U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski speaks to the media on the importance of net neutrality.
U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski speaks to the media on the importance of net neutrality. - 
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STACEY VANEK SMITH: The Federal Communications Commission is set to approve so-called "net neutrality" rules today. They're supposed to help ensure internet users get equal access to bandwidth whether they're visiting a major site, like amazon.com or something more specialized, like catswearinghats.com -- that's a real site, by the way.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh is with us live in our LA studio to get us up to speed. Good morning, Eve.

EVE TROEH: Good morning.

VANEK SMITH: Eve, what exactly are these new rules?

TROEH: The FCC's new map says internet companies can't block content based on who makes it -- as long as it's legal. And this is a big deal because, say you get your internet from Qwest -- and you want to use Facebook, or catswearinghats. But Qwest has its own social networking or catswearinghats site, so it blocks your lane to Facebook, or makes the speed limit really slow -- and then shows you a nice, wide-open express lane to its site. The companies like Qwest insist they haven't been doing this. There's evidence to the contrary. Regardless, now the FCC says that's not allowed. But, to be clear, the rules only apply to one kind of road -- traditional cable and DSL internet providers. Wireless phone companies like Verizon have been busy building new roads to the internet, like smart phones, if you've got one of those, and these rules do not cover them.

VANEK SMITH: But the companies that have to follow these rules -- I would imagine -- don't like them. Why is that?

TROEH: Well, right now, if you start a new web site, and it gets hugely popular, the company providing the bandwidth to that site -- like Qwest, again -- has to accommodate all your visitors. If you made the site it's not your job to add another lane to the highway. But internet providers say they might want to start charging web sites to build extra lanes, or charging users to get access to those lanes. They say that's only fair, and they'll probably take the FCC to court over their right to do that.

VANEK SMITH: Eve Troeh, thank you!

TROEH: Thank you.

Follow Eve Troeh at @evetroeh