A traffic jam congested all avenues to the Federal Communication Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System Tuesday, as hundreds of thousands of citizens flooded the commission's website to voice opinions on proposed regulations for net neutrality.

More than 670,000 comments poured in through the ECFS and the FCC's website on the last day for the submission of the first round of debate on broadband regulations the FCC has proposed.

Kim Hart, FCC press secretary, said the FCC would work to ensure that each comment would be officially logged and counted in the debate.

"Not surprisingly, we have seen an overwhelming surge in traffic on our website that is making it difficult for many people to file comments," said Hart. "Please be assured that the commission is aware of these issues and is committed to making sure that everyone trying to submit comments will have their views entered into the record."

The July 15 deadline for the first round of comment submission was pushed back (PDF) to July 18 after the FCC's ECFS was overwhelmed near the close of the original period. At around 10 a.m. EDT, the ECFS started returning error messages.

After having previous legislation struck down in court, the FCC picked up its ongoing campaign to develop regulations for the usage of broadband Internet in May and proposed a new set of changes.

The FCC's proposed regulations have prompted concern in all but the largest of corporations, who'd likely benefit the most if the commission moves ahead with allowing the regulated implementation of Internet fast lanes. These "Internet fast lanes," structured with toll booths, would serve as a financial barrier for small and midsized companies looking to gain a foothold in their markets.

Michael Beckerman, president and CEO of The Internet Association, a trade group of large companies supporting an open Internet, said Internet service providers have incentive to moderate Internet traffic and the tools to do so. He stressed the dangers of allowing paying individuals or entities prioritized Internet access and urged to FCC to deliver strong policy that would preserve net neutrality.

"Segregation of the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes will distort the market, discourage innovation and harm Internet users," said Beckerman. "The FCC must act to create strong, enforceable net neutrality rules and apply them equally to both wireless and wireline providers."

With the filing period extended, individuals wishing to express their opinions in the net neutrality debate may do so by visiting the FCC's ECFS or by submitting an email to the commission. The FCC will issue replies between July 18 and Sept. 10.

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