U.S. communications regulators are proposing widespread changes in the way the Internet is operated in the country.
The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 Thursday to offer a plan that could allow such major Internet-service providers as AT&T and Comcast to make deals with companies like Google and Facebook to provide them with faster paths for their content to consumers.
The controversial proposal, however, is opposed by consumer groups and some other Web companies. They say all Internet traffic ought to be treated equally, which the regulators call "net neutrality." It also forbids Internet service providers from outright blocking Web sites.
The agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, said his proposal would not allow for "commercially unreasonable" business deals. He said he would not accept changes that leave consumers with slower downloads of Internet sites they visit.
The agency is calling for 120 days of public comment on the proposal. It includes the question of whether the Internet in the U.S. should be declared a public utility, much like telephone and electric service, and then be subject to much stricter government regulation.