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Washington Beat: FCC Moves Forward With Set of Proposals That Could Change Internet

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The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted to move forward with a set of proposals that could change the way we use the Internet. Washington bureau reporter Geoff Bennett filed the following report for NY1.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Outside the Federal Communications Commission building Thursday, activists banged drums and carried signs that read "Free the Internet" and "Keep the Internet Free."

Inside, FCC regulators formally proposed new rules for how Internet traffic is governed. They say the proposal will guarantee an open Internet, but it would also leave room for Internet service providers to charge content companies for faster, more reliable web traffic. That has sparked nationwide protests.

"Basically, what we have is a big fat proposal, tons of questions from them and even more questions for us about the future of the Internet," said Lance Ulanoff, chief correspondent and editor-at-large of Mashable.

A future that critics say would see innovation suffer if the FCC allows companies with the deepest pockets to pay for the fastest web access.

"A big problem is that smaller companies, newer upstarts might not be able to have the same speeds that big guys like YouTube and Netflix would have to deliver services over the Internet," said Jeffrey Van Camp, deputy editor at digitaltrends.com. "You might not be able to get the services you want, and the services that aren't even invented yet might not be able to be invented because there are essentially two speeds to the Internet. There could be a fast lane and a slow lane."

In fact, Netflix already agreed to pay Verizon and Comcast to make sure that its movies and TV shows stream more quickly.

Earlier this year, Comcast earlier this year announced a bid to acquire NY1's parent company, Time Warner Cable.

“Netflix didn't seem to want to want to pay Comcast, but they did it because they were frustrated with the quality that Comcast customers were getting on Netflix services," Ulanoff said.

The FCC's proposed rules could change. It now goes through a public comment period, where politicians, technology advocates and average Americans all get to submit their views.

The FCC says it wants to have its final rules in place by the end of the year.

The FCC is inviting the public to submit their comments via email to openinternet@fcc.gov

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