Facebook, Twitter support U.S. FCC's Web rules

WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Popular websites Facebook, Twitter and Craigslist on Monday threw their support behind an open Internet framework to be unveiled by U.S. regulators this week.

They were among two dozen technology companies, including Google Inc GOOG.O and Inc AMZN.O, which wrote a letter to the head of the Federal Communications Commission in support of staff proposals that would restrict network operators from favoring certain content over others for both landlines and wireless platforms.

The full FCC panel of three Democrats and two Republicans is slated to vote on Thursday on whether to issue proposals for so-called Network neutrality

Advocates of Net neutrality say Internet services providers must be barred from blocking or slowing traffic based on its content, because some content could generate more revenues than other. But providers say the increasing volume of bandwidth-hogging services, like video sharing, requires active management of their networks.

“For most of the Internet’s history, FCC rules have ensured that consumers have been able to choose the content and services they want over their Internet connections,” they wrote.

“An open Internet fuels a competitive and efficient marketplace, where consumers make the ultimate choices about which products succeed and which fail,” they said.

A final rule on Net neutrality is not expected until the spring after an extensive public comment period.

LinkedIn, EchoStar Corp SATS.O, eBay Inc's EBAY.O Skype and TiVo Inc TIVO.O also signed the letter.

Several Democrats and Republicans in Congress, including the Congressional Black Caucus, have urged FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to proceed with caution.

On the other hand, public interest groups such as Free Press and Public Knowledge have urged the FCC to stand firm on the issue, which is expected to garner the votes of the three Democratic FCC commissioners.

“The people who those members of Congress represent are the most at risk from the closed, controlling Internet that the phone and cable companies want,” said Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn. “The constituents of these members of Congress have fewest choices of providers and access to the least competition.”

CTIA, the wireless industry trade group representing AT&T Inc T.N and Verizon Wireless, said that the FCC should preserve the existing wireless Internet that has fostered innovation and created jobs.

“We should all be mindful of the dangers of unintended consequences coming from new rules implemented for the wireless Internet,” CTIA President Steve Largent said in a statement.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc VZ.N and Vodafone Group Plc VOD.L. (Reporting by John Poirier, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)