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Tech companies ask FCC to keep net neutrality rules

Letter signed by 200 companies argues that scrapping the rules will hurt the US economy.

James Martin/CNET

More than 200 companies, including AirBnb, Reddit and Twitter, are urging the Federal Communications Commission to reconsider its plan to repeal its net neutrality regulations.

In a letter addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday, the companies asked the agency to reverse course and scrap plans to roll back most of the Obama-era regulations that prevent broadband providers from messing with your internet access. The letter, released to coincide with Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day in the US, argues that blocking or slowing online content would hurt the US economy.

"The internet is increasingly where commerce happens," the companies said in the letter. "This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground."

The letter cited figures showing Americans spent $3.5 billion on Cyber Monday last year, a 10 percent increase over the previous year's peak online shopping day.

The letter came about a week after Pai unveiled plans to dismantle the 2015 regulation that requires all internet content be treated equally. The rules banned broadband providers from "throttling" traffic. They also prohibited providers from offering so-called fast lanes to companies willing to pay extra to reach consumers more quickly than competitors. 

"An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers," the companies said in the letter.

The FCC didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FCC is expected to vote on Pai's proposal at the commission's next meeting on Dec. 14.

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