Score one for net neutrality advocates, and strike one for big telecom and cable companies — not to mention a good many Republicans.

The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday, on a 3-2 tally, to approve the new guidelines for Internet regulation that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed Feb. 4.

Also read: The Activists Won: FCC Chairman Proposes Strongest-Ever Protection of Internet Freedom

The vote represents a big victory for supporters of a more open Internet than many vested corporations would prefer, as Variety reported after the announcement:

The FCC’s approach is one favored by many public interest groups, Hollywood content creators and a large number of web companies including Netflix and Twitter: It is reclassifying Internet service as a Title II telecommunications service, a regulatory designation akin to that of a utility.

The FCC’s move was intended to give it solid authority to impose rules over Internet service. They prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling content, as well as from collecting payments from content providers for speedier access to their subscribers. The latter has been commonly referred to as the idea that ISPs would eventually create Internet “fast lanes.”

The sharply divided 3-2 vote on Thursday may not spell the end of a decade-long debate over net neutrality but a new period of contentiousness. The FCC’s approach is strongly opposed by cable and telecom companies which provide wired and wireless Internet service, along with congressional Republicans who have already launched hearings and inquiries into the FCC’s rulemaking. They say that the reclassification of the Internet will burden the industry with unnecessary regulation.

In unveiling his proposal earlier this month, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler even called them “the strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC.”

After Thursday’s vote, Wheeler expressed his enthusiasm for the outcome, calling some opponents’ fears that this move marks the first of a series of overreaching, anti-business restrictions “nonsense” and declaring, “Today is a red-letter day for Internet freedom.”

Wheeler wasn’t always so convinced on the issue; but, as Variety also noted, President Obama’s show of support in November, along with John Oliver’s colorful and wildly viral rant on the subject in an earlier episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” helped turn the tide.

Check out Oliver’s salty commentary below:

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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