The FCC today voted 3-2 to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers and impose regulations similar to those imposed on utilities. Today's decision is unlikely to change your daily Internet habits and instead helps preserve the status quo, which some companies were pushing to change.
While many Internet service providers say they're committed to a free Internet, some oppose the FCC rules because they want leeway for how they package and sell various Internet plans.
"We've got a free and open Internet today and it has been a tremendous success," Bret Swanson, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told ABC News. "The question is why we want to impose 80-year-old regulations on perhaps the most thriving part of our economy. All of the uncertainty could really harm this most innovative part of our economy."
The FCC's new rules will have to move through the bureaucratic chain of command, getting a rubber stamp from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which could take as long as 120 days, according to details of the rule-making process on the FCC's website.
The rules will then be published in the Federal Register, the official journal of the government that is a daily collection of proposed regulations and public notices, at which time Swanson said it's likely they will be challenged in court.
"We probably will see the mother of all court challenges on probably a dozen different legal matters," he said.
Congress could also vote to nullify the FCC rules, however President Obama, who has voiced his support for net neutrality, could then issue a presidential veto.
Marvin Ammori, an Internet policy expert and First Amendment lawyer, told ABC News he expects "these rules will be debated for as long as cable and phone companies think they have a shot of removing them."
Regardless of the political chess and costly battle that may be on the road ahead, Ammori said "it’s a historic day because the decision is stronger than any decision we have ever had at the FCC."
"We've completely won in terms of the messaging and the culture," Ammori said. "No one can oppose the principle, they [the carriers] just pretend they want to do it in a different way."