US internet access regulations under vote

Controversial new laws attempt to create net neutrality, where all online content is equal

Tags: Access controlCompetitionUS Federal Communications Commission (www.fcc.gov)USA
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US internet access regulations under vote Contoversial new rules governing users' access to the internet in the US are being put to vote this week.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  December 22, 2010

Controversial new rules regulating how internet users access content, such as YouTube and Skype, are expected to be approved by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week, according to The Guardian.

Under the new regulations, two levels of internet access have been created, one for traditional fixed-line broadband and one for wireless and mobile providers. Fixed line providers will be banned from giving paying customers preferential treatment and banned from blocking content or online services from competitors.

The new rules would allow mobile internet service providers to block applications or services from any one who is not a direct competitor. The new rules would also allow mobile internet service providers to charge content companies for more efficient delivery of content to homes in the US.

The regulations will allow providers to charge customers for using high-bandwidth services such as downloading movies or streaming content.

FCC members Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn have both said they would support chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal. The five-member FCC panel is expected to approve the proposal in Washington soon.

The vote for the new regulations heralds in a new era in net regulation and represents the principle of net neutrality, where all online content is treated equally.

US Senator Al Franken said the vote for the new regulation is the ‘most important free speech issue of our time'.

"Imagine if Comcast customers couldn't watch Netflix, but were limited only to Comcast's video-on-demand service. Imagine if a cable news network could get its website to load faster on your computer than your favourite local political blog. Imagine if big corporations with their own agenda could decide who wins or loses online," said Franken. "The internet as we know it would cease to exist."

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