The amount of funds being spent on political contributions by cable and phone companies shows their distaste regarding the extension of regulatory oversight by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in view of access to broadband internet.
A letter was sent to FCC’s chairman, Julius Genachowski demanding that a single legislation be passed rather than bridging their oversight authority into broadband from telecommunications networks. This letter was sent last month by the House with the approval of 74 democrats. Its objective is to ensure the FCC holds back from taking a decision on a proposal predicted to have adverse effects on crucial broadband investments and other jobs related with it.
Similarly, the largest organizations in the country dealing with broadband and two other organizations, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are known to have sent similar messages. It was stated that Comcast warned that this move by FCC could place innovation and investment on a slow track. 58 out of the 74 lawmakers have received their 20 top campaign donations from communications executives and action committees on political matters.
Further resistance from members of Congress is expected as the F.C.C. goes on with its arrangement to control broadband access.
As of May 16, political donations from AT&T in the present election cycle, is estimated to be $2.6 million and is on course to surpass the total in each of the preceding three elections. Each Republican and all except three Democrats that are members of the subcommittee that handles the Internet in the House Energy and Commerce Committee have all received donations from the company for their election campaigns. More than half the members of the equivalent Senate panel have also received money from them too.
Comcast has already parted with over $2 million as campaign donations while Verizon has contributed about $1.2 million. The lobbying group for the industry, which is the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, has contributed another $1 million. An estimated $20.6 million has been spent by cable and telephone companies in the year’s first three months to lobby the government. Many see this as enough proof that the government’s policy making system is corrupt.
On campaign donations, more than $2 million has been given out by Comcast; Verizon has given out $1.2 million. The industry’s collective lobbying group, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association has given out about $1 million more. The $20.6 million used by telephone and cable companies in lobbying the government in the first three months of the year should convince people enough about the corruptions of government policies.
It was stated by The Sunlight Foundation, a body that follows industry lobbying, that cable and phone companies had 276 former officials of the government lobbying for them in the first quarter. 18 former members of Congress and 48 former staffers of present members of Congress on committees with jurisdiction over the Internet are among these official. At least six former staffers of the House Democrats who signed the letter to the F.C.C are also included.
In order to be assured of an open, nondiscriminatory and competitive access and to defend consumers’ rights, the Federal Communications Commission must expand its oversight to include broadband. We should remember that broadband technology is the biggest and most significant telecommunications network of our generation. It is also the future of communication in the world.
The F.C.C. will surely encounter a lot of difficulty in achieving this. This is because sometimes money might becloud one’s sense of reasoning especially if you are a politician in Washington.