it is ready for the next stage in evolution. We need to think this through and debate it thoroughly.
The current mass hysteria isn't helping the cause one bit.