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Wireless Networking Hardware

Is Anti-Municipal Broadband Report Astroturf? 529

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-read dept.
Glenn Fleishman writes "A report issued today by the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) and The Heartland Institute says that municipalities shouldn't build wireless networks because it's anti-competitive and will waste taxypayer dollars. The report has some interesting points (mostly about building fiber networks), but eWeek (second page) uncovered that NMRC is a subsidiary of Issue Dynamics, which is a lobbying firm that represents most US telcos and cable operators. It's astroturf. The Heartland Institute won't reveal its funders. I wrote a long account trying to track down the connections between the sock puppets involved in publicizing the report."
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Is Anti-Municipal Broadband Report Astroturf?

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  • I don't understand the significance of this term. Can someone explain?
    • Re:Astroturf? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bwcarty (660606) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:14AM (#11572823)
      Astroturf is fake grass. In this case, it's a business funded organization that appears to be a grass roots movement.
  • Should private companies have to compete with a body that has limitless funds, manpower and preferential access to sell their product? Discuss :)
    • by Gyorg_Lavode (520114) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:16AM (#11572846)
      Should the money I pay the government be used for something I want, would use, and enjoy?

      • > Should the money I pay the government be used for something I want, would use, and enjoy?

        Of course not; everyone knows that taxpayer dollars should have gone to corporate coffers instead.

        • by zulux (112259)
          Of course not; everyone knows that taxpayer dollars should have gone to corporate coffers instead.

          It's not just that - our government is now in charge of confiscating the efforts of many and using the money to please the powerful.

          The social security taxes of the young are used to buy off the votes of the elderly.
          The income taxes of us all are used to buy off the votes of the welfare classes.
          The teriff we pay on imports is used to buy off the votes of the protected Unions.

          It's not just large corporations
      • Theft (Score:3, Insightful)

        Should the money I pay the government be used for something I want, would use, and enjoy?


        Should the money someone else pays the government under threat of imprisonment be used for something they don't want, won't use, and won't enjoy?


        If you want it, you pay for it. Don't force anyone else to pay who doesn't want to. I've got enough bills to pay without funding your addiction to /.

        • Re:Theft (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kefaa (76147) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:32AM (#11573052)
          "If you want it, you pay for it. Don't force anyone else to pay who doesn't want to. "

          Amazing, why does this continue to be a response to anything government funded? Here are services I have never used:
          - The fire department
          - The police department
          - Roads beyond the 1/2 mile to the interstate and around friends and family

          Using your logic, we should just charge people who want the service. Need the fire department? Well, they are currently billing at $85/hour/firefighter plus equipment and supplies.

          We are a society, if as a society, a city decides it is in their best interest to buy WIFI, and you do not, either: a-vote out the officials or b-move to another city.
          • Wifi access != fire or police services

          • Re:Theft (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Mr Guy (547690) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:01PM (#11573419) Journal
            I seriously doubt you've never used the fire department or the police department. Has your house burned down? No? Does it conform to local fire codes? Do you think that fire codes are completely unrelated to the fire department?

            Is your neighborhood under the constant threat of attack from roving mobs? Do you think, perhaps, the police department may have something to do with that? Do people drive whatever speed they want while throwing litter out of their windows on your street?

            Do you honestly believe that the services you do admit to using just magically poof into existance on "Roads [withing] the 1/2 mile to the interstate and around friends and family". Do groceries get beamed into your local supermarket? Does the garbage man take your garbage to a half mile away and then launch it into the sun?
            • Re:Theft (Score:3, Funny)

              by Catbeller (118204)
              "Is your neighborhood under the constant threat of attack from roving mobs? "

              Only in the summer. Street gangs are seasonal.

              "Do people drive whatever speed they want while throwing litter out of their windows on your street?"

              Ohhhh, yes.
        • Then why am I forced to pay for others health care\coke rehab\inability to raise their own kids\welfare check\name-any-other goverment program ?
        • Re:Theft (Score:2, Insightful)

          by paanta (640245)
          I totally disagree. By this sort of logic, there wouldn't be public schools, roads, police protection or a while host of other things that the 'Big Bad Government' spends your money on.

