That’s the question at the heart of a new FCC effort to rewrite the rules of net neutrality. With the proposed merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast, there’s a growing fear that giant cable operators as well as internet service providers like Verizon would be able to charge some kinds of content creators – like, say, Netflix – more money to deliver their movies, news, and data through their pipes faster and better than other small providers.
The idea is that this could quickly Balkanize the web, and make it like the rest of America – a place where more money gets you better, faster, higher quality service. Content providers argue this would disadvantage new start-ups and hinder job creation. Pipe owners say it’s unfair that they’ve spend billions upgrading fiber optic networks and may not be able to recoup that money. To hear more about the debate, as well as what it might mean for the frothy tech stock market, check out this week’s episode of WNYC’s Money Talking, where Joe Nocera and I discuss it.