Net neutrality is in the news, but I think there's a lot of confusion about what net neutrality is in the first place. I decided to take a stab at making an analogy to help non-technical people understand the general idea of what it is and isn't without getting into the weeds about ISPs, traffic shaping, QoS, zero rating and such. I'd love to hear people's thoughts and suggestions.
The internet service provider operates a toll bridge. Under net neutrality rules, they would be free to set their own prices for crossing the bridge, they can offer an ‘unlimited’ bridge crossing plan that allows subscribers to cross the bridge as many times as they want for a fixed monthly fee. They can charge higher tolls during busy hours.
They can charge heavier vehicles higher fees to compensate for the higher cost of providing service (i.e. more wear and tear caused by heavier vehicles). For example, they can have a weigh station and set the fees for crossing the bridge based on the weight of the vehicle.
However, they are barred from inspecting the contents of the truck and charging a fee based on the contents. They are barred from asking the driver their destination and varying the charge based on that. They are barred from charging a low fee to cross the bridge to visit Whole Foods but a higher fee to visit Stop and Shop.