Among the top 10 highest bandwidth services today are media companies Netflix (NFLX) ; Hulu, the joint venture between Comcast's NBC/Universal, Disney (DIS) and 21st Century Fox (FOXA) ; Pandora (P) ; e-commerce firm Amazon (AMZN) ; and social network Facebook (FB) .
In the absence of Net neutrality, those companies would be put at the mercy of multiple local/regional cable companies, which could limit their innovations in entertainment and e-commerce. (The three largest cable companies, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox Communications -- though dominant in many local markets -- have fewer than 40 million total U.S. subscribers out of more than 100 million households in the U.S.)
Given that many consumers still have limited choice of local and regional Internet service providers, competitive pressures alone are unlikely to moderate carriers' behavior. Furthermore, the "cord-cutting" trend, which is cannibalizing cable companies' bread-and-butter television business, gives cable companies a strong incentive to impede the progress of Internet based competitors such as Netflix (NFLX) .
The argument for Net neutrality is about more than politics. It's about promoting innovation, supporting the growth of high-tech industry and keeping the Internet free and open.
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At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.