In true journalistic fashion, the gist of the piece is found in the lead paragraph:
When you use the Internet today, your browser glides from one Web site to another, accessing all destinations with equal ease. That could change dramatically, however, if Internet service providers are allowed to tilt the playing field, giving preference to sites that pay them extra and penalizing those that don't.Recall, if you will, that the phone companies didn't invent the Internet and, in fact, have waged a prolonged war against packet-switched networks in the hopes of wringing every last depreciable penny out of their out-moded copper infrastructure. Now that the Internet has established itself as an essential tool of business, commerce, entertainment, and lifestyle, the phone companies want to jump in and (in typically wrong-headed thinking) want to change it all so that it works better for them.
Write this equation down: "Good for Them = Bad for Us." The NYT editorial explains:
If access tiering takes hold, the Internet providers, rather than consumers, could become the driving force in how the Internet evolves. Those corporations' profit-driven choices, rather than users' choices, would determine which sites and methodologies succeed and fail. They also might be able to stifle promising innovations, like Internet telephony, that compete with their own business interests.The phone companies, like Mr. Jones, know something's been happening but they don't know what it is.
They could start by reading this.