FCC gives up on net neutrality?

Net neutrality could be out the window, based on new so-called “open Internet” rules the FCC will propose Thursday. Under the proposed rules, content companies can pay Internet service providers for special access to consumers, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Service providers could not block or discriminate against specific websites under the proposed rules , the Journal reports, but providers could provide preferential treatment to companies such as Skype or Netflix that rely on high-speed broadband connections, as long as arrangements between the companies are “commercially reasonable.”

The New York Times comments, “The proposed rules are a complete turnaround for the FCC on the subject of so-called net neutrality, the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose, and that no content providers should be discriminated against in providing their offerings to consumers.”

The Times continues, “Proponents of net neutrality have feared that such a framework would empower large, wealthy companies and prevent small start-ups, which might otherwise be the next Twitter or Facebook, for example, from gaining any traction in the market.”

The Journal reports that content providers “would be paying for preferential treatment on the 'last mile' of broadband networks that connects directly to consumers' homes. The proposal does not address the separate issue of back-end interconnection or peering between content providers and broadband networks.” The Journal in addition notes that “…the FCC plans to significantly increase the disclosure requirements for broadband providers, which could include details such as the speed and congestion of their service along the last mile.”

The FCC's proposed revised rules stem from a federal court throwing out previous rules.

Read the complete Journal article here (subscription required).

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