AntiMuniWiFi Lobbying Gains National Attention

23 Jun ’05

Both the WSJ (paid sub required – rats) and Forbes (ditto) are running stories covering the effort that telcos are making in the U.S. to block local governments from subsidizing or establishing municipal wi-fi networks, even where the telcos do not provide broadband. This is an issue that this blog has frequently covered, most recently here. Interesting quote from the WSJ article, out of many, is on U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, who introduced the Orwellian-named “Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005,” which seeks to prohibit local governments or “any entity affiliated with such a government” from providing telecommunications service in any area where a corporation offers “a substantially similar service.” (Because, you know, granting a couple of telcos a monopoly is “preserving innovation”.)

“I don’t think governments should be in these businesses,” Mr. Sessions says in an interview. “That’s not their core business.”

Mr. Sessions worked at Southwestern Bell, SBC’s predecessor, for 16 years. His wife still works for SBC. During his eight years in Congress, SBC’s political-action committee, its employees and their families collectively have been his second-largest source of campaign contributions, donating a total of $75,346, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington research group. Guy Harrison, Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff, says the congressman’s ties to SBC do not present a conflict of interest.

Via Bill Gurley.

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