          Municipal broadband access could very well be a net financial benefit to a community. This is _precisely_ the sort of thing I want my city to pay for. Its an excellent competitive advantage. If it draws in a younger crowd, makes it cheaper for businesses to get their job done, and makes it possible for a few more people

      • No. The scope of government should be limited to protecting us from force or fraud, providing for a common defence, and construction and/or regulation of essential infrastructure ( e.g. roads ).

        Now, you might say that government owned and run Wi-Fi networks constitute "essential infrastructure" and since internet access is becomming more and more essential I would not argue against it. That is the reason we might choose to fund this sort of thing thru government not because it is "something I want, would

        • by bitingduck (810730) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:47AM (#11573242) Homepage
          The scope of government should be limited to protecting us from force or fraud, providing for a common defence, and construction and/or regulation of essential infrastructure

          What about public parks, public spaces, (even public restrooms) and the like?

          They aren't "essential infrastructure" or "common defense" but they are management of a limited resource for the common good-- they provide something that many people "want, use, and enjoy".
        • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:54AM (#11573327) Homepage
          No. The scope of government should be limited to protecting us from force or fraud, providing for a common defence, and construction and/or regulation of essential infrastructure ( e.g. roads ).

          No, the scope of the FEDERAL government should be limited to "protecting us from force or fraud, providing for a common defence, and construction and/or regulation of essential infrastructure ( e.g. roads )". If my small town gets together and agrees they're willing to [collectively, as a town] pay Betty to run a public day-care, we as the people of that town are well within our rights to do so. We can build a playground, too, if we like. We can choose to pull our resources together however we see fit and distribute it however we like, so long as it doesn't break any state for federal laws. If you live in my small town and don't like the decisions we make, you can either choose to live with it or leave.

    • by arkanes (521690) <arkanes@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:17AM (#11572872) Homepage
      It's interesting you mention this, since cable companies and telcos have long enjoyed exclusivity contracts, state subsidation, tax breaks, and all sorts of other preferential treatment. They're really upset that some people want to direct those advantages to a non-profit public service rather than the magical creation of a profit center for them.
    • by garcia (6573) * on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:18AM (#11572877) Homepage
      Should private companies have to compete with a body that has limitless funds, manpower and preferential access to sell their product?

      Should private companies be continuously allowed to hold a monopoly on an entire market and thus be able to charge whatever they see fit and treat customers in a manner that is the most economically feasible?

      No. They should not. No one should be able to hold a monopoly on high-speed Internet services in an area (including the local municipality). Everyone should be able to freely compete. Sadly, that's not how it works.

      While I love the theory of munipalities offering low-cost Internet service wirelessly I am worried about the implications of the local government then mandating what is and is not appropriate to traverse that transmission medium.
    • Should the governing body of the land be held back from bringing the modern information age to the heartland of america?

      I think that's the real issue.

      If a private company wants to be competitive in areas that the government is already supplying the service, they will just have to step up the customer service and value added services.
    • Certainly not. They have the freedom to go out of business.
    • Should private companies have to compete with a body that has limitless funds, manpower and preferential access to sell their product? Discuss :)

      Don't forget:
      Has direct lawful (?) ability to have competitors taxed at a different rate than themselves.
      Has direct lawful (?) ability to block competitors access to building/construction permits, right of way, etc.
      Has direct lawful (?) ability to have taxes levied against competitors added to their own coffers.
    • by Tenebrious1 (530949) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:31AM (#11573046) Homepage
      Should private companies have to compete with a body that has limitless funds, manpower and preferential access to sell their product? Discuss :)

      Since when does any municipality have limitless funds? Hell every month the school board proposes a new budget that attempts to cut funding to the arts, and claim they're not receiving enough money from the county or state. They're closing fire houses. They're cutting police overtime. Unlimited funds and manpower? Give me a break.

      Let the municipality build city wide internet access. Like any other city derived resource, it will be used by the less fortunate and the leeches who don't want to pay for something. The service will be nominally better than having none at all, but for many that's all they need.

      Private companies will still compete because businesses still have needs. Individuals who want reliablity and accountability will still have needs that will only be met by a private company.

    • Should private companies have to compete with a body that has limitless funds, manpower and preferential access to sell their product? Discuss :)

      For one, since they're talking about municipalities the concept of 'limitless' budget and manpower is incorrect. Cities have real budgetary constraints and most of their money comes form tax base. It's not like the US DoD has decided to do this, but smaller cities.

