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FCC

Comment sought on Internet rules

Federal communications regulators Wednesday put off a controversial decision on Internet-traffic rules, giving industry and consumer groups a chance to forge a compromise while avoiding a politically sensitive issue ahead of the November elections.

The Federal Communications Commission has been prodding phone, cable and Internet companies for months to find consensus on the thorny issue of “Net neutrality” - a debate over whether high-speed Internet providers should be allowed to give preferential treatment to content providers who pay for faster transmission.

Broadband and Internet companies have held a series of face-to-face and phone meetings this summer to craft a framework on how to treat the Internet data flowing through both home connections and wireless devices.

But those talks have failed to yield a deal, owing to big differences over the treatment of wireless broadband in particular. At stake is how quickly handheld devices, like Research in Motion’s BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone, can receive and download videos and other content.

Rather than imposing stricter regulations that are opposed by broadband providers, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski delayed a decision by calling for more public comment. He wants to know how companies and consumers will be affected if wireless devices are treated differently from home broadband lines.

“We have made progress over the last year - but we still have work to do,” Mr. Genachowski said.

COMMERCE

Boeing, GE tapped for trade mission

The U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday it will lead 15 U.S. companies, including Boeing, General Electric and Wamar International, on a trade mission to Iraq in October.

“The U.S.-Iraq bilateral relationship is entering a new phase of commercial engagement,” Francisco Sanchez, undersecretary of Commerce, said in statement. “This trade mission will connect American and Iraqi companies in a partnership to rebuild the Iraqi economy.”

The announcement came one day after President Obama declared an end to the seven-year U.S. combat mission in Iraq and as that war-battered country needs investment in virtually every sector.

The Iraqi government has budgeted more than $80 billion for infrastructure development, focusing on a number of large projects relating to construction, highways, railways, telecommunications, and security and defense, the Commerce Department said.

In addition, Iraq’s gross domestic production has nearly doubled since 2006, “soaring from $57 billion to $112 billion in 2009,” the Commerce Department said.

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