BITAG doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, as far as spoken acronyms go, but the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (also goes by TAG, for short) is looking to make (radio) waves. Facilitated by former FCC Chief Technologist (and University of Colorado at Boulder Adjunct Professor) Dale Hatfield, the group aims to "develop consensus on broadband network management practices and other related technical issues that can affect users' experience," which largely leads to addressing technical issues and making suggestions to policymakers. The group runs the gamut of major players in the broadband industry, including AT&T, Cisco, Comcast, DISH, EchoStar, Google, Intel, Level 3, Microsoft, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon.

Naturally, the aforementioned companies already on board are lauding the move, and for its part the NCTA is happy to see a forum for tech and engineering experts to openly discuss issues and policies. Providing the counterargument would be the folks at DSL Reports, who show reserve that this may end up being nothing more than "policy dog and pony show" to avoid stricter government regulations on network neutrality. At this point that remains to be seen, as this organization doesn't seem to have even hit infancy yet. Expect more in the coming weeks as it continues to form and attempts to organize. We submit for your perusal the press release, just after the break.
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Initial Plans for Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group Announced

Would provide advice and guidance on broadband network management practices and other technical practices that can affect users' Internet experience

WASHINGTON, June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A group of leading broadband and high-tech companies joined Adjunct Professor Dale Hatfield of the University of Colorado at Boulder today in announcing initial plans for a voluntary Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG or TAG). The TAG's mission is to bring together engineers and other similar 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. Participants agreed that the TAG's mission could also 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.

With Professor Hatfield, a former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chief Technologist, as facilitator, the group will continue to develop the operational and organization structure of the TAG over the coming weeks. Specifically, the group will assess specific functions for the TAG, including: promoting outreach within the Internet technical community; identifying "best practices" by broadband providers and other entities; interpreting "safe harbor" practices; providing technical guidance to industry and to the public; and/or issuing advisory opinions on the technical issues germane to the TAG's mission that may underlie disputes among discrete parties.

"The TAG will function as a neutral, expert technical forum and promote a greater consensus around technical practices within the Internet community," said Hatfield. "The TAG would consider a number of factors in looking at technical practices, including whether a practice is used by others in the industry; whether alternative technical approaches are available; the impact of a technical practice on other entities; and whether a technical practice is aimed at specific content, applications or companies."

The participants in these initial founding efforts for the TAG expressed their desire that the group would advise on technical issues, attempt to resolve disputes over network management and related issues outside of an adversarial context, and help inform federal agencies (e.g., the FCC, Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice) in their industry oversight functions. Staff from these agencies would be encouraged to observe and provide suggestions for the TAG's area of focus.

The structure of the TAG will be formalized in the very near future. The group stated its commitment to a diverse membership composed of engineers and other similar technical experts from academia, non-profit and Internet user communities as well as participating companies representing a diverse range of industry views (e.g., broadband providers, applications developers, content developers, and equipment manufacturers).

"This joint effort by industry leaders provides an exciting opportunity to address key operational challenges facing the Internet user experience," said Leslie Daigle, Chief Internet Technical Officer of the Internet Society. "The Internet Society believes this activity is an important contribution to the ongoing global, open technical dialog and looks forward to seeing its output appropriately integrated with the work of existing Internet standards activities."

Participants in the initial efforts to formulate the TAG have included representatives from 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. The organizations unanimously expressed their appreciation to Professor Hatfield, one of the most respected engineers in the communications policy field, for his willingness to organize and chair the effort.

Hatfield is currently Executive Director, Silicon Flatirons Center; Adjunct Professor in the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder; as well as an independent consultant. He has nearly four decades of experience in telecommunications policy and regulation. Prior to joining the University of Colorado at Boulder, Hatfield was the Chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology at the FCC and, immediately before that, he was Chief Technologist at the Agency.

For further information about this release or participation in the TAG please contact Hillary Maxwell at (202) 572-6205 or HMaxwell@dcigroup.com.

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Google, Verizon, Comcast, and more band together to form tech (and policy) advisory group