Internet providers are vowing a vigorous fight after United States regulators announced the toughest restrictions ever on the industry.
The companies plan to take the battle to the US congress and the courts, saying the new regulations will stifle investment and innovation, Reuters reported Friday.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unveiled the new policy which reclassifies broadband — both fixed and mobile — as a more heavily regulated “telecommunications service”, more like a traditional telephone service.
The regulations come into effect in the coming weeks.
In the past, broadband was classified as an “information service” subject to looser regulations.
The change gives the FCC more authority to police various types of deals between providers such as Comcast Corp. and content companies such as Netflix Inc. to ensure they are just and reasonable for consumers and competitors.
Internet providers will be banned from blocking or slowing any traffic and from striking deals with content companies, known as paid prioritization, for smoother delivery of traffic to consumers.
The FCC also expanded its oversight power to so-called interconnection deals in which content companies pay broadband providers to connect with their networks.
The FCC will review complaints on a case-by-case basis.
Large internet providers say they support the no-blocking and no-discrimination principles of the new rules but that the FCC’s regulatory path will discourage investment by lowering returns and limiting experimentation with services and business plans.
Some smaller telecoms such as Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. have argued the new rules will have little impact on investments.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said internet service providers’ revenue stream “will be the same tomorrow as it was yesterday”.
“I have spent a lot of time in public policy, and today is the proudest day of my public policy life,” he later told reporters.
Legal experts and industry lobbyists say corporate lawyers are waiting for the FCC to publish the specifics of the rules, a document more than 300 pages long.
Lawsuits can be filed after the rules are recorded in the Federal Register, likely days later.
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