The rules would keep Internet providers from discriminating against, or acting as gatekeepers of, content on the Web.
The rule could upset wireless, telecom and cable operators who have fought against regulations that would give them less control over traffic that runs on their networks. They argue that they need to maintain flexibility to manage traffic to ensure some applications don't take up too much bandwidth and make Web access slower for some users.
But the rule, which is expected to come in the form of a fifth principal to existing guidelines for network operators, would clearly spell out that carriers can't discriminate what applications run on their networks, according to a source at the FCC who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the announcement was still pending.
The debate encompasses a wide variety of technology companies. Some -- like Google -- create applications for the Web and want customers to have easy access to their wares. Network owners, however, find themselves increasing on the defensive; their traditional business of providing phone and television has been challenged by upstarts providing much of the same content on the Web.