What is an 'Open Internet'?

The FCC's Open Internet rules protect your ability to go where you want when you want online. Broadband service providers cannot block or deliberately slow speeds for internet services or apps, create special "fast lanes" for content, or engage in other practices that harm internet openness. The principle is often referred to as "Net Neutrality."

How do FCC rules protect the Open Internet?

The FCC's Open Internet rules protect and maintain open, uninhibited access to lawful online content. The rules specifically prohibit:

  • Blocking: Broadband providers may not block access to lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices.
  • Throttling: Broadband providers may not deliberately target some lawful internet traffic to be delivered to users more slowly than other traffic.
  • Paid prioritization: Broadband providers may not favor some internet traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind — in other words, no "fast lanes."  Internet service providers are also banned from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.

The rules also put in place standards going forward to ensure that ISPs cannot engage in new or different practices—outside those three prohibitions—that would cause similar harms to the open internet.  

The new rules apply to both fixed and mobile broadband service to protect your internet access.

Testing your broadband speed and comparing services

FCC rules require broadband providers to be transparent about the services they offer and to provide sufficient information to empower you to make informed choices – including choices about speed, price, and network management practices. The rules also require that providers' information about their broadband service must be accurate and truthful.  The FCC reports periodically on service providers’ broadband service: www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america. The FCC also encourages the public to test broadband speeds using publically-available, free, online tests and to test mobile broadband with our smartphone app: www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america/mobile.

For more information

For more information about the Open Internet, see www.fcc.gov/openinternet.

FCC Ombudsperson

The Ombudsperson also is available to assist consumers, businesses, and organizations with Open Internet complaints and questions.  The Ombudsperson can be reached at: ombudsperson@fcc.gov or 202-418-1155.

Print Out

The Open Internet Guide (pdf)


File a Complaint with the FCC


Visit our Consumer Complaint Center at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov to file a complaint or tell us your story.

Request Accessible Format

To request this article in an accessible format - braille, large print, Word or text document or audio - email fcc504@fcc.gov, or write the address or call the phone number at the bottom of this page.

Consumer Help Center

Learn about consumer issues - visit the FCC's Consumer Help Center at www.fcc.gov/consumers.


Date Last Updated/Reviewed: 
Tuesday, October 25, 2016