No solutions expected from FCC meeting with Web, broadband access cos.
A meeting between senior Federal Communications Commissions officials and companies that provide internet services and access to the Web, continued Tuesday with no apparent solutions, according to a source at the meeting.
AT&T, Verizon Communications, Google, Skype and the chief of staff to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski met again for much of the day to negotiate a compromise on aspects of a net neutrality law that would prevent carriers from blocking traffic on their networks. Legislation on that issue would allow the FCC to carry out its goal for open Internet policies without having to move forward on a controversial proposal to assert its regulatory authority over broadband service providers.
A source at the meeting said that while the parties all appeared to be attending the meeting in good faith, "There is still a long way to go. And having said that, there are many, many more stakeholders that need to be brought into the process. This is not a process that will lead to a final solution by any means."
The meeting is expected to continue until around 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Josh Silver, head of public interest group Free Press, stopped by The Post Tuesday to talk about the closed-door meetings, which he criticized for their privacy. He said his group and other public interest groups weren't invited to the meetings Monday and Tuesday, nor have they been asked to participate in future discussions.
Indeed, he and others argued that any push for a corporation-led initiative to avoid the reclassification of broadband at the FCC would harm consumers who are in need of a strong watchdog as high-speed Internet becomes a bigger part of the economy and household needs.
In a blog post, Eddie Lazarus, the FCC Chairman's chief of staff, said any ideas outside Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal to reclassify broadband would be posted on the agency's Web site.
"Senior Commission staff are making themselves available to meet with all interested parties on these issues," Lazarus said. "To the extent stakeholders discuss proposals with Commission staff regarding other approaches outside of the open proceedings at the Commission, the agency’s ex parte disclosure requirements are not applicable."
Lazarus' blog post further angered public interest groups. They said the FCC meetings should a;sp be completely disclosed in ex parte notices that detail contents of those meetings.
“We are appalled at the idea put forward by the FCC Chief of Staff that there will be no disclosure (ex parte) requirements for meetings the Commission staff will hold on topics directly related to ongoing FCC proceedings," Public Knowledge said in a statement.
“To say, as Mr. Lazarus did, that ‘other approaches outside of the open proceedings’ would not be subject to disclosure requirements is simply not acceptable in any circumstance, must less in an Administration and an FCC which have promised new levels of transparency," Public Knowledge said.
June 22, 2010; 4:16 PM ET
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