FCC's internet regulations are upheld

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) New rules that give the FCC more power to regulate the internet were upheld by a court Tuesday, marking a victory for the Obama administration over the major telecom companies.

The rules, known in the industry as "net neutrality," were put into effect a year ago by the Federal Communication Commission.

They prohibit internet providers, such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, from charging for so-called fast lanes that could be used by content companies that use a great deal of bandwidth, such as Netflix, Google and Facebook.

"After a decade of debate and legal battles, today's ruling affirms the FCC's ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections -- both on fixed and mobile networks -- that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

But this probably isn't the end of the legal battle, since the telecoms could take the fight to the Supreme Court.

"I continue to believe that these regulations are unlawful, and I hope that the parties challenging them will continue the legal fight," said Ajit Pai, an FCC commissioner who opposed the rules. "The FCC's regulations are unnecessary and counterproductive."The Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. split 2-1 in its decision upholding the rule. The majority decision agreed with the FCC's stance that, without the rules, there would be "a threat to internet openness...that would ultimately inhibit the speed and extent of future broadband deployment."

But in his dissent, Judge Stephen Williams worried that the rules will make it harder for new or relatively small firms to compete. He worried that it will lead to a "incurable monopoly" in which broadband service will be dominated by today's large, established players.