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Pay-As-You-Go Internet Plan From FCC Is Raising Questions

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The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently submitted a proposal that would regulate Internet providers, and includes a provision that would allow companies to charge users for how much they surf the Web. The pay-as-you-go Internet access model could put growing online video companies at risk, according to some analysts.

Although the proposal would generally prohibit broadband service providers from influencing Internet traffic, new billing models that charge by the amount of data consumed is a possibility, says FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. Some advocates warn that a pay-as-you-go system could lead to a wider gap in Internet use, where wealthy users have greater access. "The question is how this will be enforced because it has the potential to do a lot of harm," says Public Knowledge's Art Brodsky.

An FCC official says the agency would act as regulator for "arbitrary, anti-consumer, or anti-competitive tiered-pricing plans" in such a system. Genachowski says the proposal was designed to protect consumers while promoting "network investment and efficient use of networks, including measures to match price to cost such as usage-based pricing." The FCC will vote on the proposal on Dec. 21.

From The Washington Post
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