Susan Crawford has 'sympathy' for the FCC chairman, she says

"Those public advocates are under-resourced and under-recognized. So they get a lot of lip service from the policy-makers, who will say, 'Well, we've heard from Group X or Group Y, and we considered their arguments,' and then they dismiss them," she said.

She also said public processes at the FCC fail to get input from stakeholders beyond the activist groups.

"There are hundreds of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs and even rock-ribbed Republicans who we would think would be quite upset about the absence of a level playing field for network access, and they aren't being mobilized. They aren't connected to those public-advocacy groups," she said.

A net-neutrality policy proposal that Google and Verizon issued in August was instructive about the state of play in Washington, according to Crawford.

"It shows what it's like to operate in D.C," she said. "Stakeholders play incredibly important roles."

"It's sort of appalling, actually, to think that a couple of companies can frame what the policy bullet points are going to be for the entire country. But it's quite realistic. That is what it feels like when you're inside," she said.