The FCC To Host Net Neutrality Round Tables

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will host four “Open Internet Round Tables” to discuss a number of topics that relate to net neutrality.

The six sessions start with basic questions regarding the brass tacks of net neutrality itself, moving into the more technical aspects of the idea. The economics of broadband, a related topic, will also be discussed. According to the FCC, the sessions will help it “further develop” its “understanding of the issues” at hand.

At the risk of being too pleasant on a Monday morning, the idea isn’t a bad one. Discussing net neutrality issues will allow for more granular arguments and, hopefully, less space for generic statements of broad philosophical bent that do little to advance the conversation.

Here’s the schedule:

  • September 16 (morning): Policy Approaches to Ensure an Open Internet
  • September 16 (afternoon): Mobile Broadband and the Open Internet
  • September 19 (morning): Effective Enforcement of Open Internet Requirements
  • September 19 (afternoon):  Technological Aspects of an Open Internet
  • October 2: Economics of Broadband: Market Successes and Market Failures
  • October 7: Internet Openness and the Law

The sessions will be live-streamed, and TechCrunch will cover each as they happen. I presume that the final session will deal with the legal foundation of net neutrality, perhaps touching on the potential for Title II classification of broadband as a utility.

What will hopefully shake out of the sessions is a better understanding of the temperature of Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, and the two Democrats that also sit on the commission, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel. Its two Republican members, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, have shown no movement towards voting in favor of anything resembling network neutrality. So, it’s up to Wheeler,  Clyburn and Rosenworcel to come together if anything is going to pass.

The net neutrality debate, which has stirred up more than 1.1 million public comments, has brought an almost unprecedented focus to bear on the agency tasked with its answer. That spotlight won’t fade for some time.