FCC approves chairman's Net Neutrality plan

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2014 -- The Federal Communications Commission today approved Chairman Tom Wheeler's rules designed to preserve an open Internet, or as the plan is commonly known, Net Neutrality.

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The plan, which attracted about4 million comments from interested parties, was approved in a party line vote, with all three Democrat commissioners in support and the two Republicans objecting.

Wheeler's new rules aim to preserve an open Internet and prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) such as AT&T and Verizon from discriminating against content makers, including Amazon and Netflix. The new rules, which are sure to face legal challenge, allow the FCC to regulate ISPs as a utility - like traditional telephone service - under Title II of The Communications Act.

“No one, whether government or corporate, should control open and unfettered access to the Internet,” Wheeler said just before calling for the vote.

Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Reilly and their allies in Congress say the plan amounts to overkill that will result in higher broadband prices, slower speeds, less deployment in underserved areas, less innovation and fewer options for consumers.

Supporters of the plan, including President Obama, are concerned that without Title II authority, the commission will lack the power to prevent ISPs from slowing or blocking services or content, or charging more for faster service.

Wheeler said charges that his proposal was a “secret plan to regulate the Internet” were “nonsense.”

“This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech,” he said.

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