March 5, 2015
In a historic 3-2 vote on Thursday, February 26th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve net neutrality rules aimed at governing Internet traffic. The FCC’s decision would expand government oversight for Internet service by treating it as a “public utility” or “common carrier service” under Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Historically, only fixed broadband services (i.e., cable and telephone) have been regulated under Title II. This new regulation will require Internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all Internet traffic equally, meaning they will be prohibited from activities such as charging “prioritization” fees to certain websites demanding faster download speeds, or blocking or degrading certain users’ Internet access.

Several major telecom companies, including AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, and Verizon are expected to challenge the FCC’s decision on the grounds that it lacks the authority over ISPs. Following Thursday’s ruling, Comcast’s executive vice president, David Cohen, warned that litigation was inevitable and that Comcast may consider canceling plans to develop its own broadband network in light of the increased regulation. AT&T and Verizon have previously issued warnings that they would challenge any action by the FCC to enact Title II against ISPs.

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