Internet service providers spent over $80 million on lobbying in 2018

Internet service providers spent over $80 million on lobbying in 2018
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Internet service providers in the U.S. spent more than $80 million on lobbying collectively in 2018, making it the biggest lobbying year so far for the industry, according to a Comparitech report.

AT&T spent the most on lobbying, which was more than $15.8 million. Comcast spent more than $15 million and Verizon spent just under $10.5 million.

Charter Communications, T-Mobile, Cox Enterprises, CenturyLink, Sprint, América Móvil, DISH and Ligado Networks all spent more than $1 million on lobbying in 2018.

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AT&T was the 10th top spender on lobbying overall in 2018, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Comcast was the 12th top spender. No other internet service provider made the top 20 spenders list.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is first on the lobbying list at $94.8 million, followed by the National Association of Realtors at more than $72.8 million and the Open Society Policy Center at more than $31.5 million.

Internet service providers' lobbying efforts have increased with the debate over the Obama-era net neutrality rules, which were approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015. The regulations prohibited internet service providers from blocking and throttling content and from charging for speed.

A commission voted to repeal the rules in December 2017. Consumer groups subsequently sued to reinstate the Obama-era rules, and there could be a decision as soon as this summer. 

When Democrats took over the House, they passed legislation to reinstate the rules in March but Senate GOP leadership has no intention of taking up the bill.

Internet service providers' total lobbying spending has not been below $72 million since 2011, the report found. Since 1998, AT&T has spent $341 million total on lobbying, Verizon has spent $265 million, and Comcast has spent $200 million.

Comparitech is a pro-consumer website that researches and compares tech services in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.