WASHINGTON: A week after the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced voting to rollback rules adopted in 2015 that require internet service providers to treat all online traffic equally, over 200 businesses have asked the agency to reconsider its plan to end net neutrality.
In a letter to FCC, more these businesses and trade organisations, including Airbnb, Reddit, Shutterstock, Twitter, among others, highlighted internet's growing role in the US economy, The Verge reported.
The letter cited figures saying that $3.5 billion in online sales happened in 2016 on Cyber Monday, marketing term for the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, and $3 billion on Black Friday.
Throughout all of 2016, online purchases accounted for $400 billion in sales, the letter pointed out.
As per current net neutrality rules, all businesses are allowed to compete equally. But without those rules, online businesses may be stymied by internet providers that prioritise their own interests, the companies said.
Indian-origin FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last week said that the so-called net neutrality rules "imposed heavy-handed, utility-style regulations" upon the internet that have "depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks".
"Today I have shared with my colleagues a draft order that would abandon this failed approach and return to the longstanding consensus that served consumers well for decades," Pai said.
"Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet."
The FCC will vote on the proposal, known as Restoring Internet Freedom Order, at its December 14 open meeting.
According to the letter: "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 lack of rules could force businesses into internet slow lanes or they could be blocked altogether, or forced to pay a toll.
"This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground," the letter pointed out.
Pai's proposal is almost certain to pass, with Republicans controlling three of the Commission's five seats.