Some people are predicting that 2008 will be the year when the internet slows down. The cause is expected to be massive amounts of video traffic, partially driven by social networking sites. All those voice-over-internet phone calls will naturally add to the flow of packets that need to be routed around the world.
All this makes me wonder whether it might be better to allow a bit more discrimination in routing. Sending and receiving video is fun, but rarely essential. Having the more prosaic uses of the internet suffer unduly because of such things seems improper. I could probably surf text all day using the bandwidth required to watch a few minutes of television online.
I don’t really know enough about internet architecture to be able to say whether such filtering could be accomplished, whether it would be cheated very easily, or whether it would cause additional problems. That said, you can certainly expect such questions to get asked more often if predictions of slowly loading websites and jerky video calls prove correct.