AT&T, Verizon and ITI hash out net neutrality proposal

Once again, the bigwig leaders in the service provider and vendor community are gathering behind closed doors this week at the Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington-based lobbying group, to see if they can come up with yet another net neutrality plan.

A Wall Street Journal article confirmed that a number of large telcos including AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), vendors including Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), and cable (National Cable & Telecommunications Association) lobbyists have gathered discuss how to manage Internet traffic.

"Today's meeting is the first in a series of focused discussions, with ITI serving as facilitator, aimed at developing Internet openness principles that can achieve broad cross-sector support," said Dean Garfield, president of ITI, in a statement. "Over the last few months, much work has been directed at developing such a solution--including by Google--with significant positive steps forward."

Of course, the FCC's own net neutrality drive came to a halt when news broke that Google and Verizon jointly developed their network management proposal, which excluded wireless. A number of public interest groups, including Public Knowledge, immediately panned the joint proposal as "nothing more than a private agreement between two corporate behemoths, and should not be a template or basis for either Congressional or FCC action." However, Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility said last week that his company supports the plan.

Despite its aggressive involvement in net neutrality, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) decided to not take part in the talks. "We took our best shot at a constructive proposal. This is an important issue and we support any attempt to move the ball forward," said a Google spokeswoman.

Similarly, the FCC, which also is not participating in the discussions either said in a statement that they "we're glad that there is ongoing dialogue."

For more:
- Wall Street Journal has this story (sub. req.)

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