While I agree we should adopt the European model, to not worry about net neutrality is foolish. Considering that opening up the last mile to competition is the way to go, doing so will require far more laws, regulations, hardware infrastructure, IPS's. This is also not even on the table while repealing net neutrality can and may be done deal with the stroke of a pen. Net neutrality isn't the ideal solution to keeping ISP's at bay, but it is currently the only thing we have.
There are more insidious and sinister aspects to ending net neutrality which are more long term and very political. Already, Sinclair Broadcasting is busy trying to corner the rural market for talk radio, the best way to control how the "masses" think and vote. Many, if not most ISP markets are single supplier. Get control of these and then make people pay for sites which YOU don't like and they will be silenced only reinforcing your message. This is potentially headed toward an Orwellian "1984" in the 21st century. DO NOT GO GENTLY INTO THAT DARK NIGHT!!
And they are about to make a whole lot more. One of the arguments made by those hoping to dismantle net neutrality during the proceedings was that none of the ISPs involved in benefiting from this deregulation would dare risk the public relations nightmare that would ensue if they should start introducing fast lanes and segmenting access to sites and services. Well, that's all fine and dandy, but outrage means absolutely nothing in the shadow of oligopoly control.
Where I live, ComCast is the only choice. You can have ComCast, or you can have no internet. This is by design, as ComCast and it's colleague oligopolies have gone to great lengths to produce competition-busting controls over municipal areas by setting up sweetheart deals with municipal governments and negotiating easements with exclusivity. In the event ComCast introduced metered access, requests I pay an additional $19.99 for their "NetFlix XFinity Blast Bundle!", my public outrage would have absolutely no impact on their sales. The very reason that utilities are regulated the way they are is because they are required for survival, and in the overwhelming majority of cases there are no alternatives.
Instead of getting angry about net neutrality, we should be outraged that we Americans pay more for broadband and have slower speeds than consumers in almost every other developed country.
I, unlike ISPs in the near future, have the bandwidth for both. I can be outraged, miffed, ticked, irked, and perturbed by the fact that Americans pay more for broadband access and receive significantly less than in all other developed nations. I can also be incensed that one of the handful of actual functional regulations keeping internet access from becoming as balkanized as cable TV was ended. This isn't an either or. Net neutrality served as a stop-gap to arrest the exacerbation of the other problem of shoddy access at overpriced cost - and now that too is gone.
Only the most bloody-minded net-neutrality proponents would argue that this is a bad thing. Most people would agree that peering and CDNs benefit the consumer.
A substantial number of my tax dollars (and yours) went into creating the technology that ISPs are selling back to me. Are we getting royalties on that, somewhere, that I don't know about? Is there a discount hidden in the myriad charges in my bloated monthly bill? Additionally, a substantial amount of my tax dollars and those of my neighbors goes into maintaining, operating, and keeping safe the land upon which the poles and infrastructure is leased to the ISPs. AT&T, Verizon, and ComCast all pay an effective tax rate considerably lower than what you or I happen to pay (21-32.25% CSIMarket). So while I heartily agree with your assessment that peering and CDNs benefit the consumer, those take place on the service-side, not the ISP side - and they aren't even close to offering a fair trade on this end. Moreover, the deregulation that occurred in rolling back net neutrality did not take place at the local level for states and municipalities, but rather at the national level. This doesn't open up the market to competition - it crushes it.
What economist in their right mind would assert that deregulation of a monopoly or oligopoly encouraged innovation and competition? By reducing the "burdensome regulation on ComCast, it will allow them to __________". I can't really fill in the blank there without laughing. That the most hated company in the entirety of the United States - so much so that it had to rebrand as Xfinity - would voluntarily encourage competition or investment in infrastructure when it just simple does not have to is sparkle pony imagining.
As for the differences between our state of regulation and affordable access to broadband where our European (and other developed nations) counterparts are concerned, there's one massive missing piece of the pie here that isn't taken into consideration. Anti-trust laws are still very much enforced and in effect in those nations. Monopolies and oligopolies are not tolerated, particularly with matters of goods and services of necessity. The EU literally has "National Competition Authorities" to ensure that competition is neither distorted nor restricted. I'd be super in favor of rolling back net neutrality and intensely deregulating internet access markets... provided AT&T, Verizon, ComCast, and Time Warner all get shattered into a hundred pieces. AT&T should be familiar with the process, having been blown up before back in the days of "Ma Bell". Deregulate to your heart's content! As a consumer, I'd like to pick and choose from 12 ISPs who compete with each other, rather than just the one.
Kudos for making the case that perhaps the destruction of net neutrality isn't the internet apocalypse, but it's a straw too many and a bridge too far for most consumers. The internet is a need today, not a want, and with the elimination of net neutrality we are more and more at the mercy of less than a handful of ISPs acting in concerted effort to divvy up access and squeeze every last dime from their option-devoid market.
I will be consistently bothering my local representatives, municipal, state, and federal, to return net neutrality in the form of strong legislation. And, I'll also mention that perhaps now is the time to rev up the ol' antitrust chaingun and take a good long look at non-competitive practices of some of these ISPs.