      Second of all, sometimes the role of the municipality (or other levels) of government is to do s

  • by JamesD_UK (721413) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:14AM (#11572821) Homepage
    Lobbying of governments by commerical organisations not completely transparent! News at eleven!
  • Great Idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jheaden (169061) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:17AM (#11572857)
    I think municpal run WiFi is a great idea, at least when you can't get a company to do it.

    If there are professional companies willing to invest in the infrustructure great, use them. On the other hand when you have a small town in the middle of nowhere, it could be rather difficult to find that company. In that case a network run by the town looks like the best and only option

    Besides, occasionally a community run network does do better job than the big guys

  • A town in essence is a group of people who have gotten together because it's in their best interests to consolidate their efforts to make the best use of resources (ie roads, schools). If this group of people begins to see the benefits of locally-provided high speed access (albeit wireless) and votes on it, why shouldn't they be free to exercise their will and implement such a plan, assuming it will be affordable?

    If companies are allowed to make money, then my townsfolk should be allowed to work together to *save* money. What next, bulldozing the library because Barnes & Noble wants to open up a store?
    • What next, bulldozing the library because Barnes & Noble wants to open up a store? ...and then suing people who lend books to other people....

      Hmm.

      Steve
    • What next, bulldozing the library because Barnes & Noble wants to open up a store?

      Yeah, those fricken commies with their "public libraries"! I've estimated that Barns & Noble has LOST 17 billion dollars of business to public libraries in the past 10 years, accounting for a loss of 3 million jobs. You know those commie libraries are just filled with left-wing propaganda (i.e. books that aren't the Bible) anyhow.

  • by Walkiry (698192) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:20AM (#11572899) Homepage
    > municipalities shouldn't build wireless networks because it's anti-competitive

    Couldn't we say the same about street illumination, waste disposal or sewer networks? It's another service, and if the municipality thinks that it would benefit the whole community to put a wireless network in place, why shouldn't they get that service with the residents' tax dollars/euros/cookies?
    • No, its a luxury. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Shivetya (243324) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:34AM (#11573079) Homepage Journal
      The difference is that your examples are basic requirements to have a good clean infrastructure. Wireless Internet is a luxury and not employed by many.

      If the government provides this service how long before they will have to subsidize the equipment to those who cannot afford it? Pretty soon you end up with little groups of people who get the equipment and service for free because they are classified as one type of minority or another. This is what happens to government programs that are not required to sustain life. They become vote buying schemes.

      While I love the idea of cheap wireless I do not want the government controlling it. Unlike private corporations governments have incredible methods of ignoring laws and worse writing new ones that control access and content. They also are very good at pushing an agenda with such services.

      So while the article may be FUD this is one area that local governments do not need to stepping into. There is no clear need to provide this service as there is no majority that needs it or has the equipment to use it.

      Do not allow the government to expand simply because it convienences you. The more it convienences your the more control it will eventually exert over you. Pretty soon you will find you will only have to access to what they want you to and when they want you to.

      No, I do not need tinfoil hat. I just believe in small and non-intrusive government. I also believe that they should only provide the services that are required. They are not here to provide luxuries.
      • This exact argument has, and can be, made against every technical advance there's been. Interestingly, the things which actually are *needs*, the government doesn't supply (like housing, and food) whereas the amount of government subsidy for cable TV would blow your free-marketer brain. This has nothing to do with "small government" - in fact, it's practically the definition of small government, because it's done at a small, local level.
      • by ianscot (591483) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:02PM (#11573428)
        Let's leave alone "street illumination" -- which you describe as essential to good clean infrastructure despite my (apparently blighted?) neighborhood not having any at all -- and sidewalks, which are another borderline case. How about the highways?

        The Eisenhower interstate system was originally built as a defense measure -- fast transport -- and as an economic boon. Our government right now spends colossal amounts on highway maintenance, at the federal and state levels that money is enormous.

        The "necessity" of those roads wasn't as apparent when they were built as it is now. Back then -- and I'm sure you can find local examples -- new roads really were a sort of lavish luxury as well as a way of planning -- God forbid -- economic development. (The "Lilac Way" highway that runs near by my house had a big parade when it opened and was, initially, largely used for picnics at [government-built] public BBQ parks. Now it's not a scenic Sunday drive any more; it's a big economic and traffic hub in suburbs that grew up around it.)

