According to multiple sources, representatives from some powerful edge providers and the association representing telcos USTelecom are breaking bread Tuesday night (March 13) in Washington to talk about network neutrality legislation.
That comes as edge providers are backing court challenges to the FCC's December 2014 network neutrality regulation rollback that USTelecom and other ISPs support and both are looking to Capitol Hill for some help.
A spokesperson for INCOMPAS, whose members include Facebook, Microsoft and Netflix, confirmed that its CEO, Chip Pickering, will be in attendance, but described it as a social gathering that happens from time to time. A USTelecom spokesperson had no comment.
Among those not in attendance will be anyone from NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, a spokesperson confirmed. NCTA President Michael Powell has made no secret of his view that the government needs to start scrutinizing the power of the edge.
Both edge providers and ISPs have suggested legislation is needed to prevent the legal and political pendulum swings that have kept network neutrality rules hostage to years-long court battles and the changes in administrations, but what the new rules should be and how the FCC's authority should be clarified remain tough nuts to crack.
One key issue is whether internet access should be classified as a Title II common carrier service, as many Democrats and net neutrality activists, have insisted, or whether it should be defined as a Title I information service not subject to common carrier regs.
Edge providers have generally been OK with the government holding ISPs to bright-line net neutrality rules, but edge providers like Google, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon, have increasingly been brought into the conversation about what companies are in a position to exercise control over access to content, related to issues like privacy, cyberbullying, sexual exploitation on line and fake news.
So, another issue with net neutrality legislation is whether new rules about transparency and nondiscrimination should apply to the edge, not just ISPs.