The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is setting new so-called net neutrality rules to regulate web traffic. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Life, liberty and internet traffic equality for all. So says the Federal Communications Commission. It voted to adopt new rules that basically treat the internet like a utility. FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler: SOUNDBITE: TOM WHEELER, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSIONS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free open access to the internet." It comes down to something that has become known as net neutrality - the principle that internet providers should treat all traffic on their networks equally. So, companies, like Comcast or Verizon Communications, can't block or slow access to a website, to, for example, benefit their own services over their rivals. They also can't charge content providers more for faster speeds. It's a high-stakes decision. In fact, the FCC received more than four million comments on the issue. As for the winners? S&P Capital IQ's Tuna Amobi: SOUNDBITE: TUNA AMOBI, MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT EQUITY ANALYST, S&P CAPITAL IQ (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I have to point to, you know, Netflix as a potential winner here. This is what the company has been clamoring for all along, and not just Netflix, but a whole host of other kind of online streaming providers. You know, you can also look to other companies that are startups in this space, otherwise might not have had a chance to even compete." Larger technology companies, like Google and Facebook, have also been against paid prioritization, but have not specifically supported reclassification. Internet service providers say strict regulations would discourage investment in expensive network infrastructure. SOUNDBITE: TUNA AMOBI, MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT EQUITY ANALYST, S&P CAPITAL IQ (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think, the cable industry is going to be severely impacted in a negative way if this should come down to be the law of the land. Potentially, I think, you could see limited investments by these companies. Potentially, this could stifle innovation." Amobi says the broadband providers will likely challenge the new rules in court.