        And for what it's worth, the fact that the government planned those highways led to some decisions we can still question. For example, our interstates all run right into and through the interior of our big cities. Neighborhoods that didn't have the political clout to resist having a freeway cut them in half got destroyed by those things. (The Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul died out, for an example local to me.) Talk about your social effects of government! So your objection to this wireless stuff, that it leads to gov't intrusion, does hold up.

        Personally I don't think the line's that clear or clean, and I don't think it's stable over time. Airports are a legit thing for governments to be very involved in planning, yes? I know I don't want a new runway over my yard tomorrow. Would they have been in 1915? When voters think it's legit, the necessities we spend on change.

        The one point I'll strongly agree on is the Government's oversight of communications technologies, though. The FCC is hardly being a good steward of broadcast "space" for television. I'm not sure wireless, which is a point to point model, is quite the same, but I see the objection.

      • by mapmaker (140036)
        Wireless Internet is a luxury and not employed by many.

        So was indoor plumbing, before municipalities built waterworks and sewer lines.

        Is indoor plumbing a necessity or just a luxury? You could take your dumps in a hole in your back yard if you had to. That's how it was done before the daggum gubmint taxed us landowners to build them fancy sewers!

      • by TuringTest (533084) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:20PM (#11573630) Journal
        ...street illumination, water service and waste disposal used to be luxuries. What if access to information counted as a required service in future?
      • by NardofDoom (821951)
        It might be a luxury now, but paved roads were also once a luxury, as were running water, electricity and telephone service.

        And having it be in the hand of a corporation isn't protecting it from laws. In fact, you're exposing it to double regulation; first by the corp, then by the government.

    • by ianscot (591483) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:42AM (#11573153)
      One of our MN state legislators raised these basic objections about the yellow "highway helper" trucks that help people who get a flat or run out of gas during rush hour. (This was a Republican, so he phrased it all in terms of how the little trucks were a sort of socialism.)

      Turned out the guy had a large financial interest in a towing company. Seriously.

    • Exactly, There is no reason that broadband/wifi couldn't be made available by a public utility. The question is which is better, public or private. The answer is that it depends. In a large market with the prospect of solid competition two or three private ventures competing for your business will tend to be better for the user. In small markets where competition is not going to be a factor, public utilities are better for the user because the issue of meeting a profit margin is eliminated. Public utilities
    • Because there's always someone that can do it cheaper. There's something about taking taxpayers money that make city workers lazy. When someone is driven to up profits, you can at least write a letter to the owner and tell him that you received horrible service. If you write the city government a letter about how horrible of a job they are doing, they laugh at you.

      Think I'm kidding? Go down to your city hall and tell them you'd like to file a customer complaint. They'll give you quizzical stares. Then go t
  • Think-tank (Score:2, Insightful)

    New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) sounds like a "Think-tank". In this day and age, it's not a question of conflicted interest and "bias". It's only a question of figuring out who funded it. Same as any "university study".

    Most of the time I look for keywords. In this case, "anti-competitive" and "waste taxpayer dollars" points me toward the people who stand to lose the most from government-sponsored wireless. Which would be telephone companies and cable companies. I would also expect energy/electricit
  • Anticompetitive for you

    Good for me
  • The public good... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by William_Lee (834197)
    I am generally all for competition, and government staying out of the way of private businesses.

    That said, IMO blanketing a municipal area with publicly available hotspots seems like a legitimate use of public dollars if costs can be contained, and if implementation can be managed effectively (I know, I know, big ifs).

    It may be cliched, but the internet has become a truly useful tool that can enrich the lives of those with access to it.

    I think making this bandwidth available as a public service is in the
    • The problem is that i would be able to dump my telephone and cable carriers, as voiceip and internet video broadcast becomes viable.
  • Maybe they're right. Maybe a network infrastructure shouldn't be done via wireless, which still has some major security issues to resolve before. Maybe a network infrastructure is completely useless for a muni to build. But the reasons they state are all wrong. Municipalities should spend tax dollars to provide basic services to the citizens of the municipalities. Providing fire department and police services is an example. Educational services at a job-training level. It's a service. And, just like
    • Ok, first off that 3 dollar bill had monika on it.

