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Robert M. McDowell, one of the two GOP appointees on the FCC board, dismissed the decision as an attempt to “deliver on a misguided campaign promise” and an “obsessive quest to regulate at all costs.”

” ‘Innovate at your own risk’ is the wrong message to send,” said Meredith Baker, the other Republican commissioner.

Mr. McDowell predicted that the regulations would stifle growth and innovation before being tossed out in court. In April, a federal appeals court ruled that the agency had exceeded its authority by sanctioning Comcast Corp. for discriminating against online file-sharing traffic on its network.

The plan, drafted by Mr. Genachowski over the past year with significant input from the industry, requires broadband providers to give subscribers access to all legal online content, applications and services - including online calling services, Internet video and other Web applications that compete with their core businesses.

But the rules also give broadband providers flexibility to manage data on their systems to deal with problems such as network congestion and unwanted traffic such as spam - as long as they publicly disclose their policies and practices. The regulations also back away from moves to extend more federal control over the fast-growing wireless industry.

Although the regulations are seen as decidedly more business-friendly than a proposal the chairman outlined in October 2009, reaction was mixed in the industry.

Verizon was considering a lawsuit, according to some reports.

Tom Tauke, Verizon executive vice president for public affairs, policy and communications, said the company was still studying the FCC action, but that the company was “deeply concerned” about the vote.

“Based on today’s announcement, the FCC appears to assert broad authority for sweeping new regulation of broadband wire-line and wireless networks and the Internet itself,” he said. “This assertion of authority without solid statutory underpinnings will yield continued uncertainty for industry, innovators and investors. In the long run, that is harmful to consumers and the nation.”

Disappointment also was palpable among strong net neutrality advocates: Michael Copps and Mignon Clyburn, the two Democratic appointees to the FCC board, voted for the plan, but said they would have preferred a stronger regulatory regime.

“There is more I would have liked in this order,” Mr. Copps said.

Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who has called for tough federal guidelines on net neutrality, said the rules approved Tuesday are “inadequate to protect consumers or preserve the free and open Internet.”

Across the Internet, net neutrality advocates and Internet activists echoed Mr. Franken.

“We are deeply disappointed that the chairman chose to ignore the overwhelming public support for real net neutrality, instead moving forward with industry-written rules that will for the first time in Internet history allow discrimination online,” wrote Craig Aaron, managing director of the left-leaning Free Press, a media reform group that has called for more regulation.

c This article is based in part on wire service reports.