"The Internet is based on a layered, end-to-end model that allows people at each level of the network to innovate free of any central control. By placing intelligence at the edges rather than control in the middle of the network, the Internet has created a platform for innovation."
The 'Net is made up of independent providers with private peering contracts between them. This is one of the details in the "debate" about "Net Neutrality" that tends to get lost.
Update: Wired Magazine agrees with me.
Update: The bureaucrats have finally gotten their way, and put the 'Net back under their chains. February 26, 2015
Update: One more, from the Mises Institute.