FCC unveiling new net neutrality plan Thursday

U.S. regulators on Thursday will begin to review the specifics of a new set of so-called "net neutrality'' rules aimed at making certain that broadband providers do not slow down or block consumers' access to legal Internet content or applications.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said Wednesday he plans to circulate his new proposal for the rules, expected to ensure that network operators disclose exactly how they manage Internet traffic and do not restrict consumers as they surf the Web.

Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the F.C.C.
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Wheeler has in the past indicated that the new net neutrality rules were not expected to address the issue of interconnectivity, or agreements in which content companies pay network providers for faster access to their sites or services.

The issue of interconnectivity was recently brought into the spotlight by a tussle between video streaming service Netflix and cable company Comcast, owner of CNBC.

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The five-member regulatory commission may vote as soon as May to formally propose the rules and collect public comment on them.

Virtually all large Internet service providers, such as Verizon Communications and Time Warner Cable, have pledged to abide by the principles of open Internet reinforced by these rules.

But critics have raised concerns that, without a formal rule, the voluntary pledges could be pulled back over time and leave the door open for deals that would give unequal treatment to websites or services.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in January for the second time struck down the FCC's previous version of the open Internet order.

—By Reuters