Leading broadband and technology companies announced plans today for a voluntary Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group. The group would give advice to the FCC on Internet engineering issues like network management for congestion, peering, local interconnection, privacy, data security, and cooperation with law enforcement.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association had previously recommended the formation of a similar technical advisory broad within the FCC. While there are still many unknowns such as whether the deliberations would be public and whether consumer, small business groups and nonprofits could also participate, CCIA applauds the formation of a new forum for discussions based on the actual technical issues – not just political rhetoric.

The following comments can be attributed to CCIA Vice President of Government Relations Cathy Sloan.

“We are optimistic that having engineers reach common ground on how to solve technical issues like managing Internet traffic congestion or cooperating with law enforcement could help break through the inertia and advance middle ground solutions. But it should be noted that the credibility of these consensus recommendations to the FCC are limited if engineers for consumer and public interest groups are barred from the table.

“Another caution to keep in mind is that the FCC cannot and should not delegate its public interest responsibility to protect open Internet access to any private sector group. It would be pretty arrogant to suggest companies that dominate access to the Internet are in a better position to make recommendations that advance consumer interests than FCC experts. We are skeptical about the fairness and balance that would be possible when dominant Internet Access Providers have resources to devote to the group that are way out of proportion to those of entrepreneurs, small business, non-profit and public interest groups.

“CCIA continues to support the FCC’s efforts to clarify its legal authority over the telecommunications component of broadband Internet access.”

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