Post Tech: AT&T, Verizon ramped up lobbying in Q1

By Cecilia Kang
Wednesday, April 21, 2010; 3:49 PM

AT&T and Verizon Communications opened a firehose of spending for lobbying in the first quarter to push their positions on net neutrality, the national broadband plan and a range of consumer-related issues including early termination fees and exclusive handset deals.

AT&T spent $5.93 million to lobby lawmakers and federal regulators in the first quarter, an increase of 15 percent from the same period last year. Verizon Communications spent $4.72 million in the first quarter, up 26 percent from the previous year. Figures for Verizon Wireless had not been submitted by the time this post was published.

Comcast spent $3.07 million to make its case against new net neutrality rules, but also to promote its proposed merger with NBC Universal to lawmakers and regulators who are reviewing the deal. That figure was down from the fourth quarter of 2009, when it spent $3.48 milion, but up from $2.76 million a year earlier.

AT&T and Verizon's spending far outpaced that of other well-known tech companies, including Google, which spent $1.38 million in the same quarter. Microsoft spent $1.72 million during the first quarter and Facebook spent $41,000.

It was a busy quarter for both AT&T and Verizon. AT&T, for example, lobbied on about 50 telecommunications-related issues.

Specifically, AT&T and Verizon pushed their positions with regulators and lawmakers on bills and proposed rules related to net neutrality ¿ which both companies oppose. In the first quarter, the FCC released its national broadband plan, which contained more than five dozen policy proposals. The telecom giants opposed proposals such as line sharing for small businesses but pushed for more federal spectrum to be allocated for mobile broadband.

Analysts expect the telecom and cable giants will continue to ramp up lobbying efforts for the rest of the year as the FCC deals with questions over a reclassification of broadband services ¿ another idea the companies oppose. They have also increased their efforts at the FCC on specific policies related to the national broadband plan.

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