FCC to Get Draft Rules on Internet Traffic, Chairman Says

U.S. regulators next month are to consider draft rules to keep Internet service providers from slowing or blocking access to websites, the head of the Federal Communications Commission said today.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, speaking at a news conference in Washington, said he would propose rules to be considered at the agency’s May meeting. A preliminary vote would start a comment period before a final regulation to replace rules a court voided in January. Wheeler didn’t give details of his proposal.

The voided FCC rule required companies that provide businesses and consumers high-speed Internet service over wires to treat all traffic equally. With the regulation voided, companies such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. face the prospect of new charges for fast connections.

Connection agreements like one Netflix Inc. struck with leading cable provider Comcast Corp. in February aren’t considered to be among issues to be addressed by open-Internet rules, Wheeler said at a March 31 news conference. Netflix agreed to pay Comcast millions of dollars annually for more-direct connections that ensure improved speed and reliability for its video service.

Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings in March criticized Comcast, Verizon Communications Inc. and others for trying to charge online TV providers to deliver shows over their networks. Hastings called for rules that would prevent Internet service providers from extracting a toll to deliver shows such as “House of Cards” over their networks.

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