A U.S. federal appeals court has upheld the government's landmark "net neutrality" rules that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.
Tuesday's 2-1 ruling by the U.S. appellate court for the District of Columbia was strongly backed by consumer groups.
The rules, approved by the Federal Communications Commission early last year, treat broadband services like a public utility, and mandate that all operate at the same speed. In doing so, major service providers such as Verizon and Comcast are blocked from providing faster service to large content providers like Amazon and Facebook, in exchange for higher fees than those assessed smaller content providers.
Cable and telecom opponents have argued that the rules will prevent them from recovering costs for connecting to high-volume broadband users. Service providers, including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, say the rules threaten to undermine future investment in broadband infrastructure.
But President Barack Obama last year said the new rules would protect innovation, while allowing equal opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs, large and small.
Tuesday's ruling is expected to be appealed, but no details were immediately disclosed.