San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced Thursday that he has submitted his resignation from a Federal Communications Commission board he was serving on due to "the pervasive and overwhelming influence of big telecom and industry," according to a mayor's office representative.
Liccardo joined the Broadband and Deployment Advisory Committee as a part of the FCC in order to discuss expanding broadband access to the public.
However, Liccardo said in a statement that he feels the outcomes of the committee's actions are predetermined due to many of the other representatives' connections to wireless and cable corporations and their allies.
"It has become abundantly clear that Chairman (Ajit) Pai and the FCC merely pay lip service to the goal of digital equity, and this body will simply serve to further the interests of the telecommunications industry over the public interest," Liccardo said.
Liccardo was the only original city representative on the committee to start, but after highlighting the issue and gaining media coverage as well as letters of support from municipal leaders and members of Congress, two more city representatives were appointed.
According to Liccardo's office, a single industry representative completely rewrote a draft of a municipal code during the holiday break after nine months of deliberation. This left municipal representatives scrambling to vet hundreds of changes in a short amount of time.
The rewritten draft echoed sentiments of legislation that the industry pushed in 20 states across the country, according to the mayor's office.
The committee's participants were instructed to keep the documents confidential, but the industry-minded representatives have allegedly shared drafts with more than 70 of their member companies prior to providing a copy to the general public.
The discussion among participants has primarily focused on fees and whether the industry or taxpayers should be footing the bill for the industry's infrastructure investments.
According to Liccardo's office, he supports deploying 5G, the next generation of wireless internet, but does not support taxpayer-subsidized pricing and the possibility of not addressing underserved poor and rural areas as promised.
"We must keep fighting to ensure that the growing benefits brought by broadband access reach all of our communities," Liccardo said. "With little hope of supportive policy emanating from the FCC, we are looking to Congress to come up with a solution and will do everything to support sensible legislation that puts the best interests of Americans first."