Marco Rubio Blasts FCC for Supporting Local Gov’t Broadband Services Competing with Big Internet Providers

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has signed off on a letter to the FCC in support of states blocking municipal broadband services.

Local government-operated Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can offer their citizens faster, cheaper broadband than privately owned mega-providers. But major telecom companies including AT&T, Comcast, and Cox Communications continue to lobby for municipal ISP restrictions.

Claiming “serious concern” that with the FCC’s support of municipal broadband services the Federal Trade Commission is “promoting government-owned networks at the possible expense of private sector broadband providers,” Rubio and seven other Republican senators are vocalizing the plight of the telecom companies that risk their profits being vastly undercut by a local government’s ISP alternatives.

The argument being made is that the FCC is overreaching by attempting to interfere with local or state decisions regarding the services available to residents. It’s worth noting that Rubio’s presidential campaign has received significant funding from AT&T lobbyist Scott Weaver, co-chair of Wiley Rein, a law firm involved in the litigation against the FCC in the issue.

In February 2015, the FCC overruled laws in two of 19 states with municipal broadband restrictions. This, for instance, allowed citizens of Chattanooga, Tennessee access to “The Gig,” an ISP set up by city officials that offered internet rates 50 times faster than the average speed available to customers of private broadband providers, for less than $70 per month.

With big name services like Verizon and Time Warner Cable failing to deliver the level of service they’re advertising and attempting to slight some of the most popular online services to grab a payout, it’s no surprise that local municipalities are trying to explore other options. The question being asked is whether the FCC should be allowed the authority to make those decisions.

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