The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday approved "high-level rules of the road" designed to ensure that internet providers grant everyone equal access to the Web.
But the 3-2 vote immediately came under attack from both flanks, with internet-freedom advocates saying the new rules don't go far enough and critics saying the government should stay out of online business altogether.
In announcing the proposed rules this month, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said they would require high-speed internet providers to treat all types of Web content equally.
The rules are designed to, in effect, keep the companies that own the internet's real-world infrastructure from slowing down some types of websites or apps -- say, those belonging to a competitor -- or speeding up others for high-paying clients.
For average internet users, the vote affects whether government will guarantee they'll continue to have access to all Web content, regardless of their internet provider's wishes, and whether they'll get that content as quickly as businesses or individuals able to pay more for it.