The Federal Communications Commission's 4-0 vote means that phone companies delivering Internet access via digital subscriber lines, or DSL, eventually will no longer have to lease access to their networks to competitors at deep discounts.
The decision is a political win for new Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, who has made broadband growth his top priority. Martin had delayed the agency's monthly meeting on Thursday by a day to continue negotiations with fellow commissioners on the issue. The commission has an open seat and is split between two Republicans and two Democrats.
The decision follows a Supreme Court ruling in June that upheld the FCC's authority to free cable companies offering broadband from the same regulations that phone companies have faced.
The telephone industry argued that the court's decision put it at a competitive disadvantage and that it should be treated the same as the cable companies.