Deals for fast-lane treatment by providers "could raise significant cause for concern," the FCC said in its full order.
The rules, which passed by a 3-2 vote last week, prohibit broadband providers from engaging in unreasonable discrimination. While the rules as voted on last week did not appear to impose a blanket ban on paid prioritization, Chairman Julius Genachowski said at the time that many such arrangements could be considered unreasonable.
Late last week, the FCC released the entire 194-page order, which expands on the vote. In that document, the agency offered several reasons why it would look unfavorably on paid prioritization deals.
For one, the FCC said, prioritization deals marked a "departure from longstanding norms" that could "cause great harm to innovation and investment in and on the Internet."
In addition, the FCC wrote, "pay-for-priority arrangements may particularly harm non-commercial end users, including individual bloggers, libraries, schools, advocacy organizations, and other speakers, especially those who communicate through video or other content sensitive to network congestion."
The full text of the order also reiterated that broadband providers may implement pay-per-byte pricing. "Prohibiting tiered or usage-based pricing and requiring all subscribers to pay the same amount for broadband service, regardless of the performance or usage of the service, would force lighter end users of the network to subsidize heavier end users," the FCC stated. "It would also foreclose practices that may appropriately align incentives to encourage efficient use of networks."
The rules will almost certainly face a court challenge from broadband providers, who argue that the FCC exceeded its authority by attempting to regulate Internet traffic. An appellate court said earlier this year that the FCC lacks authority to enforce neutrality principles because the agency previously classified broadband as a Title I information service, and not a Title II telecommunications service. The FCC solicited comments earlier this year about whether to reclassify broadband access as a telecommunications service, but hasn't yet moved to do so.