A swarm of Internet and telecom-related companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Dish Network, EchoStar, Level 3, AT&T, Verizon, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and Google, have teamed up to establish the so-called Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG or simply TAG for short).

The consortium is facilitated by former FCC chief technologist Dale Hatfield and strives to "develop consensus on broadband network management practices or other related technical issues that can affect users' Internet experience," such as the impact of applications, content and devices that utilize the Internet. Such knowledge will extend to addressing technical issues and "educating" policymakers.

At first glance, BITAG looks like a juggernaut positioned to combat or otherwise influence regulations such as network neutrality - but Google wants you to know that isn't the case. Clarifying the group's purpose, the company says BITAG isn't intended to replace the oversight and enforcement authority of the FCC or any other government body. Instead, BITAG simply hopes to gather bright technical minds to "provide some useful guidance to policymakers and Internet stakeholders alike."

You don't have to break out the tinfoil hats just yet, but DSL Reports adequately notes that broadband providers have a history of forming groups that offer the illusion of consensus with a focus on science and consumer welfare, but are actually tasked with revenue protection and deregulatory rhetoric. At this point, it isn't clear who is permitted to join BITAG, though Google welcomes the involvement of other interested entities - especially those representing the Internet user community.