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Verizon Seeks To Nix Fee-Based Municipal Wireless Grids 286

Posted by timothy
from the evian-sues-local-over-city-water dept.
millermp writes "It looks like Verizon has succeeded in banning municipal WiFi networks in Pennsylvania. Since Verizon is looking to broadband service to fuel its growth, it calls municipal WiFi 'unfair competition.' This bill is following similar legislation earlier this year in Utah, Louisiana, and Florida." The bill has yet to be signed by Pennsylvania's governor, and as the story says, does not ban municipal wireless per se, but would place great restrictions on how it could be funded.
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Verizon Seeks To Nix Fee-Based Municipal Wireless Grids

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  • More Harm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:45PM (#10905727) Homepage
    I failed to see how this Bill, if passed, can help Verizon.

    If the intention is to help poor residents to gain internet access as stated, the city may just offer the service for free, and makes up the costs from potential economic growth, maybe?

    Otherwise, if this service is privatized, Verizon may face even more aggressive competition from the new WiFi operator, whose interest won't not be confined to just poorer neighborhoods and less densely populated ones.
    • Re:More Harm (Score:2, Interesting)

      Ha ha. You said 'economic growth' in describing Philadelphia?
      They didn't get cable until almost 1990 and they prevented RCN [rcn.com] from laying wire so as to protect comcast, ultimately bankrupting RCN.

      The democrats that run Philly are looking for kickbacks and concessions. That's all this is about. It has nothing to do with 'poor residents', despite the rhetoric.
      If they could pick up trash, I would be a little more accomodating, but they suck.

      Verizon just doesn't want to compete against the people who a.) wri
  • Funding? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SultanCemil (722533) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:46PM (#10905732)
    How can they possibly seek to stop a community funded effort to set up a wireless network on public property? This seems absurd, even for Verizon.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Fine, then there should be a section in the law to *mandate* competetion rather than sweetheart deals to allow local monopolies like they have with phone service.
    • by rewt66 (738525) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:11PM (#10905919)
      Or maybe, at a minimum, something like, "Fine, if you will roll out broadband into that area within one year of when we propose our wireless network, then we won't do the wireless. Otherwise, we're not in competition with you anyway, so get lost."

      Except said in legislature-speak, of course.
  • I would think... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john.oyler@NOspAm.comcast.net> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:47PM (#10905742) Journal
    That the criteria for whether or not to do wifi, would be:

    "does this help the residents of the state recieve a service they desire, without asking too much of them in tax".

    Instead of:

    "does this hurt a crappy regional monopoly wring more cash from customer's wallet, or does it hurt that holy quest for profit".

    Then again, I'm not a politician.
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:22PM (#10905990) Homepage Journal
      The problem I have with city, county, or state provided wireless is that not everyone needs the service.

      Combine this with the fact that with a government group running it you will run afoul of all sorts of special groups demanding free access let alone those imposing their views on what is and what is not acceptable.

      Don't think so, its not hard to shop for courts that favor one view or another.

      Think about it, the first whine will be "Its for the children", then comes "they are a disenfranchised group", followed by "well of course group X should get a free ride". Until you finally have yet another government program sucking dollars out of your pocket to buy votes.

      Corporations may not have your intrest in mind but at least they are an equal opportunity screw. I don't need another "airport" - as in - lets stick all of our cronies into that service to draw fat checks and provide no work other than being a crony.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        What a completely cynnical look at community based wifi. In your scenario there is no chance or even possibility that community wifi could succeed. You'd rather be screwed by a corporation than allow your local government to attempt to help its poorest citizens? If community run wifi runs amock, it is your duty and right as a citizen to lobby to correct the problem. You have avenues to correct the problems you see in the system. Instead, you'd rather a private corporation have an utter monopoly over a
      • by NardofDoom (821951) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @12:17AM (#10906668)
        This is why I prefer a local cooperative that is mandated by the government not to make a profit; that anything over expenses is voted on by its members as to its use (refund, reinvestment). It's worked for credit unions. Where else could a 23 year old get a $5,000 line of credit witha 9.9% fixed interest rate, and free bill pay and internet banking?
      • I can see your point of view, and while it's true for a great many services and products, does it really apply to ubiquitous wifi network access?