      Next, All those services you listed are required for public safety (Police, Fire, and to add, water and sewer) and living. Education to a certain extent is a necessity. Internet to the home is not a necessity. If you "NEED" the internet (though I would question why since I can't think of how it could be life or death), you can go to your public library and use the terminal there. But internet to the home is not a necesity, it is a luxury.
  • As a regular customer to different taxi services I fail to see why municipal wireless broadband wastes my dollars, and I wish to take this opportunity to state I strongly object to these allegations.
  • If the telcos or ISP's are not going to get in on the action, then why are they complaining?

    I believe the idea of a wireless public network is great and hope it spreads to more areas soon.

  • When have you ever enjoyed the qaulity of government service? Name a government program which has been run efficiently. And, what about censorship? Now if an isp censors their users, those users can go to another isp if they care enough. If the government provides zero additional cost ISP service, not as many people would be motivated to go to another ISP to get away from censorship. The other ISPs would have a smaller possible market, and thus have to charge more. The whole idea stinks.
    • Trash pickup is good. Social Security works. My electricity is from the goverment, and it works. I've got good ambulance, fire and police protection. They fix potholes in front of my house and on the way to work, etc.

      Oh, and they're constantly working deals to try to get better broadband throughout town, but the telcos are developing slower than molasses. I ought to bring this idea up with city council.

  • Title? (Score:3, Funny)

    by prozac79 (651102) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:29AM (#11573020)
    Anti-Municipal Broadband Report Astroturf?

    Hey, I can string together a bunch of random words to:
    "hyper-fluctuating communications coffee mug".
    "Rainy IP Microsoft helmet".
    "MP3 plastic raisen sports dome?"

    I guess a confusing title is the first step to getting your submissions through.

  • I agree....sort of. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by acoustix (123925) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:31AM (#11573043) Homepage
    I think that municipalities should not offer free access. If they want to offer a pay service, that's fine. If the do offer a pay service then it needs to be operated only by the funds it takes in. Otherwise it would unfair competition with private companies.

    Also, as much of a geek as I am I have to say that I don't want my government spending more money on a non-essential service. Internet access is not a right, it's a priviledge. I would rather have more policeman, fireman, teachers, road repairs, water repairs, sewer repairs, etc than wireless internet access that is controlled by the government. Plus there will be more fighing over what should be filtered on a government-controlled network. I just don't think it's worth the $$$ or headaches.

    -Nick
    • I think that municipalities should not offer free access. If they want to offer a pay service, that's fine. If the do offer a pay service then it needs to be operated only by the funds it takes in. Otherwise it would unfair competition with private companies.

      If I understand what you are saying, you are saying that it should be setup how the postal service is? As a private company that is mandated to providing a service at cost and paying it's own way? Although, the Post Office has changed slightly (ori
    • I'd like to second this. In particular, there is plenty of cheap Internet access around (exactly how much does dialup cost these days? It's been so long...). Wireless Internet access is only useful to people who have laptops and wireless cards, both of which are luxury items. If you can afford both, surely you can pay for your own Internet access rather than having the government supply it for you?
    • by Xyrus (755017)
      You have no rights, everything is a privilege.

      You say it's a non-essential service. That's your view. I'm sure there are a fair number of users out their who consider it to be an essential serivice (me being one of them, I telecommute occasionally).

      I believe the recent articles on this topic are referring to small towns setting up their own broadband. They're not interested in filtering content, they're interested in just getting broadband.

      Most likely, such a venture would be funded by a hike in town tax
    • What I often wonder about is why there isn't more discussion about having a public network, over which service is offered by competing private parties. We don't have a State-run trucking company along with public roads. Why do we assume it has to be government monopoly vs state monopoly? Private competition over public networks could mean real competition due to low barriers to entry. We all know how a good commons can serve as a platform for widespread success.

      And why do we do half-a** measures like manda
    • But let's say a small community gets together and agrees to provide "free" service (not really free, but supported through a yearly fee or other taxes). Why shouldn't they be able to do so? Is their democratic rights to make such decisions surpassed by the principle of private profit?
  • by the_skywise (189793) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:34AM (#11573072)
    The political groups (Democrats and Republicans) have been doing this for years. Setup a "think tank" with an innocuous sounding name ("People for the American Way" (an anti-Religion group), "The Heritage Foundation" (a Conservative/Republican group) ) and then start spewing "research" and press releases.

