The Federal Communications Commission held a high-profile, open meeting Thursday amid disruptive protests that resulted in the regulator voting to allow companies to pay for priority Internet content delivery.
The 3-2 vote threatens to upend the entire business model of online content. Some critics – some of which protested at the meeting and had to be removed – argue that the rules agreed upon by the FCC will lead to anticompetitive conduct among content providers, ultimately leading to higher prices for consumers. Advocates of net neutrality argue the FCC rules do not favor an open Internet.
But the FCC’s head Tom Wheeler has vowed to protect net neutrality to ensure that Internet service providers cannot outright block the delivery of web content He has also promised to enforce these rules in a way that protects consumers and competition.
Four months of public comment are to follow the FCC’s Thursday vote. The commissioners will then vote again on the redrafted proposals – twice previously rejected by a court – and eventually enact final rules on the matter.
FCC spectrum auction rules
The regulator also voted Thursday to controversial spectrum grab caps for its planned wireless auction next year.
The nation’s top wireless contenders, AT&T and Verizon, had slammed the FCC’s proposal to cap the amount of spectrum a company can acquire at the auction to ensure enough spectrum is available for grabs for smaller companies.
AT&T had gone so far as to threaten a boycott of the auction if those caps were enforced, but later retracted the threat.
The FCC voted 3-2 to the spectrum caps Thursday.
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