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FCC issues final order dismantling net neutrality

The 539-page Restoring Internet Freedom Order officially rolls back Obama-era rules.

James Martin/CNET

The Federal Communications Commission released on Thursday the final text of its order repealing controversial Obama-era net neutrality regulations.

The 539-page Restoring Internet Freedom Order comes about three weeks after the agency voted 3-2 along party lines to dismantle rules passed in 2015 to ensure that all traffic on the internet is treated equally and to prevent broadband and wireless providers from blocking or slowing online content. The agency also voted to eliminate the legal foundation that gives the FCC oversight of internet service providers.

Even though many people agreed with the basic premise of net neutrality, the FCC's rules became a lightning rod for controversy because they placed broadband providers under the same strict regulations that govern telephone networks.

Ajit Pai, a Republican who was appointed chairman of the FCC last year by President Donald Trump, said repealing net neutrality rules will help consumers and promote competition.

"Broadband providers will have stronger incentives to build networks, especially in unserved areas, and to upgrade networks to gigabit speeds and 5G," Pai said in a statement. "It also means more ways that startups and tech giants alike can deliver applications and content to more users. In short, it's a freer and more open Internet."

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who strongly supported net neutrality rules, reiterated her opposition to the rules repeal.

"So many people rightfully believe Washington is not listening to their concerns, fears and desires," Rosenworcel said in a statement. "It saddens me that with the release of this decision rolling back net neutrality, you can add the FCC to the list. In this document, the American public can see for themselves the damage done by this agency to internet openness."

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