The line between consumer advocates and corporate sponsored "bridge builders" continues to blur. -
According to new data from The New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) and Criterion Economics, continued growth in the broadband industry could put a serious dent in unemployment numbers. As many as 1.2 million new jobs could result from an increase in broadband adoption over the next decade, proclaims the study
. It also notes that significant broadband investment could create a cumulative increase in gross domestic product of $179.7 billion by 2021.
By golly, that's simply fantastic, isn't it?
It's no great revelation that statistics and the research groups that release them usually are serving a greater agenda; and such tactics occur on both sides of the ILEC vs. CLEC debate. The former simply has deeper pockets with which to wage such information warfare. However the line between such policy groups and truly independent consumer groups is becoming less and less identifiable to the typical consumer.
The New Millennium Research Council is an 'independent' (a word used frequently in their self-description
) offshoot of Issue Dynamics. Issue Dynamics, according to their website, is a "consulting firm specializing in public affairs and relationship-management services". The company's list of clients
is lengthy, but their largest contributers are SBC and Verizon. The group has been under heavy fire
recently for working behind the scenes seemingly in support of grass-roots activism, while really serving the call of their most powerful telco clients.
Recent protests in NYC supporting liquidation of Worldcom/MCI's assets were in part organized by Issue Dynamics, according to the Washington Post
. The majority of the bells would like nothing better than to squash MCI's potential rebuilding, and critics once again charge that Issue Dynamics is hiding behind public interest groups and failing to make their true motivation (and sources of income) clear.
The group frequently funds consumer group protests and advertisements, but often fails to disclose the source of the funds. Charles Lewis, the executive director of the Center for Public Integrity has long argued that Issue Dynamics should be more forthcoming in disclosing their presence behind the scenes. "These are people who are trying to influence the public debate and also the legislative process, and they have an obligation to do so in the light of day,"
Gene Kimmelman of the Consumer's Union likewise has raised questions about Issue Dynamic's tactics, noting that the integrity of ID president Samuel Simon "is suspect due to his failure to disclose his funding."
Simon recently wrote a response
to the Washington Post article defending the company's integrity, claiming, in essence, that any such criticism is simply a Worldcom misdirection ploy. Simon insists his company exists simply to "build bridges between organizations on public interest issues."
As the bells rev up their legal machinery to combat the FCC Triennial review, they continue to insist that regulation blocks the path to future widespread broadband deployments. An offshoot of Issue Dynamics releases a study proclaiming how broadband could be the cure-all for the country's economic woes. If there's no deregulation the subtext cries out, then there'll be little of this promised economic improvement and no jobs.
According to Criterion Economics Senior Vice President Hal Singer, the study "documents quantitatively what many others have only hinted at qualitatively. The 1.2 million jobs reflect the economy-wide stimulus that results from telephone and cable industries competing to roll out DSL and cable modem service, and gradually to roll out advanced broadband service to residential and small business customers, assuming they were constrained only by consumer demand and underlying costs."
Only hindered by consumer demand and costs and not by REGULATION, right Hal? (Nudge, nudge) Hal's press release gets picked up by the news wires, consumers get excited over broadband's potential after reading a regurgitated USA Today breakdown of said release, and Hal's clients
certainly get their money's worth.