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FCC will vote on Net neutrality in February

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It’s been a long and occasionally entertaining journey so far, but now it appears the Federal Communications Commission will take a defining vote on new Net neutrality rules in February. It’s a date in the calendar to circle for anyone with an interest in the development and preservation of an open Web, and the results of the vote will have a huge impact on the future of Internet access and its associated services.

As the Washington Post reports, draft proposals will be circulated internally during this month, ready for a vote in the next one. Under discussion are the so-called ‘fast lanes’ that could give more preferable treatment to those who are willing to pay for it — that’s something that President Obama and many large tech firms don’t want to see happen.

Information about the vote has been leaked rather than announced, so we don’t know exactly when the event will take place or precisely what’s included in the proposals to be voted on. The Post spoke to “analysts and officials close to the agency” who are suggesting that the momentum is building towards keeping the Web as a level playing field — this would be a blow to ISPs and their supporters who would prefer to see the option to have some form of tiered system put in place.

President Obama and proponents of Net neutrality want to see broadband companies regulated more strictly in the same way as telecoms firms — this would effectively prevent them from being able to set aside special ‘fast lanes’ for high-paying customers. At the same time, there are rumors that Republicans in Congress are ready to introduce legislation of their own, taking matters out of the FCC’s hands.

It’s a vital issue and high noon is approaching — have a read through our comprehensive Net neutrality guide for a complete rundown of what’s at stake next month.