The US government has agreed to a new contract with a private company that will provide a platform for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to negotiate with broadband providers.
The FCC last month proposed a new framework to manage the internet, known as net neutrality, and this is the first step in a process that would lead to a standardised system of internet regulation that is expected to include rules on how internet service providers can treat content, how fast data flows and how consumers can access content.
The contract, signed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, calls for the company, iScan, to provide the commission with a “platform to provide a marketplace for competitive broadband providers to bid for broadband access service”, according to the FCC.
Under the terms of the deal, the FCC will pay $10 per month for access to iScan’s network of about 3 million devices, the same as other broadband providers, but it will pay a lower price for the services that iScan offers to consumers.
The new arrangement allows for a range of services from “wireless data capture” to “broadband and wireless device monitoring”, the FCC said in a statement.
“The FCC is seeking to incentivise providers of service to provide broadband access to all consumers and to enable them to offer affordable, reliable, and secure broadband access for everyone, regardless of age, location or financial means,” it added.
The agency’s move comes as more and more Americans are moving to cheaper mobile broadband.
A survey released in November found that 73% of US households and 62% of mobile phone users had switched to cheaper internet access services, with the number of internet users dropping from 9.4 million in 2015 to 7.3 million in 2016.
The latest data also found that a majority of Americans now have a smartphone.