        I mean, it doesn't apply to roads, most people (though not some libertarians) agree that we should all be taxed as fairly as possible, and that the state and local governments should take care of building and maintaining roads. Roads can't be the only thing that should fall into that category, so it's only a matter of where the line is drawn.
        • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @01:27AM (#10906972)
          It's a fallacy to think that, just because one doesn't own a car that one doesn't benefit from the highway system. Unless, of course, you live out in the boonies and are completely self-sufficient and would never buy or use anything that was shipped by road or had any raw materials that were shipped by road.

          Same with the Internet. We all benefit by the Internet and what it has done to business efficiency, whether we personally have Internet access in our homes, or not.
          • That excuse has been used since the beginning of time to justify anything government does: because it benefits "society as a whole".

            You're not on to anything new here. This is the oldest line in the book of government (how to rule a people): tell them it's for "society as a whole".

            The war on Iraq and its tens of thousands of civilian deaths benefits "society as a whole", right? Bush's religious charity program benefits society as a whole, right? Social security benefits society as a whole, right?

            When the
      • by wing03 (654457) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @12:43AM (#10906796)
        Until you finally have yet another government program sucking dollars out of your pocket to buy votes

        Corporations may not have your intrest in mind but at least they are an equal opportunity screw

        After reading this and seeing similar comments on many different issues over the last year or so, I feel compelled to ask a question.

        Let me frame this by stating that I'm Canadian and thus see nothing wrong with government taking initiative to dump money into new industries to at least start it off and have government in control of (i.e. running or heavily regulating) essential services.

        The question is this... Why is it that in America, the private sector is placed on such a high pedastal?

        I figure that looking to find the least common denominator of methods to provide a service or product for the population amounts to only an "equal opportunity screw" just seems totally cynical, wrong and scary to me.

        I was reading someone else's take about the American mentality on health care and saw it summed up as something that individuals feel personally responsible for and would feel intruded if it became the government's domain. A friend from school was telling of a guy she dated from SC who felt that public transit was a government handout for the poor and lazy.

        Is this just survival of the fittest in action? And if so, why do people let private industry run to the government for protection from such things like a community based wi-fi network? It might as well be SCO/MS/etc getting legislators to slap a tax on Linux/BSD and all OSS to 'even the playing field.'...
        • Why is it that in America, the private sector is placed on such a high pedastal?

          There are really two factors that help explain this phenomenon. One is the 'Horatio Alger Myth' which posits that in America anyone can strike it rich if they combine a strong work ethic with a frugal lifestyle. This demonstrably false belief permeates our society, and gives rise to a school of thought where wealth is equal to morality (If you're rich you must have worked hard and spent your money wisely)

          The second factor i
          • by Jardine (398197) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @02:01AM (#10907084) Homepage
            There are really two factors that help explain this phenomenon.

            I think you're missing a third factor. The current generation in power was raised in the belief that if the Communists did it, then America should do the opposite. Americans (in general) have an attitude that everything is black and white. Middle ground is not an option because there is no middle ground.
          • Well, that, and there are a fair amount of us who have an honest, well-thought-out and principled opinion that government has no businesses poking into most areas of life. For every program government supports, it has to take cash from the governed - and many of us feel its abusive for the soveriegn power, the people with the guns and the jails, to play robbin hood like that. We don't want to pay toward programs we don't support, and don't want other people paying toward programs THEY don't support.

            I, pers
    • What the Pennsylvania state legislature should do is look for ways to provide incentives for private citizens to create private sector competition. With this plan you aren't getting "crappy monopoly versus cheap municipal wifi" perse. What you are getting is "crappy corporate monopoly versus probably very crappy, restricted state monopoly." You are basically getting two large entities which really don't have your interests at heart to fight it out, in the end it'll probably be the government that wins and y
    • And I would think the criteria should be: "can private industry provide this service in a more economical way for those that desire to use it, without increasing taxes on those that don't wish to use it, nor giving free access to those that don't pay for it?"

