updated 10/22/2009 11:33:02 AM ET 2009-10-22T15:33:02

Federal regulators are expected to take a step forward Thursday on rules that would prohibit broadband providers from favoring or discriminating against Internet traffic.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission says "network neutrality" regulations would prevent phone and cable companies from abusing their control over broadband connections. He says that's necessary to ensure subscribers can access all legal Web sites and services, such as Internet calling applications that compete with the broadband companies' offerings.

The chairman, Julius Genachowski, has the support of the two other Democrats on the five-member commission, enough to formally launch the net neutrality proceeding. That would likely produce rules for the FCC to vote on by next summer.

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