FCC: Internet Is a Public Utility

Agency approves 'net neutrality' rules
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 26, 2015 12:27 PM CST
Updated Feb 26, 2015 12:49 PM CST
FCC: Internet Is a Public Utility
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Net neutrality wins, for now: The FCC today decided to regulate the Internet as if it were a public utility, reports CNET. The rules mean that Internet service providers must treat content on their networks equally—they can't, for example, speed up some traffic in "fast lanes" because companies pay for the privilege, and they can't slow down traffic from others. The 3-2 vote was along party lines, and legal challenges from telecom and cable companies will come next, reports the Wall Street Journal. “The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules," said FCC chief Tom Wheeler at the commission meeting.

From Ars Technica: "The most controversial part of the FCC's decision reclassifies fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, with providers to be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act." Wheeler says the reclassification is necessary to withstand the court challenges to follow, and CNET notes that the FCC made the move because it lost two previous legal fights on net neutrality. Critics generally say that adding regulations to an industry that has been largely unregulated until now will put a crimp on innovation, and may result in new taxes and higher bills. (Here's an earlier primer on the subject.)

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