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HISTORIC FCC RULING IN THE US
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says it is “ending lingering uncertainty about the future of the open internet” by enacting “once and for all strong, sustainable rules” on net neutrality in one of the most widely anticipated – and opposed – measures by a major regulator in recent times. Although the full rules have not yet been published, as is thenorm with FCC announcements, the intent is to reclassify broadband as a telecoms service, and there are three ‘bright line’ rules:
- No blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices
- No throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or nonharmful devices
- No paid prioritisation: broadband providers may not favour some lawful internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind – in other words, no ‘fast lanes’. This rule also bans ISPs from prioritising content and services of their affiliates.
The FCC says the new order “forbears from applying utility-style rate regulation”, including last-mile unbundling and “burdensome administrative filing requirements or accounting standards”, noting that mobile voice services have been regulated under a similar light-touch approach, and “investment and usage boomed”.
The two Republican commissioners dissented. The full rules will run to 300 or more pages and are likely to be subject to legal challenge.
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