Thanks to Gordon Cook for pointing out remarks Jim Crowe, CEO of Level 3, made at Level 3's Analyst Conference in New York City on March 14th of this year. If you want to listen, it's under "Current Issues, Summary and Q&A" at the end of this audio presentation. Here's my transcription:
... the reason that I’m effectively addressing the issue today, is a trend over the last year to propose federal legislation mandating that the FCC define, arbitrate and police net neutrality, and this we at Level 3 do believe is a very bad idea.
Those who own content generally have been pretty innovative and have effectively competed with the broadband access providers. They have a broad range of content that is desired on the part of customers. They’ve done a good job of offering that content.
However it is the traditional Telcos, though, that really have the power if it moves to the FCC. The’ve got 100 years of experience. I've participated in a reasonable fraction of that period, competing with the RBOCs, and I can tell you, they have plenty of lawyers, plenty of lobbyists, and if you want to move to their turf, you want to give them an unfair advantage, let the FCC start to arbitrate net neutrality.
Far better to let the market sort through the issue, far better to let customer preference decide the issue. Today it’s becoming increasingly clear that it is socially unacceptable to differentiate between packets; let’s hope that remains the case. But if not, far better to have recourse to the anti-trust courts than to the FCC.
I'm not as confident about anti-trust, but I do expect public outcry should RBOCs begin packet discrimination on their Internet access services.
What to advocate? David Isenberg, in an articulate pro-net neutrality letter, ends by suggesting structural separation. Now that's an interesting idea — especially if separation takes into account the timescales represented in this diagram, with common carrier regulation applied to the lower layer and no telecom regulation applied above.