The FCC passed new rules today that prevent cable companies from limiting access to rival content providers, and gives the FCC additional powers to fine companies that violate the rule.
The plan was adopted after more than seven years of debate, with critics saying the rules are unnecessary. The so-called net neutrality rules are mostly directed at wireline Internet providers aming to prevent discrimination against certain types of web traffic, but leave alone wireless broadband providers for the moment.
“Today, for the first time, we are adopting rules to preserve basic Internet values,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at Tuesday’s hearing. “These rules will increase certainty in the marketplace; spur investment both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks, and contribute to a 21st century job-creation engine in the United States.”
“Given the importance of an open Internet to our economic future…it is essential that the FCC fulfill its historic role as a cop on the beat to ensure the vitality of our communications networks and to empower and protect consumers of those networks,” he added.
The rules mean that Internet providers will not be able to block access to lawful content and websites, although they fall short of preventing providers from establishing different tiers of service at different pricing that might be used to favor transmission of their own content.
Companies such as Time Warner Cable and Comcast have opposed the rules because it limits their ability to restrict customer access to companies that provide a competing service, such as Netflix.