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Nearly everyone in Washington seems to claim the high ground in the battle over “Net neutrality,” the concept that major telecoms should provide equal access to all content providers, not create fast lanes for their own Internet services and for other content providers willing to pay top dollar while charging other competitors sky-high prices. The issue is going to get hotter as telecoms get closer to rolling out high-definition television and other marvels over the Web.

The fight has captured the attention of four congressional committees, sucked in the entire telecommunications industry and spawned rival “grassroots” coalitions, some of which are actually fronts for competing industry groups. The Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice are considering calls to impose Net neutrality-inspired restrictions as a condition of approving AT&T Inc.’s bid to acquire BellSouth Corp.

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