FCC set to make net neutrality ‘basic Internet value’

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to pass net neutrality rules today after its chairman secured cautious support from two Democratic commissioners who favour stronger regulation of Internet traffic.

The move, on the eve of today’s meeting to approve an “open Internet” order pave the way for a compromise that will prevent broadband network operators from blocking legal content, while allowing them to manage traffic on their networks by charging heavy users more.

It should allow Julius Genachowski, the FCC’s Democratic chairman, to overcome opposition from the commission’s Republican members who have expressed concern that unnecessary regulation will deter investment in broadband infrastructure.

Following concessions offered by Genachowski, cable companies will be allowed to charge users and content providers for the network capacity they use, while mobile operators will have more freedom than originally proposed to favour some types of traffic on their networks over others.

“These rules fulfil a promise to the future — to companies that don’t yet exist, and the entrepreneurs that haven’t yet started work in their dorm rooms or garages,” Genachowski said in Washington. At present, there are no enforceable rules “to protect basic Internet values,” he added.

A number of consumer groups have labelled the compromise as ‘fake’ net neutrality.

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