If you were among those hoping that a quick resolution of the debate over “net neutrality” could be hammered out and AT&T would lift its “pause” on new fiber networks so the North Carolina Next Generation Network could be built – well, think again.

More bad news on the Internet broadband came Friday: Not only is the FCC pushing back any new “net neutrality” guidelines but the chair said Friday the “big dogs are going to sue regardless of what comes out.”

That’s hardly good news for backers of the North Carolina Next Generation Network, which is to be built by AT&T.

Fiber projects are already on hold at the telecom giant, and now the net neutrality debate is being extended into sometime next year.

Both The Washington Post and Politico reported in detail about FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler’s warning at a meeting with reporters.

“Look, the big dogs are going to sue, regardless of what comes out,” he said. “We need to make sure that we have sustainable rules.”

Count among the big dogs: AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Comcast and other big providers who bitterly oppose Internet regulation as described under “net neutrality.”

After losing in federal court, Wheeler was lobbying for less-stringent oversight that would be acceptable to both the “big dogs” and those demanded neutrality.(Don’t forget: Among them is Google, which is building its own networks and is eyeing the Triangle for Google Fiber.)

But any attempt at a quick compromise blew up when President Obama called for Internet providers to be regulated as a utility two weeks ago.

AT&T “Pause” Hits NCNGN

AT&T quickly declared a “pause” on fiber projects until the “net neutrality” debate played out.

Wheeler complained about Obama’s stance, according to The Post, and now word has leaked that the FCC won’t propose new rules until sometime next year rather than sometime in December. 

How fast with the FCC move?

“I want to move forward on open Internet rules with dispatch,” he said, according to the Post. “I also want to have open Internet rules that are sustained. And that’s the process we’re going through.”

So now the question becomes: How long will AT&T wait before it decides whether to end it’s “pause?”

Google’s Opening?

And what will Google do, especially here in RTP?

Google has already said it expects to make new fiber deployment announcements sometime before year’s end. And 2014 is almost over.

The NCNGN has said it will be patient with AT&T on network design and deployment, calling AT&T a “good partner.”

AT&T says it will continue to work with NCNGN in such areas as design.

But if the fiber won’t be dug anytime soon, what happens then?

Remember this: NCNGN and the entities involved (cities of Cary, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham) DID NOT sign exclusive contracts with AT&T.