The Federal Communications Commission, led by Julius Genachowski, will vote on a final plan on net neutrality Dec. 21.
Bob Quinn, the company’s vice president of federal regulation and chief privacy officer, replied on the company’s public policy blog that AT&T has provided sweets to policymakers as well as journalists and others for many years during the holiday season.
“We just figured that after being served hot coffee and waffles the Commission was up for something sweeter,” he wrote. Quinn suggested that Public Knowledge was upset that its members didn’t get any cupcakes.
“Well consider it done, they are on the way,” he wrote.
Despite the brief burst of sugary holiday repartee, the push for Internet regulation is serious business on all sides. Republicans who will assume control of the House have been critical of Genachowski’s plans to regulate the Internet.
Comcast, which successfully sued the FCC over net neutrality rules, now backs Genachowski’s compromise. Comcast has been lobbying the FCC through its trade group, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
Kyle McSlarrow, president of the NCTA, and James Cicconi, AT&T’s chief lobbyist, discussed the net neutrality proposal on Monday with Edward Lazarus, FCC chief of staff, and Zachary Katz, legal adviser to Genachowski, according to FCC filings. They discussed a number of issues including the definition of broadband access, prohibitions on blocking and degrading legal content, nondiscrimination and reasonable network management, and application to wireless platforms.
Meetings in Public View
On the same day, other AT&T executives met with Copps and his advisers to discuss the issue. According to the filings, the AT&T officials urged the FCC to reject calls to ban arrangements for “paid prioritization” of service and any regulations that “inhibit investment and innovation in wireless broadband Internet access services.”
On Monday and Tuesday, Verizon executives met with three FCC commissioners and their staffs; Copps, Republican Meredith Attwell Baker and Democrat Mignon Clyburn.
In its filing, the company stated that it expressed concern with any net neutrality plan that imposed more regulation on wireless service as well as concern about media reports that the commission “may be prepared to establish for itself a much more pervasive role in regulating Internet services based on broad jurisdictional theories.”
The filings show that former Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.), president of CTIA, also met with Clyburn and her staff Monday and argued that net neutrality rules are not needed for mobile wireless broadband. On Tuesday, Walter McCormick, the CEO of US Telecom, had a telephone conversation with Copps in which he “emphasized the continuing absence of a problem for which the proposed Internet regulations are supposedly intended to address.”
Arguing the other side was Paul Misener, vice president of global policy for Amazon.com, who spoke by phone with Katz, Genachowksi’s legal adviser. According to the FCC filings, Misener “reiterated Amazon.com’s longstanding and continuing support for rules to protect the fundamental openness and growth of the Internet.”
Some supporters of strong net neutrality rules that apply to wireless broadband are taking their case right to the companies. A group of investors who include Mike D of the music group Beastie Boys and the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica of Atchison, Kan., are trying to pressure telecom companies to maintain open access to the Internet on wireless networks. They have filed proposals with AT&T, Comcast and Verizon calling for shareholder votes on open access to the Internet.
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