The telecom players

A look at the telcos, studios and networks, Internet companies

THE TELCOS

They own many of the cables that comprise the core of the Internet. Right now, they’re “neutral”: They treat all Web traffic equally. There are rumblings, though, that they would like to charge for use of their networks, give preference to sites that pay and slow down or block sites that don’t — if consumers stand for it.

THE STUDIOS & NETS

They have conflicting interests. They’d be happy to see their own, approved sites and content get preferential treatment, but they don’t want their competitors freezing them out. They need cooperation from the telcos on piracy, so they’ve been reluctant to take a position on Net neutrality and regulation.

THE NETCOS

They may or may not create their own content, and they don’t own the pipes. They attract eyeballs and advertising dollars while telcos complain they get a free ride. Big companies, like Google, MSN and Yahoo, could pony up for preferential treatment, but that could cripple sites that lack corporate backing.

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