    Microsoft does this itself. (Running a campaign of sending out letters to newspapers across the US as a "grassroots" effort)

    Wal-Mart is running a "counter-campaign" to try to save it's image.

    Is it wrong? It's under the table to be sure. if it's not putting out lies or misrepresenting it's information I don't think so. Maybe their view is right and the only way they'll get their message heard is if they use a messenger that doesn't automatically generate a prejudiced response.
    I mean, how many people would read the article: "Phone Company research shows that Municipal Wireless is a bad idea" without thinking "Ah, the phone company's just pissed that they're not getting money.
    (and no, I don't think the phone company's right here...I'm just sayin')
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:35AM (#11573087) Homepage
    I know this community, and I know that we all like the idea of ubiquitous internet access. I have a computer in my car and I'm a cheap bastard, so I would stand to directly benefit from a plan that would get me legit free internet access.

    But I have a concern... Without setting off the 'crazy anarchist' alarm, I think that the scope of the government should be limited at this point, not increased. The original purpose of our government was to provide a loose framework that would facilitate order and protect our borders from foreign invasion. Over the past 250 years, something changed, and many now look to government to fulfill a parental role as well. We expect the government to make sure we all share, take care of things we as children couldn't fathom (analogous to parents paying the utlity bill. If you're a 5 year old, you just see 'we have electricity', not 'we just paid for a service'). It has expanded time and time again, and each time we transfer something from private enterprise to the government, we lose a little power and flexibility.

    A free market economy isn't perfect, but it has undeniably been the greatest boom to human rights since the invention of the cave. Every time a company has to compete, you get innovation. Every time you get innovation, you get lowered costs and better products.

    If governments (city, federal, state, it doesn't matter which) then the competition aspect disapears. Maybe the service at the time of creation is perfect (Wow, 2 megabit, 5ms ping time, right on!) but after 5 years, it would probably start to feel a bit tight. After ten years, it would be hopelessly out of date. Remember the modem you used ten years ago? How satisfied would you be with it today?

    Finally, business is the lubrication that prevents the gears of democracy from locking up. Money is power, and the flow of money back and forth keeps things fluid. If you destroy a company, that cash flow begins to stagnate, and stagnation is what hurts the economy. In the end, the government grows, money slows down, and everyone is hurt a little bit.

    Is it a worthy tradeoff for bandwidth? I'm sure there are plenty of people who say 'yeah' because instead of death, they just see the tradeoffs as 'a little pain', something that they won't notice. The problem is, that as citizens, we're making compromises for the little pain every day, and pretty soon it starts to add up.

    This isn't a rant against government, it's a rant against stagnation and overcentralization.
    • I think that the scope of the government should be limited at this point, not increased.

      True enough, but utilities such as power and water (and now, network) benefit from government regulation. It's the sort of thing where it isn't really feasible to have more than one organization running the physical infrastructure. When that happens, it may as well be government-run, since there's some oversight involved.

      If governments (city, federal, state, it doesn't matter which) then the competition aspect dis

    • Your points are completely worth thinking about, but the issue here is that a group that is pretending to be independent is funded by telecom and incumbent interests to keep municipalities from even trying to build their own networks. This report will be waved in the face of every city and town and county council before they can fairly evaluate whether municipal broadband would work.
    • Finally, business is the lubrication that prevents the gears of democracy from locking up.

      No. Business is about making money. The "lubrication that prevents the gears of democracy from locking up" is citizen implication and conscientisation. Business does pretty well these day while the current state of Western democracy is damn pathetic. Connect the dots.

  • It's another example of using tax dollars for something outside of the scope of government. Just because someone is a slashdot reader who feels they _need_ internet access and don't feel like paying, that does not mean it is a role of the government. Other people don't want to pay for internet access, and shouldn't have to. I want a car, and I want it cheap. Should the government be in that business too?
  • Do we really want this? Somewhere, sometime before long, some small local group will take the city supplied internet connections to court, with the rallying cry of "Your tax dollars are providing pornography!"
    And the city will probably bend over. I can't see a local jurisdiction not putting a filter on the content they deliver, if only to provide the appearance of trying to avoid a lawsuit.
  • by Stevyn (691306) on Friday February 04, 2005 @11:53AM (#11573309)
    On one hand, you have an infrastructure that lots of people will use. It would save the people money if it wasn't in the hands of a for-profit company but rather the local government.

