By TIMOTHY HENRYMANThe Federal Communications Commission is on the brink of making major changes to its controversial net neutrality rules that would allow Internet service providers to block or slow down websites.
The agency is expected to vote on Tuesday to reverse the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality protections and open the door to paid prioritization and other paid prioritizing, which would enable Internet providers to charge users more for access to certain content.
Under the plan, the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) would repeal net neutrality regulations passed in 2015 by the FCC that prohibited Internet service companies from blocking or throttling traffic, discriminating against websites and content and slowing down access to websites.
Under this plan, broadband providers would be able to pay for faster connections to their networks.
The FCC is proposing to reverse some of these regulations, including net neutrality, in its plan to reclassify broadband as a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The agency would also allow for paid prioritisation, which allows Internet providers like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner Cable to prioritize their Internet traffic over others.
Under net neutrality the FCC is saying that the Internet should be the “backbone” of the Internet, not a gatekeeper.
The rules prevent Internet providers from blocking, throttling or charging users more to access certain content or websites.
Net neutrality critics say the rules have prevented innovation and investment in the Internet and hurt small businesses.
The FTC has previously said that the net neutrality debate is a distraction from more important issues.
The net neutrality supporters say that the FCC has ignored these rules and that the agency is overstepping its authority by reclassifying broadband as an essential utility under the Telecommunications Acts.
The FCC has not yet issued a public proposal to repeal net-neutrality rules, but its vote to re-classify the Internet is expected.
The reclassification vote would be the first time that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has voted to reauthorize the FCC net neutrality rule.
The FTC has said that net neutrality is an important part of the broadband revolution and that it is working to keep it that way.