The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently voted to make available for public comment a proposal on protecting and promoting an open Internet, and in particular, the concept of “net neutrality.” The FCC’s May 15 proposal stems from its conclusion that “broadband providers have the incentive and ability to act in ways that threaten Internet openness” and two previous invalidated attempts to impose protections. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available for public comment until September 10, 2014.

Among the topics addressed by the FCC’s proposal, two issues in particular have been the subject of much debate. The first is whether paid prioritization (e.g., the ability for Internet service providers [ISPs] to charge a premium for access to a “fast lane” of broadband service) should be banned. The second issue involves the question of whether broadband providers should be regulated as utilities under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

An important public discussion will continue over the next four months related to the Internet’s future and the potential effect of the FCC’s proposal on ISPs and businesses, including the cost and service-level impact to cloud-based service agreements.