    However, many governments, small and large, are lazy, corrupt, and wasteful and would end up costing people more money than if private companies had to compete for the job.

    So this depends on the people you have in government and the influence companies that would take this over have on those people.

    The other side is for areas that companies won't connect up because they can't justify the small profit. Poor urban areas which can't afford to pay the cable or telephone companies might benefit from a government run operation. However, usually when governments say they're going to help lower class minorities, they just instead pad their own pockets.

    So there is no clear "this is good" or "this is bad". You have to look at each case. I happen to live in an area where comcast offers very fast internet access, so I have no need for this type of service and I don't feel I should have to pay for it.
  • This is the funny thing. We're talking about small change here, folks. Very small change, in terms of big business, in what it will take to get a metro-wide WiFi service. All this complaint about big government and what-not? Heck. This is pocket change.

    Any argument about 'big government' and 'wasted money' is silly. The only argument is it being hard for existing wireless services to compete against something like this. And a few large companies really believe in this argument and want you to believe in it
  • By their logic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:48PM (#11573977) Homepage
    The government should have never gotten into the buisness of data distribution over a large, connected computer environment. A lot of the services we enjoy today, including many now in private hands, started out as government initiatives. It seems as though they're suggesting the government should only handle the services no private company wants. It's a fine line to walk.

    And I'm not sure why we feel like people who use more government supplied resources can't pay more than an equal share of the cost. Trucking companies use the roads to make money and trucks are hard on roads. I don't see it as a huge deal that trucking companies pay road use fees in the form of taxes. I'd even take it step farther and suggest that parents with kids in school might pay a little higher tax rate that people without kids or those opting for private school. Everybody contributes, but those who use the resources the most contribute a little more.

    You may want after school and athletic programs for your kids but don't expect those of us without kids to keep accepting higher and higher tax burdens for supporting them.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday February 04, 2005 @12:53PM (#11574045) Homepage Journal
    municipalities shouldn't build wireless networks because it's anti-competitive and will waste taxypayer dollars, where were they when taxpayer dollars were used to build stadiums, football, baseball or otherwise? I didn't hear this group whining and bitching then.

    Several studies have shown that using taxpayer dollars to build stadiums is a net loss. The money spent to build is not recovered in taxes or job growth.

    Yes, I realize this group is a cover for the telcos and such but come on, at least be consistent.
  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Friday February 04, 2005 @01:05PM (#11574198)
    ..the Totally, Completely, Not at All Related to the Big Oil Companies Research Institute released its findings that automobile emissions are good for baby birds and cute lil' bunnies. The Institute's previous work has shown that crude oil gives sea otter fur a shiny, healthy glow.
  • by topham (32406) on Friday February 04, 2005 @02:26PM (#11575110) Homepage

    Whenever I see stories about a municipality, township, or some other community trying to put together wireless, or wired internet services I read the stories. They interest me.

    And 9 times out of 10 the story turns out to be horribly overpriced local monopoly trying to set rates far higher than anyone could be expected to pay in this day and age, or, the companies which could offer the service choose not to.

    And they get upset when someone else decides to take the piece of the pie they were ignoring.

    I am of the opinion companies only provide service where they know they will have substantial profits, or where their competitor would have profits if they did not compete.

    They actively ignore those markets where the profit margin is less than perfect and there is no other significant competition.

    If a significant portion of a town whats a service and the local monopoly does not choose to offer it, too bad, they had their chance. Replace them.
  • by nasor (690345) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:21PM (#11578023)
    Here's how I see this going: The town opens a city-owned wireless service, and everyone gets a better deal than they could get from a commercial provider. The service eventually begins to stagnate/deteriorate as city officials stop funding it properly, or refuse to increase funds to add features and/or take advantage of new technology. As budgets are cut (by inflation if nothing else) the service starts to suck, but everyone is still required by law to buy the service via taxes. Finally people will end up being over-charged for a bloated/inefficient/broken down service that they could get a much better deal on if they went with a private company - but there aren't any private companies in the area, because no one wants to bother trying to compete with a service that people are already forced to by somewhere else; rather like trying to open a GM dealership in a town where everyone is required by law to buy a Kia. What kind of service do you think you'll get at the town Kia dealership if the employees there know that you have to buy from them whether you like it or not?

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