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FCC proposed rules on Net Neutrality

FCC proposal on open Internet draws instant fire

Source: The Boston Globe
Author: Globe Staff and Wire Reports

Source:  The Boston Globe Author: Globe Staff and Wire Reports

Image courtesy of [suphakit73] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Federal regulators Thursday floated a new set of rules for the Internet that would guarantee open access but also permit service providers to charge extra to websites to have their content delivered more quickly.

The split vote by the five-member Federal Communications Commissions triggered sharp reactions from within the nation’s technology community, with many companies joining free-speech advocates to argue the measure could undermine a central tenet that all Web traffic should be treated equally, known as Net Neutrality.

Two Democratic commissioners on the panel joined fellow Democrat and chairman Tom Wheeler in backing the proposal, while the commission’s two Republicans opposed it. The vote is merely the start of the process; it created a four-month public comment period that commissioners will use to inform their next vote. Wheeler has said he wants the new rules to be in place by the end of the year.

As pushed by Wheeler, the proposed rules would ensure Web users have “robust, fast and dynamic” access, while Internet providers would be prohibited from blocking or discriminating against legal content moving along their networks. While providers cannot slow delivery times for some Web content, they would be allowed to offer faster delivery times for those websites willing to pay for such “fast lanes.”

Wheeler also wants the FCC to consider regulating broadband providers such as Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc., in a similar way as telephone companies, requiring them to disclose how they treat network traffic, and create an ombudsman with enforcement powers to investigate consumer complaints.

The FCC said its proposal follows a blueprint that was laid out by a federal court in January when it struck down key parts of the agency’s previous rules on open Internet. Wheeler said the main goal of new rules is to continue to maintain equal access to the Internet.

‘‘I will not allow the national asset of an open Internet to be compromised,’’ said Wheeler. “Our goal is rules that will encourage broadband providers to continually upgrade service to all.”

Moreover, Wheeler said any attempt by Internet providers for fast lanes that ‘‘squeezes out’’ other traffic, such as those from startups and small content providers, is unacceptable and would not be allowed.

But one of two Republican commissioners opposed to the measure said such far-reaching decisions about oversight of the Internet should be made by Congress, not the FCC.

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