In a big win for the proponents of net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday they has passed rules that will ensure all internet companies have the same access to the internet.
The plan was started by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, appointed by President Barack Obama and approved by the Senate in November of 2013. Authority for the act is regulated by Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The action had been publicly supported by Obama.
The legislation will make sure internet service providers cannot give priority access to a particular company for any reason for legal content. The change in policy was underscored by ISP’s seeking payment for “top tier” access to more bandwidth, as some media providers, like Netflix, use a significantly larger portion of broadband overall. Opponents of the measure have suggested that charging more for higher speeds would create a better internet experience for consumers through less government regulation while supporters suggest that smaller companies could be forced out by creating an internet that would be ruled by powerful communications companies, and ISP’s.
The final vote was 3 to 2, as had been expected, with Democrats, including Wheeler, voting in favor of the change, and the two Republican committee members voting no to the measure.
“The Internet is too important to allow broadband providers to make the rules,” Wheeler said at the announcement.