The Federal Communications Commission plans to propose new rules on net neutrality on Thursday, with the aim of allowing internet service providers the ability to charge companies to provide their customers with faster internet speeds, according to the New York Times.
Although the new proposals would not explicitly permit internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, to discriminate or deliberately slow down access to specific websites, they will allow preferential treatment – or faster speeds – to content companies that have negotiated individual deals.
This would allow providers to charge content companies, such as Skype, Netflix, and Google (which owns YouTube), if they wished to provide a premium service to their users. The FCC would also need to agree that any terms would be "commercially reasonable" to all interested parties.
As companies are faced with higher costs, they may choose to transfer the extra expenditure to their customers leading to higher subscription fees.
This could particularly affect the likes of Netflix, which is now responsible for more than half of all online video streaming.
The company already suffered a minor backlash when it announced Tuesday that it planned to increase its monthly subscription price by one or two dollars per month. Netflix has not replied to a request for comment.
Companies that provide video and voice services, such as Skype, could also be affected by the proposals, as they hope to provide a stable connection to their customers.
Net neutrality became a widely discussed idea earlier this year after a court ruling struck down the notion that internet providers could not favor traffic to one website over another.
At the time, this was seen as a setback for the Obama administration, which has pushed the idea of net neutrality.
The rules proposals have been written by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, appointed to the role in November 2013, and will be circulated to other commissioners on Thursday to discuss any amendments. A final vote will be made May 15.
Updated — April 23, 10:55 p.m. ET:
The FCC chairman said in a statement that there has been "no turnaround in policy."
"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."
Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Siraj Datoo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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