Once upon a time, the Internet was essentially run by the US Government. Similar services, in other countries, were funded by their respective Governments.
In other words, we -did- technically pay, but we paid over a MUCH longer time-frame (1 year, as opposed to 10 milliseconds), and we paid evenly, making the =effective= cost, per pay period, as close to zero as makes no odds.
What's more, we paid for the bandwidth, NOT for the transaction. Which makes sense. If you have a 10 gigabit pipe, then the running costs are the same whether you have 1 transaction or 1,000,000. The optic fibre doesn't wear out, and any server is going to require the same level of maintenance, regardless of activity.
This system made considerable sense. Costs were located at the expenses, not at the services. Everyone benefitted, and everyone was happy. Well, everyone except the accountants, who hated and despised this type of model, as it was All Wrong And Evil And Didn't Line Their Feather Nests!
So, the Governments of the world have slowly (or, in the case of the US, quickly) dumped the Internet into the hands of said accountants, who now charge not only for the pipes, but for the content, the services, the accounts, the adverts, the licences and the kitchen sink.
What's happening is we're now paying sometimes as much as ten times over, to the same people, for the same information. Why? Because these people can get away with it.
The Internet costs practically nothing to run. You use a bit of electricity, sure. You need to replace a few wires & fibres, here and there, true. Every 5-10 years, you might even need to replace a hard drive. But as far as the physical infrastructure is concerned, that's it.
For the content, most sites distribute stuff they found on other sites, or stuff they were going to sell via traditional outlets anyway. In the case of news sites, it's often both.
But what about server crashes? See: Watchdog cards. Ok, what about upgrades? Usually only required through sloppy design. Slap a cache on the front, and see what happens. Crackers? If you're running everything SUID & super-user, have not isolated in any way, shape or form the services, have .rhosts files everywhere, no shadow passwords or other secure password mechanism, have no hosts.allow/deny, and make everything read/write/execute, I don't have much sympathy if someone breaks in. If you rolled around in an anthrax pit, and developed anthrax, does it make sense to blame the anthrax for getting in?