Not all Internet traffic is created equal, according to a new set of Open Internet rules that the Federal Communication Commission is expected to announce next month.

The new rules are intended to clarify and strengthen the FCC’s stance when it comes to net neutrality, which formerly meant that ISPs had to treat all Internet traffic equally, regardless of how much of a strain any one source put on the overall network. Net neutrality was also regarded as the best way to ensure that competition among Internet businesses remained healthy.

According to various news reports, the new rules would change that so that ISPs can set up a “fast lane” for companies that want to ensure their web services are delivered more reliably and at higher quality. Of course, to use this fast lane you’ll have to pay a fee.

Thus far the FCC’s Tom Wheeler has taken the stance that the existence of such “fast lanes” would only improve an ISP’s ability to operate a high-speed Internet network, and that they wouldn’t necessarily hurt competition.

In a statement released yesterday, Wheeler attempted to dispel the idea that net neutrality was “dead,” saying:

“There are reports that the FCC is gutting the Open Internet rule. They are flat out wrong. Tomorrow we will circulate to the Commission a new Open Internet proposal that will restore the concepts of net neutrality consistent with the court’s ruling in January. There is no ‘turnaround in policy.’ The same rules will apply to all Internet content. As with the original Open Internet rules, and consistent with the court’s decision, behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted.”

The FCC is expected to reveal the new Open Internet rules some time in May.

 Via New York Times

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