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From an editorial Friday in The New York Times:

After weeks of being criticized for a proposal that would have divided the Internet into fast and slow lanes, the Federal Communications Commission put forward a new plan Thursday.

The FCC has been struggling for years to come up with rules to prevent phone and cable companies from blocking or interfering with Internet content. Last month, the chairman of the agency, Tom Wheeler, appeared to throw in the towel when he proposed regulations that would have allowed telecommunications companies to strike deals with firms like Netflix and Amazon for faster delivery of their videos and other data to consumers.

Then, on Thursday, the commission voted 3-2 along party lines to consider two options. Under the first option, the FCC would require telecom companies to provide their broadband subscribers a basic level of unfettered Internet service. But as long as that condition is met, companies would also be able to charge businesses like Netflix fees to deliver their movies faster than other companies.

Under the second option, the commission would reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, akin to a public utility. That would allow for more stringent regulation.

There are serious problems with the first option. It would give telecom companies a financial incentive to scrimp on basic high-speed Internet service in order to encourage companies like Apple or Google to pay fees for premium delivery. The commission would be on much more solid ground if it decided to classify broadband Internet service as a utility.

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