      Then again, that kind of talk doesn't let politicians buy votes.
  • How long... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoraLives (622001) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:50PM (#10905759)
    before the book publishers and other media producers successfully lobby to have public funding for libraries choked off?
  • by DARKFORCE123 (525408) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:51PM (#10905762)
    Community : Please Verizon roll out your high speed internet services for us.
    Verizon : I'm sorry . Your current community doesn't have a sufficient return on investment for us to build a high speed network in your area.
    Community : Fine . Then we will have a community funded wireless network which is easily available with today's technology.
    Verizon : No, you cannot do this!
    Community : Why not ? You said you didn't want to invest in infrastructure in our community or that it would take 7-10 years even if you decide to do something.
    Verizon : Well .... Well .... Because!
    • What's worse (Score:5, Interesting)

      by John Seminal (698722) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:02PM (#10905850) Journal
      Often the places that don't get broadband are the poorest. When @home started offering broadband service in my area, a pal who lived 15 miles away saw how much better it was then dial-up so he called to get it too. They said it was not available in his area. Years have passed and they have not offered it.

      I love the idea of a town saying we want to provide this service, and we can do it for a fraction of the cost. It reminds me of my college housing, where the collective purchase power of all the apartments was leveraged by the owner of the property to get us satelite tv for a few bucks a month, something like 80% off the normal price.

    • by mordors9 (665662) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:33PM (#10906053)
      Perhaps it is time for another program akin to the Rural Electrification Program in the country. The Federal Government will aid in providing broad band access in areas where it is not currently available. The arguments being made by Verizon were made back in the 1930's as well by the electrical companies. http://newdeal.feri.org/tva/tva10.htm
      • And telephone as well, hundreds of Rural Telephone Co-ops are in the US because Ma Bell and/or GTE didn't want to provide service to small rural markets, like mine. Government subsidized loans to start, co-operative ownership, and now, the very best in services. We [scrtc.com] have a DSL, video, and Dial tone service that covers most of our service area (and we are expanding, dropping DSL heads every 12000' takes time), 80/month for 768/384, digital cable and landline phone is pretty good, plus you get a dividend check on any profits made by the phone company, I love it.
  • Why not compete? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cfulmer (3166)
    I don't see any reason why the government should take a bunch of money out of my pocket to do a lousy job at providing a service that private industry could do.

    In the long run, if there's competition in the market, service qualities will go up and prices will go down. A government monopoly funded by tax dollars will give government style service with no incentive to keep costs down.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      you may think differently if you are in a rural area considered not a profitable investment for a large company like Verizon to build a high-speed internet infastructure. Companies will not move into a rural area unless they expect some kind of return.

      Such wi-fi networks will further connect those to the internet who cannot stand the dial-up speeds on an internet geared towards those with highspeed. There will be no such competition in any small town so don't expect to see verizon or other internet compa
      • by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
        Such a rural area will not have the tax income, nor the density to set up something like this.

        If it's not cost effective for Verizon, how is it cost effective for the local government?

    • Re:Why not compete? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Charcharodon (611187) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:05PM (#10905873)
      Yeah that is true, but that's the problem the private industry doesn't always want to provide the service. Most of these towns doing this are small podunk towns that won't see broadband within the next decade in any shape or form.

      The privates shouldn't have any say in what people want to do locally especially when economic growth hinges on being able to provide some sort of broadband access these days.

      It's like saying to the locals "no you can't have cars because Mobile doesn't want to put in a gas station in their town."

      • by cfulmer (3166)
        I don't think the telecom companies would be opposed if it were about small towns where they don't want to provide the service -- the main impetus for this is Philadephia's plan to cover the city with wifi. (For those on the West Coast, Philly is the largest city in PA.)

        THe other problem is that this isn't just cutting into some future service that one of the telcos wants to provide -- it will cut into service that they're already providing. They have to be concerned about people dropping their DSL or Ca
        • Re:Why not compete? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Charcharodon (611187) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:36PM (#10906072)
          This is true, but the telco's have been going after the small towns first since they don't have the resources (the right politicians in their pockets) to fight off the legal challenges they'll use to set a precident to fight the larger cities and their rollouts.

          I'm just looking forward to the day when connecting to the internet means putting an advanced wifi antenna (if they can ever beat the routing problems) on your roof and using an ad-lib connection which uses other peoples antenas to span the distances, and forgo the monthly cost all together. A one time purchase of hardware to create a network that is self expanding and self upgrading.

