Mass Effect & Mass Effect 2
While comm buoys allow rapid transmission, there is a finite amount of bandwidth available. Given that trillions of people may be trying to pass a message through a given buoy at any one time, access to the network is parceled out on priority tiers.
The Citadel Council and the Spectres have absolute priority; if they are using all the bandwidth, everyone else must wait. Individual governments and their militaries enjoy the next-highest tier. During wartime, civilian communication can suffer hours or even days of lag. Intelligence agencies study ping time through various systems to predict military buildups.
Below the governments and militaries, bandwidth priority is sold to the highest bidder. Media conglomerates, particularly headline news networks, purchase higher priority to provide their viewers with timely information. Corporations that require timely information and response capability (for example, financial institutions and investment firms) also invest heavily in priority access. The funds acquired through sales of bandwidth are used to maintain and expand the communications infrastructure.
While everyone with a computer has guaranteed free and unlimited access to the galactic extranet, they are last in line for bandwidth and may have to wait for their requests to be processed. Bandwidth resale corporations use investment capital to purchase blocks of high priority access, made available by paid subscription.