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The proposal would, however, leave the door open for broadband providers to experiment with routing traffic from specialized services such as smart grids and home security systems over dedicated networks as long as these services are separate from the public Internet.

Public interest groups fear that exception could lead to a two-tiered Internet with a fast lane for companies that can pay for priority and a slow lane for everyone else.

They are also worried that the proposal lacks strong protections for wireless networks as more Americans go online using mobile devices.

The plan would prohibit wireless carriers from blocking access to any websites or competing applications such as Internet calling services on mobile devices. It would require them to disclose their network management practices too.

But wireless companies would get more flexibility to manage data traffic as wireless systems have more bandwidth constraints than wired networks.

“Individuals who depend on wireless connections to the Internet can take no comfort in this half-measure,” said Joel Kelsey, political advisor for the public interest group Free Press.

Republicans, meanwhile, warn that the new rules would impose unnecessary regulations on an industry that is one of the few bright spots in the current economy, with phone and cable companies spending billions to upgrade their networks for broadband.

Burdensome net neutrality rules, they warn, would discourage broadband providers from continuing those upgrades by making it difficult for them to earn a healthy return on their investments.

Still, Genachowski’s proposal is likely to win the support of the big phone and cable companies because it leaves in place the FCC’s current regulatory framework for broadband, which treats broadband as a lightly regulated “information service.”

The agency had tried to come up with a new framework after a federal appeals court in April ruled that the FCC had overstepped its existing authority in sanctioning Comcast Corp. for discriminating against online file-sharing traffic on its network _ violating the very net neutrality principles that underpin the new rules. Comcast argued that the service, which was used to trade movies and other big files over the Internet, was clogging its network.

To ensure that the commission would be on solid legal ground in adopting net neutrality rules and other broadband regulations following that decision, Genachowski had proposed redefining broadband as a telecommunications service subject to “common carrier” obligations to treat all traffic equally. But Genachowski backed down after strong opposition from the phone and cable companies, as well as many Republicans in Congress.