Why Does Rep. Marsha Blackburn Want To Block You From Having Competitive Broadband?

from the speak-up-now dept

There were rumors yesterday of a few ridiculous and extreme attempts by some in Congress to attach some anti-net neutrality amendments to the big Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. And while the most ridiculous proposal failed to appear, instead, it does appear that Rep. Marsha Blackburn is pushing an amendment to block the FCC from preempting laws that ban municipal broadband. The big cable companies have fought municipal broadband for ages because they hate competition. Cable and telco lobbyists have succeeded in getting such laws passed in a number of cities and states, with some politicians directly admitting that the bills were written by those lobbyists. And while there have been some disasters in munibroadband efforts, there have also been some amazing successes, providing truly competitive broadband that also helped force competitors to up their game.

That’s why we were happy to see FCC chair Tom Wheeler make it clear that he was willing to use the FCC’s powers to preempt laws blocking competitive broadband. This would be a very good use of the FCC’s power to encourage real competition and innovation. Blackburn’s amendment is all about stopping that, and making sure that your broadband is as expensive as possible, with no real innovation or competition on the way. Blackburn, of course, is also the politician who constantly screams about how terrible it would be to “regulate the internet” when it comes to net neutrality, but seems to have no qualms at all “regulating the internet” when it comes to other things, like SOPA (she was one of its main supporters). She’s also claimed that “fair use” and “transparency” are just buzz words and that we need much stricter intellectual property enforcement.

But when it comes to actually making sure you have a competitive broadband market? She’s totally against that. You would think, given that she’s from Tennessee, that she’d be aware of the massive success of muni fiber over in Chattanooga. It’s not her district, but it’s not too far away. Perhaps she should take a visit and see if the residents there would support her stomping out competition and fast broadband.

Blackburn’s amendment is to be voted on today, so groups like EFF, Public Knowledge and Free Press are urging folks call Congress to oppose Blackburn’s latest bad idea.

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Comments on “Why Does Rep. Marsha Blackburn Want To Block You From Having Competitive Broadband?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

I think anyone who tries to sneak something in like this should be fired immediately.
There’s no good reason to try and sneak a bill.
If it doesn’t have enough legs to stand on its own that it has to be snuck through, it’s obviously a bad bill.

Also, lobbyists have no business writing bills. Period.

Anonymous Coward says:

At the heart of all these efforts to remove net-neutrality, and prevent broadband only competitors is the other business of cable companies. They are desperate to stop the Internet from decimating their cable TV subscriptions. Also, when viewed in this light, broadband caps make sense, as a way of preventing broadband providing all the viewing that their customers want.

MondoGordo (profile) says:

Re: Help me understand

In short … Title II of the telecommunications act covers the regulation of telecommunication services (like telephone) … and the FCC has a lot of power under Title II to regulate providers. Internet service providers are currently classified as information services, not telecommunications providers, and are not subject to title II provisions.

MondoGordo (profile) says:

probably has something to do with this

As reported by ArsTechnica…

Blackburn received $10,000 from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association this year and last year, according to OpenSecrets.org. She received $12,500 in contributions from Verizon, $10,000 from AT&T, $7,500 from Comcast, and $7,000 from representatives of Time Warner Cable. (These donations come from the companies’ political action committees, employees, or owners.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Corruption at it’s finest. The whole passel in Washington that are eat up with this corruption need to go. Not just the Repubs, not just the Dems; all of them.

Remove the money from politics and show them the voters are serious they get their house in order (congress as a whole) or they don’t have a job. Hold each congress critter responsible by the laws already on the books, and this country would change in a matter of months as far as it’s atmosphere goes.

Till we the voters get serious, none of this will change.

Anonymous Coward says:

politicians love money

Blackburn’s past actions are perfect examples of having people in power that don’t understand issues/technology, have major funding sources that tell them what to do (almost bribery but still legal in the US), and are disconnected from the real constituents they “represent”.

Politicians like Blackburn work for the people that scream the loudest and have the most money. Unfortunately the mechanism to keep representatives in line and doing their job (removal from office) is time and resource intensive enough that people don’t generally kick someone out of office.

What might be a good solution instead is to tie a politician’s pension to a vote by their constituents at the end of their tenure. If the people feel the person did a good enough job then they keep their pension otherwise they get no pension.

Anonymous Coward says:

You know would be significantly useful for these calls to action to include? Equally or more so than contact information for our representatives? What the number of the amendment we want them to vote no on is.

H.R.5016 is the appropriations bill for FY2015:


It has a a number of proposed amendments, including several by Marsha Blackburn.

I’m assuming the one talked about in this case is H.Amdt.1093 to H.R.5016:


It’s much more clear, and straightforward to be able to call and tell them to “Vote NO on H.Amdt xxxx proposed by Rep. X, because…” than it is to tell them to vote NO on the amendment that…”

Anonymous Coward says:

You want to know why?

Top 20 Contributors, 2013-2014

2) Curb Records – $10,400
4) AT&T Inc – $10,000
4) National Cable & Telecommunications Association – $10,000
4) Verizon Communications – $10,000
14) Koch Industries – $8,000
14) Northrop Grumman – $8,000

Top Industries, 2013-2014

4) TV/Movies/Music – $64,650
12) Telephone Utilities – $26,000
18) Computers/Internet – $20,000
18) Electric Utilities – $20,000

tommygilley (profile) says:

US Broadband Speeds

The US broadband speeds will never be in excess of what the Intelligence community can monitor through their systems. If the NSA had to build a west coast center because the amount of data was a burden for them to transmit across the continent at current speeds, imagine the amount of trouble they would have if everyone was at 1 gb speeds. The data would choke their systems, therefore 1 gb speeds are 1 off situations which consumers don’t really want anyway.

Whatever (profile) says:

she’d be aware of the massive success of muni fiber over in Chattanooga.

Of course, you know that plenty of muni fiber and internet setups have failed, including some pretty big mistakes made along the way.

I know this source isn’t all that good, but it’s got some breadcrumbs to the real stories:


The other question is this: most municipalities have major issues just to keep their street lights on and the roads paved. Can you imagine them trying to run a network? They can’t, they know it, and they turn around and try to sub it out to third party companies who generally seem to want to just take the money and run.

If you want the most expensive, least effective internet possible, let the government run it.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The other question is this: most municipalities have major issues just to keep their street lights on and the roads paved.

Citation? That may be true for very small towns but from my visits to the US this is not true. A few problems in the roads and some lights out doesn’t mean they are failing at it. Heck, even here in Brazil what you said is only true for a portion of the municipalities.

If you want the most expensive, least effective internet possible, let the government run it.

Not if the Government is just one of the competitors. And there are a few facts (places where it worked wonders) that prove you wrong. Sure there are colossal flops but they are hardly the majority.

Regardless, even if everything you said is 100% true there shouldn’t be any law forbidding them from trying.

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