    • by maximilln (654768)
      I don't see any reason why the government should take a bunch of money out of my pocket to do a lousy job at providing a service that private industry could do

      At least this time they would be doing something that you know about, so you could guestimate about what it would cost in equipment and administration to put it all together. It's just aps and routers. Access would be open if all the residents were on it so there'd be no need for encryption any stronger than what you use with a standard ISP. You
    • Re:Why not compete? (Score:4, Informative)

      by dfm3 (830843) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:56PM (#10906193) Journal
      if there's competition in the market, service qualities will go up and prices will go down. A government monopoly funded by tax dollars will give government style service with no incentive to keep costs down. (emphasis mine) Of course, the key here is competition in the market. Where I live, I would pay more than double for cable service than someone who lives across town, because two different providers have mini- monopolies in each area. Of course, we wanted to go with the cheaper provider (for basically the same level of service), but were told that we had no choice because of our location. Hmm... they have no competition in our neighborhood, so it seems that there is no incentive to keep costs down...
    • Broadband is not a freemarket model. You can't shop around for it since there are virtual monopolies. Do you want everyone digging up the streets every day and breaking water pipes ? How can anyone compare broadband to soup at the grocery store? You are not going to see the price drop enough for the poor to afford.

      Broadband is a communications network just like our government builds networks of roads that no private business would take on. Broadband and the internet should be public utilities.

      By the way ,
      • I currently have 3 choices for "broadband" internet to my home and possibly 3 more on the way.

        You don't need to have a dozen players in the market -- nobody would argue that the soda market isn't competitive, despite there only being a few major players, or that home improvement stores (2 major players in the US -- Home Depot and Lowes) aren't fiercely competitive.

        Presuming for a second that poor people need high speed internet in the same way that they need say food or shelter (a dubious proposition at b
  • by KillerDeathRobot (818062) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:52PM (#10905770) Homepage
    It's not fair that the government provides us free police force and firemen. The private companies can't compete and its killing the economy.
    • Ask your average homeowner if police and fire services are free.
    • Actually, Phoenix has one of the best fire companies in the nation and it's private by subscription. Also, don't forget all those volunteer fire companies in suburbs, small towns and rural areas. Their high level of service for the negligible price negates the need for most local governments to fund a fire company. Also, private security officers outnumber local police by five to one in this country. So, there is competition in providing police and fire services.

      My point here is not to make you "wrong"

    • It's not fair that the government provides us free schools and teachers. The private companies can't... oh. Wait. They've already been privatized: http://www.whafh.com/modules/case/index.php?action =view&id=198
    • Thank you for the perfect example of why government sucks. You only think those services are free and provided by the government because you don't pay the taxes that cover the cost!

      You're also implying that all police forces are government-based. False.

      Next you'll tell me the government provides us with free schooling. Ignore that I pay for it with my property taxes, and that I have no children attending those schools.

      Then you'll be telling me that government provides us with the ambulances that get you
      • Re:Free? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Suburbanpride (755823) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @11:13PM (#10906276)
        I got in a car accident about 6 years ago, and was fine except for a few bruises, although the car fliped end over end. I was aminor at the time, and the police forced me into an ambulance before my mom got there. The ride to the hospital was about 3 miles, and cost $1000. at the hospital, the hooked up an IV and put on a heart rate monitor in case of internal injuries and then all the docotrs and nurses went to lunch. Being bored, I decided to disconect my heart monitor to see what happen. I watched my line go flat, and no on e ever came. 30 minutes later, they decided they need to room, so they pulled out the IV and put me into waiting room while my mom signed the papers. the bill $5000.

        I also got a ticket for crossing the median, although the car was upside down when i crossed it.

        That was totaly off topic, but my point was that anyone without health insurance would be bankrupt in an accident like that. I would much rather see my taxes go to fund more public health efforts and lost cost interent than to subsidize big corporations.

        Governemnt is a nessecary evil. no cou.ld never get a private compnay to build higways or any other public infastructure without the price being prohibitve for most people.

  • by Dancin_Santa (265275) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:54PM (#10905786) Journal
    Just about any service offered by a government is going to put some private enterprise in a pinch by undercutting the private company's prices. Doesn't this show that the government can, in some rare cases, beat the market in pricing? How much more is Verizon planning on gouging customers than the market can bear?

    It sounds more like Verizon can't beat the competition with market prices, so they seek to put the competition out of business. Of course, the competition is actually the government, so Verizon is going to have a hell of a time trying to beat them.

    At the Federal level, the government should be responsible for very little. Protection of citizens, regulation of interstate/international commerce/etc. But on the local level, it is nice to have the community band together to solve local problems. Go Pennsylvania!
    • Yes, the govt can undercut a corporation on prices. They don't have to show a profit. They can provide the service at or below cost. Or even free.

