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May 16, 2014

New net neutrality proposal gets the go ahead

FCC's 3-2 vote for rule change now open to 120-day public comment period.

By Ben Sullivan

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officially voted for new net neutrality rules on Thursday that could allow ISPs to charge content providers for prioritised speed and reliability.

The president of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, has received criticism from net freedom advocates and numerous technology advocates for proposing such rule changes, warning that the proposals could let broadband providers prioritise traffic on their networks.

Alongside Wheeler, two other Democrats concurred with the move, against just two Republicans in the 3-2 vote.

However, commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said on the vote: "I believe the process that got us to this rulemaking today is flawed. I would have preferred a delay. I think we moved too fast, to be fair."

Wheeler said: "The potential that there would be some kind of a fast lane has many concerned.

"I don’t like the idea and I will work to see that does not happen. We specifically ask whether we can and how to prevent an internet fast lane."

The FCC’s proposal does somewhat result in the fact that prioritised traffic deals may be legal, but it also asks whether deals should be banned, and how to prevent unprioritised traffic from slipping into an internet ‘slow lane.’

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"I will not allow the national asset of an open internet to be compromised. I understand this issue in my bones," said Wheeler.

Campaigners against prioritised traffic have asked the FCC to classify internet providers, such as Comcast and AT&T, as utilities, just like telecoms companies.

Stricter regulations that would come off the back of this move would shy away from attempts to prioritise traffic as all networks would have to be open and fair for consumers.

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