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'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website

Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extended the deadline for public comment on its net neutrality proposals – after a flood of traffic borked the agency's website yet again.

At the heart of the proposals are rules that could allow huge corporations to pay for prioritized internet traffic. While on the one hand, these fast lanes could efficiently and reliably pipe video and other stuff to broadband subscribers, on the other hand, it's feared smaller websites will be left with slow lanes.

"The deadline for filing submissions as part of the first round of public comments in the FCC's Open Internet proceeding arrived today. Not surprisingly, we have seen an overwhelming surge in traffic on our website that is making it difficult for many people to file comments through our Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS)," said FCC press secretary Kim Hart.

"Please be assured that the Commission is aware of these issues and is committed to making sure that everyone trying to submit comments will have their views entered into the record. Accordingly, we are extending the comment deadline until midnight Friday, July 18."

Last night the FCC's website took a dive as the deadline for submissions approached, just as it did the day after British comedian John Oliver broadcast his now-famous analysis of the issues behind net neutrality as he saw them.

According to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, more than 647,000 submissions were received by last Friday; the total number is likely to get close to a million, according to advocacy group the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC).

"The unprecedented outcry from nearly a million everyday Americans supporting Net Neutrality makes FCC Chair Tom Wheeler's choice crystal clear: He can side with the interests of everyday Internet users or telecom companies like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner," said PCCC organizer Keith Rouda.

"The right thing for the FCC to do is to listen to those at NoSlowLane.com and across the Internet who are calling for the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a public utility like water - equally accessible to all."

Those wishing to send in a comment needn’t rely on the FCC managing to keep its website up and running. Comments can be emailed in to openinternet@fcc.gov before the deadline and they will also be considered. ®

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