      Of course, that means it is subsidised by the taxpayers. And as such, it stands far more chance of being regulated. The local equivalent of the FCC might be doing the filtering.

  • by adolfojp (730818) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:55PM (#10905796)
    It is a sad world to live in where you can get sued for giving away stuff for free.

    Whats next? Microsoft suing [insert favorite Linux distro here] because their free operating system is unfair competition to MS? Pharmaceutical companies suing a charity that gives away free vaccines to babies because then the people won't buy as many of the competing brand vaccines?

    ...oh wait! Shit like that already happens everywhere everyday.

    Cheers,
    Adolfo
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's not free. They are going to tax everyone to provide a service to a few. Thus we arrive at the inherit problem with government.
      • An AC writes "It's not free. They are going to tax everyone to provide a service to a few. Thus we arrive at the inherit problem with government."

        He saved me the time of typing it out myself and it's a Troll?

        It's not free.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I don't have any kids. Many of my neighbors don't either. Yet my property taxes pay for the local schools.

        Taxing all to give to a few is not a new phenomenon, nor is it necessarily a bad thing.
      • by mrbuttboy (460308) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:55PM (#10906186)
        Your right,everyone should only get what they can afford.Health care? Not my problem. Schools? Let the kids learn on their own. Fire? Call some friends to put it out. Another country invading you? Hire someone to help who is bigger.

        Governments WORK. Over 4000 years of history laugh at you for suggesting otherwise. You think it is pure CHANCE that governments tend to get bigger? Revolution is just another form of evolution.

        The question in this case is not about what is wrong with governments but where should governments spend the money they have. To me,building an infrastructure such as a completely wifi covered city, is something that has unknown future value but seems could very quickly end up benefiting a HUGE percentage of the population. But then I don't live in Philadelphia so what I like matters even less on how they spend their money.
      • Actually, this bill outlaws providing the service *for a fee*. So the net effect of the bill will be to *increase* the amount of tax money going to set the wireless up.

        Daniel
      • by Anonymous Coward
        They are hardly taxing everyone. They are taxing the people local to their area. It benefits the tax payers to provide this service to its poorest citizens because it enables those citizens an opporunity to be on an equal playing field with their richer neighbors. The community will become more equal, educated, and technologically knowledgeable.

        I guess you don't drive on any roads, nor do you rely on any sort of fire, police, or EMS protection whatsoever. People like you should be flogged whenever you
    • A pity you can't get a '+5 depressing' mod, 'cause that's what that really is.
    • Like how Microsoft was sued for giving away IE?
    • Free as in "nationalized for the good of the people," am I rite Comrade?

      Seriously. You have to understand that it is never the job of the government to compete with business when business or community can deliver a service. This was part of the reason that the Post Office was privatized. Where it used to be impractical for business to compete in delivery across the entire nation, it became possible with newer transportation technology, and so the government forced the post office to become self-sustaining

      • You have to understand

        If you want to write down a convincing argument, argue using reason, not your own prejudices. "Comrade?" Give me a break. The fact is that Verizon has a monopoly, which they have because they were granted it by the government. Does the municipal WiFi project compete unfairly? We can't tell. It's hopeless to try to sort it out at this late date.

        What we can tell is that Verizon is doing a *terrible* job of providing broadband to its customers. My father has been waiting
  • This is bad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Seminal (698722) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:56PM (#10905803) Journal
    This is a perfect example of how money should not mix with politics. Verizon gives money to candidates who then write bad laws.

    Politicians have a responsibility to the people they represent, not to making some CEO wealthy.

    So, if my small town decides they want to use their collective purchase power and set up a wi-fi, then Verizon feels threatened? Unfair competition? How? Verison could lower their fee and be more competitive.

  • by nysus (162232) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:58PM (#10905813)
    That one single person (because that's what corporations are under the law) can have so much power because they have money.
  • by laughingcoyote (762272) <barghesthowl@ex[ ]e.com ['cit' in gap]> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:58PM (#10905814) Journal

    As if we needed another example of how corporations like innovation only when they are profiting from it, and will not stand in its way only if it does not interfere with their business model. It is especially a shame to see that this is Verizon, who I almost had some respect for after they stood up for their subscribers' privacy against the RIAA.

