The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has backed US telcos, warning regulators against imposing 'net neutrality' rules that would block carriers from charging content providers premium prices to prioritise some web traffic.
While the ultimate decision on new regulations rests with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the DoJ's comments represent a blow to content companies such as Google and Microsoft who have been pushing for net neutrality regulations to restrict the ability of the big carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Communications and cable operators like Comcast that would like the option to charge some users extra fees for carrying web content such as video.
In comments submitted to the FCC, the DoJ said that precluding broadband providers from charging content and application providers directly for faster or more reliable service “could shift the entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements on to consumers”. Thomas Barnett, the department's antitrust chief, added: “Consumers and the economy are benefiting from the innovative and dynamic nature of the Internet. Regulators should be careful not to impose regulations that could limit consumer choice and investment in broadband facilities.”