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The Fate Of The Free Internet

A controversial proposal for Internet traffic rules that would allow providers to ration access to their networks is scheduled to come before U.S. communications regulators for a vote on Tuesday.

According to our news partner Reuters, The rules would ban high-speed Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon from blocking lawful traffic, but are expected to acknowledge their need to manage network congestion and possibly charge consumers based on Internet usage.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski's plan will likely attract the grudging support of his two fellow Democrats, analysts say, overcoming opposition from the agency's two Republicans.

Items on the FCC's agenda are sometimes withdrawn on late notice when agreement cannot be reached, but those following the issue think Democrats Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn will decide imperfect rules are better than no rules at all.

Copps wanted the FCC to reclassify Internet traffic under tougher rules applying to telephone service, while Clyburn has said she is uneasy about giving wireless Internet providers more freedom to manage their networks than wireline services.

The Republican commissioners have said they prefer that Internet traffic remain free of regulation.

"But I still think it's more likely that they will work something out," said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus and a former division chief at the FCC.

Internet providers say they should be free to manage their networks for the benefit of all users, but content providers fear disruption of access and anti-competitive behavior.

The rules could help cable companies battling competitors who deliver competing video content over the same Internet lines the cable companies hook up to customers' homes.

Level 3 Communications , a company that helps Netflix stream videos online, has accused Comcast of charging it unfair fees to deliver content to Comcast subscribers.

Hear more about this issue from BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield and why he thinks cable companies are buys in this environment. Watch the video now!




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