Cable industry denounces Obama’s stance on Internet ‘fast lanes’

 The cable industry is denouncing today’s statement by President Barack Obama, who says Internet providers shouldn’t be able to reach deals with online services like Netflix or YouTube to move their content more quickly.

The statement aligns the White House with Internet activists who warn against creating “fast lanes” for online content.

A cable industry lobbyist says Obama is abandoning a longstanding policy of “lightly regulating” the Internet, and is now calling for “extreme” regulation. Another industry group says Obama’s proposal is a “gross overreaction” that would ignore other viewpoints.

The Federal Communications Commission is nearing a decision on how far to go to protect Internet consumers from backroom deals between broadband providers like Verizon and AT&T and content companies like Netflix. Internet activists want the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a public utility, to make sure that the government has enough power to regulate the Internet effectively.

In his statement, Obama says the law has always recognized that “companies who connect you to the world have special obligations” not to exploit their monopolies.

Meanwhile, shares in cable companies have been falling sharply today, after President Barack Obama issued a statement in support of those who advocate Net Neutrality. Time Warner, Comcast, Cablevision and Charter Communications have all seen shares drop between 2 and 4 percent.

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