Fast downlink scheduling algorithms play a central role in determining the overall performance of high-speed cellular data systems, characterized by high throughput and fair resource allocation among multiple users. We propose a flexible channel-dependent downlink scheduling scheme, named the (weighted) alpha-rule, based on the system utility maximization that arises from the Internet economy of long-term bandwidth sharing among elastic-service users. We show that the utility as a function of per-user mean throughput naturally derives the alpha-rule scheme and a whole set of channel-dependent instantaneous scheduling schemes following different fairness criteria. We evaluate the alpha-rule in a multiuser CDMA high data rate (HDR) system with space-time block coding (STBC) or Bell Labs layered space-time (BLAST) multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) channel. Our evaluation shows that it works efficiently by enabling flexible tradeoff between aggregate throughput, per-user throughput, and per-user resource allocation through a single control parameter. In other words the Alpha-rule effectively fills the performance gap between existing scheduling schemes, such as max-C/I and proportional fairness (PF), and provides an important control knob at the media-access-control (MAC) layer to balance between multiuser diversity gain and location-specific per-user performance.