Three Cheers for New Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group

by on June 9, 2010 · 8 comments

A new voluntary Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG or TAG) is being announced today with the goal of bringing together Internet engineers and other technical experts “to develop consensus on broadband network management practices or other related technical issues that can affect users’ Internet experience, including the impact to and from applications, content and devices that utilize the Internet.” BITAG’s goals include: (1) educating policymakers on such technical issues; (2) attempting to address specific technical matters in an effort to minimize related policy disputes; and (3) serving as a sounding board for new ideas and network management practices. BITAG will be chaired by University of Colorado at Boulder Adjunct Professor Dale Hatfield.

This is absolutely terrific news, and it’s exactly the sort of thing Mike Wendy and I called for in our recent PFF white paper, “The Constructive Alternative to Net Neutrality Regulation and Title II Reclassification Wars.”In that piece, we argued that we needed “quick, non-government-driven dispute resolution fora, best practices and industry-led guidance.”  That’s exactly what BITAG will provide.

Indeed, this new Technical Advisory Group is a very sensible step forward and it represents a constructive alternative to the ‘Net Neutrality Wars’ that continue to rage in Washington. BITAG essentially “de-politicizes” the Internet engineering issues by offering an independent forum for parties to have technical disputes mediated and resolved – without government involvement or onerous rulemakings. Consequently, this will help avoid the red tape and incessant delays that usually accompany bureaucratic resolution mechanisms, which can stifle continuous technological innovation and investments.BITAG members include: AT&T Inc., Cisco Systems, Inc., Comcast Corporation, DISH Network, L.L.C., EchoStar Corporation, Google Inc., Intel Corporation, Level 3 Communications, LLC, Microsoft Corporation, Time Warner Cable and Verizon.  That’s a terrific, diverse lineup and it illustrates that parties on both sides of the Net neutrality debate can find a way to come together a deal with contentious technical disputes without resorting to “nuclear [regulatory] options.”  And Dale Hatfield is a great choice to head the group. His experience and demeanor are perfectly suited for such an self-adjudicatory body.

Three cheers for BITAG!

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