“The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday it will write new rules to prevent Internet service providers from charging companies such as Netflix Inc. or Google Inc a toll to reach consumers at the highest speeds,” Gautham Nagesh reports for The Wall Street Journal. “The guidelines are expected to ban broadband Internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to websites. The rule making will be the FCC’s third attempt in recent years at enforcing a concept known as ‘net neutrality.’ The courts have ruled against the FCC’s previous attempts to enforce net neutrality on companies like Comcast Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc. that provide Internet connections to households and businesses.”

“Last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out FCC rules barring providers from blocking or slowing down websites, but acknowledged the commission has some authority to regulate broadband company practices,” Nagesh reports. “The FCC said it would likely propose new rules in the late spring or early summer, after soliciting initial public comment. At least one Republican FCC commissioner voiced dissent. ‘I am deeply concerned by the announcement that the FCC will begin considering new ways to regulate the Internet,’ FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, a Republican, said. ‘Instead of fostering investment and innovation through deregulation, the FCC will be devoting its resources to adopting new rules without any evidence that consumers are unable to access the content of their choice.'”

“The announcement means the FCC has thus far resisted calls from Democrats and public interest groups to reclassify broadband Internet as a public utility, which would subject the industry to much greater regulation… Republicans on Capitol Hill remain unhappy with the FCC net neutrality effort. “The Obama administration refuses to abandon its furious pursuit of these harmful policies to put government in charge of the web,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.) said in a joint statement,” Nagesh reports. “‘We think reclassification would probably be the ultimate death of the broadband market,’ Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said in an interview last week. ‘We think it would dry up private investment and destroy all the gains made in the broadband market in the U.S.'”

“‘The cable industry has always embraced the principles of an open Internet,’ said former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, now the CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. ‘We continue to believe that the values of an open Internet can be preserved, while avoiding a damaging move to heavier regulation,'” Nagesh reports. “As part of the process, the FCC will also examine ways to encourage competition in the broadband market. That could include removing legal restrictions that prevent cities and towns from building their own broadband or Wi-Fi networks.”

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