    I've seen claims that the government-offered service would be inferior and too costly. If that's the case, Verizon has nothing to worry about-people will flock to them, and the government will kill off the project for lack of interest.

    On the other hand, if it is possible to set up an inexpensive, or free, wireless network, across a whole city, publicly funded or otherwise, this is an interesting idea which needs to be explored, not stifled to grant a favor to a massive corporation. If it's a bad idea, it'll die off quite nicely on its own.

    • As if we needed another example of how corporations like innovation only when they are profiting from it

      Oooooh! Online registration.

      You'll never find a device driver or get a technical support person as fast as they can kill your ability to play a video game these days.
  • Fiber to the home (Score:5, Informative)

    by chaffed (672859) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @09:59PM (#10905820) Homepage
    Meh, I'll just get verizon's fiber to the home service [verizon.com]. Then setup a Less Networks node [lessnetworks.com], roll my own NoCat Auth [nocat.net] AP or join one of the great Area Wide Wireless networks. [seattlewireless.net]

    Verizon is just a 500lb gorilla that can't see more than 2inches infront of its face!
  • Hey where's my (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    45mbit connection to my house that the state of PA gave major tax breaks to Verizon(then Bell Atlantic) for?

    Verizon screws PA and yet the legislative branch is still willing to bend over backwards for them.
  • It's pretty clear that government subsidized services like this do compete with the private sector, and there are good arguments that this sort of situation is anti competitive in ways that would never be allowed in the private sector (unless you are Microsoft or one of their friends). It will always seem cheaper and more consumer friendly to be able to get connectivity from your local telecom or power coop, but of course it still costs in the form of taxes. So, question: If big mega-corporations priced the
  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:09PM (#10905908) Homepage Journal
    I may be a little removed from my high school civics class, but a bill sitting on the governor's desk does not equal signed into law. Then, if Philly wants to, they can alweays challenge in the courts. One thing muinicipalities seem to have a lot of is government attorneys.
  • by tloh (451585) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:13PM (#10905930)
    Over the years, as Internet use has become ubiquidous, I have the erie sense of deja vu as I recall learing about how, in 1800's, the city of London was supplied by several different private water utilities. In 1849, Dr. John Snow published a landmark theory that implicated contaminated water supplies as the source of frequent cholera outbreaks. In hindsight, we can say the reason London (as well as other metro areas of the world at the time) was ravaged by epidemics like this has as much do to with the lack of public oversight over a public consumable as with medical/sanitation ignorance. To return to the subject at hand, how many problems would we solve by turning internet access into a public utility? I suppose some would chaf at such a thing out of concerns for privacy or freedom. But wouldn't it be great if *all* spammers and other net abusers are hit with penalties and fines as they would be if municipal laws are violated?
  • by suso (153703)
    They probably wouldn't seek to ban it if it worked to their advantage.
  • If ever there was a law that should be repealed preemptively, it's this one. As things are the law will go into effect, it will never be repealed, and wifi networks will cost easily 10x what they should, even considering gov't bloat and favoritism in contract bidding models.
  • Fee based services (Score:2, Informative)

    by Zackbass (457384)
    For those of you who didn't RTFA and got right to the misinforming posts, this is about fee-based services. To subscribe to the wireless service in Philly the article states that it will cost you $15-20 a month, which puts the issue in a different perspective.
    • by maximilln (654768)
      I didn't, and you're right. That means this is more like a new football or baseball stadium. It's taxpayer subsidized but the profits belong exclusively to the company...
  • by jonathanbutz (721096) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:19PM (#10905965)
    This bill only prevents government created agencies from charging fees for broadband.

    Nowhere does it prevent municipalities from offering public networks such as the one already deployed in Altoona, PA.

  • by gnat_x (713079) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:22PM (#10905989)
    Verizon is claiming that a project, namely the one in PA, but also similar low income community bandwidth projects, is competition?

    We are talking about areas,that mostly don't have high speed internet infrastructure. Why not? Because telecos haven't invested in poor urban neighborhoods. Why? No market.

    We are talking about communities of people who already *don't pay* for internet, Verizon and most other ISPs recognize that.

    I don't see how you can say there is no market for paid internet services, and then say that free interent services are competing.

    One more thing, try to use your overpriced verizon wireless in a poor urban neighborhood, like those in Philadelphia, you think it will work?

