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FCC chairman: Internet to be public utility

Rules changes will be voted on at an FCC meeting on Feb. 26.
By Ed Adamczyk Follow @adamczyk_ed Contact the Author   |   Feb. 4, 2015 at 12:14 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The Federal Communications Commission will seek more influence on Internet regulation to ensure net neutrality, its chairman said Wednesday.

In an editorial published on the website of the magazine Wired, Tom Wheeler explained new rules, proposed this week, "to preserve the Internet as an open platform for innovation and free expression. This proposal is rooted in long-standing regulatory principles, marketplace experience, and public input."

The new rules will cast high-speed Internet service as a public utility, an unidentified person, who was consulted the FCC on the proposal, told CNN. The change would give the FCC more power to regulate arrangements between Internet and content providers, and would change current policy in which Internet providers charge content companies, such as Netflix, for direct access to customers through broadband. The FCC would have the power to ensure broadband companies do not create "slow lanes" for public internet traffic, a concept known as net neutrality.

Wheeler's plans are in accordance with President Obama's statement in November that the Internet must be more heavily regulated to keep it independent. By reclassifying it as a public utility, providers come under the FCC's authority without imposing regulation regarding rates of cost to users or other financial requirements.

"My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to introduce new products without asking anyone's permission," Wheeler said in his editorial.

The FCC is expected to vote on the rules changes on Feb. 26.

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