The 3-2 vote Tuesday marks a major victory for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who has spent more than a year trying to craft a compromise.
The FCC's three Democrats voted to pass the rules, while the two Republicans opposed them, arguing that they amount to unnecessary regulation. The new rules are likely to face intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill once Republicans take over the House. Meanwhile, public interest groups decried the regulations as too weak, particularly for wireless systems.
Known as "net neutrality," the rules prohibit phone and cable companies from favoring or discriminating against Internet content and services, such as those from rivals.