The Federal Communications Commission is set to propose new Internet rules that would allow Internet service providers to charge content companies for faster delivery of their services over the so-called "last mile" connection to people's homes.
The agency also proposes to enhance government oversight of such deals to ensure that they don't harm competition or limit free speech, according to a senior FCC official familiar with the matter. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is scheduled to present the proposed rules to the agency's four other commissioners on Thursday.
So-called "net neutrality" rules have been hotly debated among policymakers, Internet providers and content companies such as Netflix. Without regulation, say consumer advocates, giant conglomerates -citing business or political reasons- could limit consumers from freely accessing certain types of content.
But some policy analysts are unhappy with the FCC's current proposal. The draft rules kick off a policymaking process that involves commissioner votes and a public comment period before a final vote sometime this summer.
How will this affect the long-term innovation of Internet companies, and, ultimately, consumers? Will current content providers have an edge over new ventures? Will this mean consumers pay more for using sites with faster connections?
With files from the Associated Press.
Rosyln Layton, Visiting Fellow, Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute
Craig Aaron, President and CEO of Free Press