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FCC to propose new net neutrality rules

The FCC's next attempt at rules to regulate Internet service providers in their relations with content providers and consumers includes major concessions to the ISPs.
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Written by Larry Seltzer on

Reports from Reuters and the Wall Street Journal say that the FCC will make another attempt at rules for net neutrality, with a vote at the FCC's May 15 meeting.

The Journal says that the new rules would include major concessions to ISPs and other bandwidth providers, explicitly allowing them grant higher network priority to content providers who pay for it, as long as such access is available on "commercially reasonable" terms to all interested content providers. The FCC would decide what is reasonable on a case-by-case basis.

Since the FCC's loss in Federal Appeals Court in January over their last net neutrality rule proposals, much has happened: Netflix, has started to reach interconnection agreements with ISPs, starting with ComcastTime Warner Cable agreed to be bought by Comcast, a deal which has been opposed by many including Netflix; and the FCC made more spectrum available for high-speed Wi-Fi. All of these affect the environment for which the rules are aimed.

The proposed FCC rules would not allow ISPs to block or otherwise discriminate against specific Internet sites. The new rules would also increase disclosure requirements for ISPs of their network management practices.

The significant changes in the rule, generally towards the interests of ISPs, may be an attempt to soften ISP opposition. By the same token, the changes may not satisfy vocal net neutrality proponents.

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