Alyce is absolutely right: Network neutrality is a very emotional issue. It's emotional because people care about these things -- even politicians. And I agree with her assessment of the hype around it. I may love Michael Stipe's music, but his views on how to run the Internet don't -- and shouldn't -- move me in the least. There's a place for grassroots efforts, but a random assortment of celebrities with questionable networking theory knowledge won't get it done.

On the other hand, a couple of the established creators of the Internet have weighed in on the neutrality side, too. No, not Al Gore. And Vint Cerf might be disqualified, because he now works for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and has a vested interest here. But Tim Berners-Lee, who really did invent the Internet, very eloquently explains why a modicum of regulation is healthy:

Mostly, the Internet thrives on lack of regulation. But some basic values have to be preserved. For example, the market system depends on the rule that you can't photocopy money.

The argument that network providers need to get paid doesn't hold water, especially for large backbone providers like Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S). These companies are classified as Tier 1 carriers of network traffic, meaning they don't pay anybody for access to their networks. Instead, they have peering agreements for mutual, cost-free data exchange with the other major carriers, and smaller providers like EarthLink (NASDAQ:ELNK) or Telecom Italia (NYSE:TI) pay Verizon for the privilege of forwarding their traffic.

This means that Verizon is already getting a cut of the fees for access from both sides of a transaction -- Google and Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) pay for their connections, you and I pay for ours through something like Verizon's own DSL offering or Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) Cable, and whenever our data packets traverse Verizon networks, the company collects some cash.

So Alyce, it looks to me like the phone companies who lobby the hardest for tiered services are already burning the revenue candle at both ends and still asking for more. I'd like them to keep their hands out of my pocket -- and yours, too.

Time Warner is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Take the newsletter for a 30-day free spin.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in EarthLink but holds no financial position in any other company mentioned. He believes in coyotes and time as an abstract. Foolish disclosure is your ticket to a higher level of understanding.