FCC pledges against restricting web content

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler has said he will prevent ISPs from restricting user access to web content.

Consumers have hit out at the latest proposals from the FCC, which indicated that net neutrality rules could be passed which would mean content companies will have to pay broadband providers for faster internet speeds.

Wheeler said yesterday he will use "every available power" to prevent internet providers from restricting user access.

Consumers claim proposals could allow ISPs like Comcast and Verizon to create "fast lanes" for content companies that are delivering web traffic, and only provide unfettered access to those companies that are willing to pay for it.

However, Wheeler said on Tuesday that the FCC will shut down broadband providers that degrade services or create fast lanes that require consumers, content companies or both to pay higher fees.

"The internet will remain an open pathway," said Wheeler in a blog post. "If broadband providers would seek to use the commercially reasonable test as justification of activities in which users can't effectively use that pathway, or the capabilities of it are degraded, I suggest they save their breath, since such conduct would be a violation of the open internet rules we propose."

A five-member agency will vote on May 15 on formally proposing the rules, and the FCC could also propose rules on interconnection agreements, such as the deal struck between Netflix and Comcast earlier this year.

The FCC has been under pressure from consumers, ISPs and content companies to reclassify net neutrality rules since open internet laws were implemented in 2010.

Watch out for Capacity's cover story, "The end of net neutrality?" in the April/May issue.

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