By LUCAS ROBERTS, AP EditorThe Federal Communications Commission has issued a new net neutrality rule that could limit the ability of companies like Facebook and Netflix to speed up the flow of content to consumers.
The rule, which takes effect July 1, requires Internet service providers to treat all online content equally, even if they pay for some content.
The move could give content companies an edge over smaller competitors who may be willing to pay for faster speeds, while also increasing competition among Internet providers.
In a statement Friday, the FCC said the new rule will prevent a “toxic” situation where some companies are able to charge more for certain types of content.
The FCC has said that the rules would prevent discrimination and that broadband providers must treat all Internet traffic equally.
The agency says it’s committed to ensuring that the Internet remains open and affordable for all Americans.
“If companies continue to engage in unlawful practices that cause consumers to pay more for Internet access, the Commission will take action,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.
“That means taking swift action to stop companies like Netflix and Facebook from engaging in discriminatory practices and blocking or slowing down lawful content.”
Netflix said the FCC has not given enough time to respond to the rule.
“The agency needs to clarify whether the Commission intends to enforce its existing rules and ensure that the new rules do not prevent innovation or innovation-related investment in broadband,” the company said in a statement.
Facebook has also expressed concern about the new net-neutrality rules.
“We are deeply concerned about the FCC proposal to repeal net neutrality protections for the Internet, and we’re calling on the FCC to protect consumers from discrimination and the threat of unfairness,” Facebook said in an emailed statement.
Netflix and Google both declined to comment on the new FCC rule.
The new net neutrality rules also take aim at AT&T’s $3.7 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable.
The FCC voted 2-1 in favor of the deal last year, and President Donald Trump said the deal would be a “historic” deal that would give AT&s way to give “unfettered” access to the Internet.
In response to Trump, Pai said the merger was not a good deal for consumers.
“This merger would create an unprecedented level of concentration of power in the hands of a few companies, and it would put American consumers at risk,” Pai said at the time.