Despite the fact that he is a senator, Marco Rubio isn’t known for introducing — or even voting for — much Senate legislation. In fact, the GOP presidential candidate from Florida missed 30 percent of the votes in 2015. He has better things to do with his time, like courting donors and fighting for the weakest among us: big telecom companies.
In a rare show of congressional might, the senator wrote a letter to the FCC in support of AT&T, Cox Communications, Comcast, and other major broadband providers who want to restrict local municipalities from offering their residents cheap, high-speed internet.
Couched in terms of protecting the private sector, Rubio’s letter says,“The FCC should not be in the business of choosing winners and losers in the competitive broadband marketplace.”
The idea that the FCC is doling out unfair advantages to municipal providers is ironic, given that one of Rubio’s primary campaign donors is AT&T lobbyist Scott Weaver, who is closely linked to the law firm fighting municipal broadband.
This legal skirmish underscores an intensifying fight for local internet hubs that can bypass the offerings of telecom giants, many of which are embarrassingly slow and expensive. Both North Carolina and Tennesseehave filed lawsuits on behalf of publicly funded internet services. Meanwhile, corporate lobbyists for big telecom companies like AT&T, Comcast, and T-Mobile are targeting state attorney generals — even offering them money to help influence a future FCC ruling.
Cities are not backing down. As reported by The Intercept,
“In Chattanooga, for instance, city officials set up a service known as ‘The Gig,’ a municipal broadband network that provides data transfers at one gigabit per second for less than $70 a month — a rate that is 50 times faster than the average speed American customers have available through private broadband networks.”
In response to such actions, the telecommunications industry has used a compromised agency, the American Legislative Exchange Council, to influence state governments, which can overrule cities that wish to use municipal broadband.
Apparently, the big telecom companies also have Marco Rubio on their side. According to OpenSecrets.org, Rubio’s current fundraising manager is AT&T lobbyist, Cesar Conda.