FCC to Take Up Net Neutrality

U.S. telecommunications regulators plan to tackle at a December 21 meeting contentious Internet traffic rules intended to prohibit broadband providers from blocking or slowing some traffic.

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday a tentative agenda for its next meeting that included an order to adopt regulations "to preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation, investment, competition and free expression."

The agency said the rules would protect the transmission of lawful Internet traffic for consumers, while giving broadband providers the flexibility to manage their networks.

So-called net neutrality rules would determine whether high-speed Internet providers such as Comcast Corp (NYSE:CMCSA)and Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ) should be allowed to block or slow content information, or charge for a "fast lane" to reach users more quickly.

At stake is how quickly consumers, particularly those using handheld devices such as Research in Motion Ltd's BlackBerry and Apple Inc's iPhone, can receive and download videos and other content.

Broadband providers say they should be able to manage networks, but some public interest groups and content providers argue that there should be a level playing field for all Internet users.