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The FCC has classified the Internet as a public utility – to keep it fast, fair and open.

Internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile must now act in the ‘public interest’ when providing a mobile connection to your home or phone, under rules approved Thursday by a divided Federal Communications Commission.

The plan, which puts the Internet in the same regulatory camp as the telephone and bans business practices that are ‘unjust or unreasonable,’ represents the biggest regulatory shakeup to the industry in almost two decades. The goal is to prevent providers from slowing or blocking web traffic, or creating paid ‘fast lanes’ on the Internet, said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The 3-2 vote was expected to trigger industry lawsuits that could take several years to resolve. Still, consumer advocates cheered the regulations as a victory for smaller Internet-based companies, who had feared they would have…

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