Yes, that comment was probably a little vague!
Items will still have speed; what I meant by 'controlled' is that speed is introduced through certain item slots, building up over time (usually main hand, left hand, then boots, gloves, chest, cloak etc) so that it will be balanced across all paths, and allow players to 'level' up their speed easier. If, through their choices, a player misses a few choice points of speed, then usually there will a good 'buffer' item that can be purchased from vendors to help in any shortfall.
In most cases, players 'should' have equal or more speed than their opponents' (unless they are purposely choosing harder quests or going after harder challenges). Of course, this will depend on build and choice of items - sometimes slower items will have better abilities etc.