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Controversial new rules affecting the running of the internet are expected to be approved by US regulators today. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a principle known as net neutrality; a tenet that ensures all web traffic is treated equally.The rules have been criticised for setting different standards for fixed line broadband and mobile operators.Officials said the regulations are "the first time the Commission has adopted enforceable rules" to govern the web.Tuesday's vote is the culmination of five years of fighting over how best to ensure the free flow of information in all its forms over the internet. The proposal also comes at a time when consumers are increasingly accessing the web via smart phones and turning to the internet to watch TV shows.'Rules of the road'The Commission's ability to regulate the internet was thrown into doubt following an appeals court decision earlier this year that said the agency lacked the authority to stop cable firm ComCast from blocking bandwidth-hogging applications. Many arguing for net neutrality say it is a fundamental freedom the web should guarantee.The FCC's agenda said the vote will address "basic rules of the road to preserve the open internet as a platform for innovation, investment, competition and free expression".That is a view backed by chairman Julius Genachowski. "We're adopting a framework that will increase certainty for businesses, investors and entrepreneurs," Mr Genachowski said in remarks prepared for the meeting. "We're taking an approach that will help foster a cycle of massive investment, innovation and consumer demand both at the edge and in the core of our broadband networks."The five member Commission is expected to vote 3-2 along party lines.Michael Copps, a Democrat, said in a written statement that he will not block the plan after weeks of what senior FCC officials called "robust engagement" with the Commission to toughen the rules. "The item we will vote on is not the one I would have crafted but I believe we have been able to make the current iteration better than what was originally circulated," said Mr Copps. "If vigilantly and vigorously implemented by the commission, it could represent an important milestone in the ongoing struggle to safeguard the awesome opportunity-creating power of the open internet."Fellow Democrat Mignon Clyburn is also expected to concur on the rules, whilst Mr Genachowski's vote is expected to push it through. Republicans Meredith Baker and Robert McDowell are expected to vote against the order.The regulations are expected to be challenged in court.'Squandered'A number of interested parties including internet providers, developers and companies like Google have said the rules will provide some regulatory certainty going forward. Many have acknowledged that the proposal could have been much worse.The new regulations would prohibit telecommunications companies that provide high-speed internet service from blocking access by customers to any legal content, applications or service. But, for the first time, there will be a policy that will allow for what has been termed "paid-prioritisation", where companies will be able to pay for a faster service.The FCC proposal would also place tougher restrictions on wired services from cable and phone companies than on wireless carriers, which have more limited bandwidth.It comes at a time when an increasing number of people are using smart phones or tablet devices to access the web or watch TV shows. The rules would allow mobile firms to block access to sites or applications that specifically compete with a carrier's voice or video services.Supporters of net neutrality feel the new regulations should have gone further and have slammed them as "fake net neutrality"."I think today is a tremendously important day in the fight to preserve a free and open internet," Aparna Sridhar of advocacy group the Free Press, told BBC News. "Chairman Genachowski has completely squandered a golden opportunity to make this vote meaningful. Until now we have had a certain amount of regulatory uncertainty and the carriers have had an incentive to stay on their best behaviour. "This rule will endorse bad practices in the wireless space and I think we will see the flood gates open from the blocking of applications to the slowing down of competitors' apps to monetising every application that seeks to travel over their network," added Ms Sridhar.In an opinion piece for the Huffington Post, Al Franken, US Senator for Minnesota, called the FCC vote "the most important free speech issue of our time" and the draft order the FCC will vote on a "badly flawed proposal".
Thats all I can Say This rule will endorse bad practices in the wireless space and I think we will see the flood gates open from the blocking of applications to the slowing down of competitors' apps to monetising every application that seeks to travel over their network," added Ms Sridhar.