    I would say no. Verizon is trying to clamp down on the idea of free bandwidth. They are hiding behind the market making this a competition issue.

    Free and For Sale are indeed two different things.
  • I realise that this is probably going to get me beaten up, but why the hell is the city government planning on offering this service anyway? Surely the provision of broadband internet services for a fee is a job for a private company, not a job for the government.

    • I'm wondering why it hasn't been done already. We can buy wifi aps. It's easy to weatherproof them in a rubbermaid tub. Weld/bolt the weatherproof box to the top of a telephone in each local block. Configure the subnets, and go. It'd be a perfect automated ISP.

      If it hasn't been done already I'd say the corps are dragging their feet to milk traditional ISPs for all they're worth. Bills like this only seek to inhibit a people which is finally saying,"We've had enough of this already!"

      Typically, though
    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @11:19PM (#10906302) Homepage Journal
      For many things, what you say is exactly right. The problem is, there will always be small cases here and there that a true free market system simply fails.

      Some people think that having broadband helps economic prospects. If that is true, and that Verizon and the other ISPs can't provide it, why let that be an excuse to hold back other parts of economic progress?

      There are cities that provide utilities and happen to do them better than a for-profit company can do.
  • ... broadband is only in 20 percent [slashdot.org] of US households. Companies, in the pursuit of ever increasing profits for their CEO's and shareholders, are trying to keep customers paying through the nose for their products. Of course free wireless access would be unfair competition... from their perspective.
  • You sunk my business model! Send in the lobbiest
  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:51PM (#10906160) Journal
    Verizon SUCKS. I have ordered and prequalified for DSL 7 times, yet I am unable to get it because Verizon has almost halted the DSL rollout in Texas.

  • by vivian (156520) on Tuesday November 23, 2004 @10:55PM (#10906187)
    The problem with privately owned networks is that it is often impractical at best, or very wasteful at worst to roll out two networks. This means that if the network is privatised, there exists either small pockets of monopolies, with one company having exclusive control over a section of network, or wasteful duplication in profitable areas, at the expense of less profitable areas, such as has happened in many cities with broadband available from both cable and adsl, yet poorer/more distant areas remain out of range for either service.

    Physical infrastructure for networks should always be publicly owned. This isn't to say that the services running on them should be publicly owned.

    Eg. Roads. It is much more efficient for roads to be in the hands of a public entity that maintains them for the use of all services that run on them. In the case of roads, you can have both privately owned and publicly owned "services" running on them - for example, busses and cars can be privately owned for both personal use and to provide services such as fedex, public transport and emergency services. In the case of roads, if they were privatised, it would be extremly impractical for a competitor to start up a new road network that serviced the same area as an existing road network - apart from the cost, it would be very wasteful of resources.

    Ideally, I think that TCP/IP networks should be the same as roads. The fundamental infrastructure, ie. the wires/airwaves should be in the hands of public non-profit entities, with private companies running their services on top of that, and paying a fee for usage in much the same way that you pay registration fees/fuel tax to pay for roads. Note that it is the actual transport medium I am refering to that should be in public hands - not those other neccesary components to complete the system. The roads and stoplights if you will, not the vehicles and petrol stations.

    This would mean that the basic infrastructure is not monopolised by any one company, and in the case of wireless technologies, there is no wasteful competition for the limited spectrum.
    The public body that maintains the network should also have a mandate to provide the network to all areas according to need, rather than profitablility, in much the same way roads are.

    This is the most efficient way to get good broadband to all, and keep a healthy level of competition in the market. If the physical network is privatised, competition effectively comes to a halt.
  • Sometimes you just have to say no to the big evil corporations.

    That's why I get my internet access from Comcast.

    Oh, wait...

    Drat. I guess this won't happen [slashdot.org].
  • Surely Verizion isn't arguing that they are incapable of coming up with good reasons and competitive alternatives to this. Frankly I'm not going to completely trust an open wi-fi network for all I do.
  • We must act. We must organize and protest. I don't urge vandalism but Verizon is being obstructionist and trying to prevent the poor from getting broadband.

    It is unbelievable to me that there are so many fucking idiots on this board that think that we have to have private companies run everything and gouge everyone.

