FCC wants to strike a regulatory compromise with service providers

The FCC is trying to work out a deal with Internet providers and the telcos about how it will regulate what is carried over their networks in behind closed door meetings.

During these meetings, Edward Lazarus, the FCC's chief of staff, is talking with the lobbyists that represent telcos (AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), cable operators (National Cable & Telecommunications Association) and of course Internet search engine powerhouse Google.  

Among the discussion topics is how the FCC would not make major changes on how it regulates the Internet, but still have the authority to enforce "net neutrality" rules that would prevent service providers from throttling down the speed of a subscriber's connection or blocking bandwidth-hungry applications. Neither the FCC nor the lobbyists came to an agreement on any of the issues discussed.

"We're going to have a whole series of stakeholder meetings," Lazarus said.

These meetings come only days after the FCC voted to open up a discussion on reclassifying broadband as a Title II common-carrier service. At the same time, leaders of the same companies involved in this meeting crafted the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG or TAG) to develop best practices for network management.

Public interest groups, which weren't invited to the meetings, slammed the FCC's closed door meeting process. "The FCC's job is to regulate, not legislate, and that it what it should be doing. This secretive process is especially unseemly for what is supposed to have been the most transparent FCC in history," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, Senior Vice President and Policy Director of Media Access Project.

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

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