US communications industry regulator Federal Communications Commission is set to alter the economics of the web in a way that would bias certain types of network traffic, Reuters has reported.
The regulator is establishing rules to govern internet usage and traffic management that could enable ISPs to charge users more for bandwidth-intensive applications such as video streaming on their networks.
Earlier this month commissioner Michael Copps said in a statement, "It's no secret that I am looking for the strongest protections we can get to preserve an open internet. At issue is who will control access to the online experiences of consumers - consumers themselves or big phone and big cable gatekeepers."
FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn said, "The commission has worked tirelessly to offer a set of guidelines that, while not as strong as they could be, will nonetheless protect consumers as they explore, learn, and innovate online. As such, I plan to vote to approve in part and concur in part the Open Internet Order during the FCC's open meeting."
According to Reuters, the rules would ban high-speed internet providers such as Comcast and Verizon Communications from blocking lawful traffic. However, ISPs will be able to manage network congestion and even charge based on internet usage.
With internet-enabled TVs, Blu-Ray players, and games consoles like the PS3 that can stream live TV via the internet, IPTV is set to make waves in 2011. As users download high-definition content, they will inevitably consume more bandwidth. For instance, Inception on Playstation Store is a 7.8Gbyte HD download.
Users are already experiencing bandwidth issues - particularly when several users in the same area stream large video files simultaneously. To control this, ISPs can actively manage internet traffic through traffic blocking and choking.