FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is poised to announce “net neutrality” rules that would prevent operators from discriminating against different kinds of content being carried over their networks.
Reports in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal said Genachowski would set out the new rules in a speech to the Brooking Institution.
The move “would make good on a campaign promise to Silicon Valley supporters like Google…but will trigger a battle with phone and cable companies,” the Journal said.
In a new departure, the new measures would also apply to mobile operators.
Currently, ISPs – but not cellcos - are governed by four principles introduced by the FCC when it last looked at the net neutrality issue in 2005. Under these rules, consumers have the right to use the content, applications, services and devices of their choice via the internet.
The principle of non-discriminatory treatment of web traffic will become a fifth rule, reports said.
No other details are available at this stage. Much will depend on how the FCC defines neutrality, but telcos and cable firms like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, as well as wireless providers, are sure to fiercely oppose the ruling, which they will see as interfering in the way they run their networks and their businesses.
Depending on how the rules are framed, carriers are likely object that the regulations do not allow them to manage their networks in the most efficient manner – a hot-button issue for mobile operators in particular, who are battling with exponentially-growing volumes of data.