    Have you people forgetten about vaccine shortage and how american companies don't try to make it because there is no profit incentive for them. That is why we need the government to run critic
  • by ckolar (43016) <chris@kol a r . o rg> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @12:12AM (#10906638) Homepage Journal
    We're familiar with that type of game here in the Fox Valley area west of Chicago. We had three communities try to pull together to get municipal broadband [tricitybroadband.com] through and it was fought tooth and nail by SBC. It is pretty pathetic that we are still waiting for complete broadband services out here given that Fermilab is in Batavia (one of the three cities). SBC resorted to scary, misleading ads and other dirty tricks [tricitybroadband.com] and managed to keep the plan suppressed.
  • by Bruha (412869) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @12:21AM (#10906683) Homepage Journal
    You guys need to grab your balls and kick all of your state legislature's collective asses.

    Are you not the state that levied a tax and paid Verizon 58 Billion dollars for a all fiber optic network and there is not one mile of fiber to anyone's homes in the state.

    Now the come with your money and bitch that it would be unfair becuase cities that know they were ripped off were now forced to make their own provisions to provide network access to the general public.

    That's okay your 58 billion went to installing the Fiber in my neighborhood in Texas and other neighborhoods in Florida, Ny, California. We were never taxed at all for it.

    Next thing we'll see up there are toll roads that pay for road construction in other states.

    Sheesh
  • by Cryofan (194126) <cryofan@NoSPam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @12:21AM (#10906687) Homepage Journal
    And there appears to be nothing we can do about it. They can start wars, strip us of worker protections, our social safety net, our higher education funding, anything they want.

    Why? Because of the power of propagnda. They have most of America in the grip of propaganda-based belief systems. Many young males are in the grip of the free-market-as-deity belief system. Others are in the grip of country-and-constitution-worship belief system.

    In the aggregate, these Americans can be manipulated by pressing the right buttons during poltical campaigns, especially primary elections. By the time the general election rolls around, both candidates are always Corporatist shills, at least in the presidential election.

    Really, I have to think that it is not only profit that keeps broadband from being reasonably priced in America. It may be that there is fear among the top of the corporatist hierarchy that once a critical mass of Americans can download video quickly over the Net, alternative distribution and creation systems may open up the path for leftist counter-propaganda. I think that if most Americans could just view a good video documentary series on the history of political propaganda in America, the grip of the corporatists could be shaken.

    Here is a good book on the history of political propaganda in America. [amazon.com]
  • by drewzhrodague (606182) <(drew) (at) (zhrodague.net)> on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @01:05AM (#10906882) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps this is a way for Verizon to force themselves into the wireless throughput game? Perhaps it prevents WISPs from forming.

    Here in Pittsburgh [pghwireles.net], there ain't much going on, 'cept at CMU [cmu.edu], and one of the local mom and pop shops [telerama.com]. There are a few players, but none who talkabout it -- it's taboo here, most people are happy with their dialup (Ugh!).
  • by neurocutie (677249) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @03:20AM (#10907380)
    What's next ? Evian complaining that the Public Water Works is "unfair competition" ? Or The Orkin Man complaining that City Health Depts or the CDC has no right to spray for mosquitoes because it unfairly competes with their insect control business ?

    Whether or not it is actually a good idea for a city gov't to provide public Internet access (many pros and cons), Verizon's claim of "unfair competition" is absurd. Verizon et al has no guaranteed right to market any particular product free from overlap with any service that the government deems is in the public interest to provide as a gov't sponsored function. Will P.I.'s and security companies complain that the police force is unfair competition for its security and investigatory services ? Nope, no such right to assume a wide-open market exclusively for the commercial sector...
  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thebiss (164488) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @03:39AM (#10907430)
    Categorizing broadband access a need so fundamental that governments must provide it to their citizens, implies that many more critical things also should be provided by government to all citizens. A short list might be:

    defense
    shelter
    water
    food
    clothing
    healthc are
    electricity
    heating / cooling
    transportation
    education

    There's certainly enough whining out here about defense, so I'll skip that one. Do we have the shelter issue covered? In rural PA? How about Pittsburg? Are you sure?

    The real poor need a lot more before they care about WiFi. If we're interested in really helping poor people, we need to focus our resources on them, instead of on feel-good policies that only help us feel good about ourselves.

  • by martinde (137088) on Wednesday November 24, 2004 @08:34AM (#10908081) Homepage
    Coke is seeking to ban drinking fountains, as their business plan seeks to sell more Dasani bottled water...

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