03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

FCC Vote To Spur Telecom Lobbying

A unanimous vote yesterday by the Federal Communications Commission brought the Internet one step closer to government regulation -- a move that has lobbyists for the telecom industry working overtime.

The FCC gave the go-ahead to consider net neutrality rules intended to prevent Internet service providers from giving preferential treatment to certain content and services, reports The Hill.

While application providers such as Google, Amazon, Skype and Facebook treat all traffic equally and are backing the proposed rules, wireless services providers such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T are more wary.

The vote kicks off a lengthy rule-drafting process that will provide ample time for the service providers to voice their arguments.

AT&T has encouraged its employees to join the lobbying fray, sending letters to its U.S. managers urging them and their families and friends to post to the in opposition to the rules, reports the Associated Press.

AT&T spokesman Michael Balmoris told the AP that the letter was only meant to provide information to employees and "it was up to them to respond personally."

Critics of the proposal, including a growing number of lawmakers, claim the rules could quell investment in broadband technology.

Verizon released a statement yesterday addressing the vote:

The Internet ecosystem is serving consumers very well, and there is no problem that requires government regulation," said Tom Tauke, Verizon's executive vice president for public affairs."