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SBC Promotes Texas Anti-Wireless Bill 392

Posted by Zonk
from the save-ferris dept.
rhythmx writes "Details of this bill have been previously covered on Slashdot. SBC has since put up TV ads and a website saying that our telecom laws need to be changed. From their propaganda, "The Texas legislature has the opportunity to modernize telecom regulation and promote innovation to finally reach our goals for new technologies and enhanced consumer benefits." They hardy even mention the bill itself, basically only that it is "Good for Texas -- Good for Texans." This bill has already passed through the House and is now in the Texas state Senate."
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SBC Promotes Texas Anti-Wireless Bill

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  • Get a grip. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FreeLinux (555387) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:52AM (#12176026)
    And what surprises you about this. A large corporation is lobbying both politically and publicly in favor of a position that supports its own interest and is contrary to the general public's interest. This is surprising? This is news?

    Here's a news flash. Whining about SBC on Slashdot will have zero effect on this issue. ZERO There is, as yet, no law stopping you from putting up your own website and running your own television "propaganda" campaign on the matter.

    What's more is that SBC is at least partly correct when they state that it is unfair that some providers, such as themselves, are regulated while others, such as any new comer, are not. It is unfair. I'm sure you aren't going to lose any sleep over SBC's losses, and neither am I but, if it were you that was being prejudiced against, you'd be crying the blues and singing another story completely.
    • Re:Get a grip. (Score:5, Informative)

      by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:54AM (#12176049)
      > What's more is that SBC is at least partly correct
      > when they state that it is unfair that some
      > providers, such as themselves, are regulated while
      > others, such as any new comer, are not. It is
      > unfair.

      Yet morally, they're on low ground. SBC is regulated for a reason. Care to explain to the readers why, without the spin?
      • by PornMaster (749461) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:12AM (#12176251) Homepage
        The reason why ILECs are regulated is because the telephone was the primary method of realtime person-to-person communication which wasn't face to face for damn near 100 years, and government decided that it was vital enough to require that telephone service be provided to as many people as possible in as high of a state of reliability as possible. My wireline phone service has "downtime" far less than just about any other service I get.

        However, it's a fair question to ask why they're regulated more than their new breed of competition. This new competition (wireless, VoIP, etc) has been far less reliable to this point in my experience. Vonage, while I love it, has certainly had repeated outages in the year that I've had it. It's been more reliable than Windows, but less reliable than my Verizon POTS.

        Ditto with my Optimum Online.

        If communications are essential for things like emergency service, and are a cause worthy of "universal service" type of access, then we need to regulate them to an extent to get the same level of reliability. If it's not that important, then there's no reason SBC should have to play by these rules, but not their competition.
        • You hit the nail right on the head. The appropriate time to find out you don't have 911 service, for instance, is not when you try to call it.
        • I think it's a good argument for updating the regulation, not necessarily either abolishing it or applying it to everyone.

          Right now, ILECs have a near monopoly on the "last mile". Cable is about the only near competitor, but as there's never been a universal access requirement for cable, it's not something that can be as universal and thus important as standard telephone wire.

          ILECs use their wire to supply a number of services that require that last-mile line but do not, by themselves, need to be provid

        • by learn fast (824724) on Friday April 08, 2005 @01:50PM (#12178131)
          wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

          You slept through economics class again, didn't you?

          The reason why telephone service was regulated was not because it was the "primary method of realtime person-to-person communication" it's because phone service was believed to be a natural monopoly [wikipedia.org], meaning that costs could only be lowest with one, large firm serving everybody. But since that firm would be able to charge whatever it wanted or deny service to anyone it really felt like (it being the only firm in the market) natural monopolies must be heavily regulated to prevent that.

          In theory, the inefficiency of regulation will less than either the firm would behave if totally uncontrolled or if left to competition (or outright socialization of the firm). Utilities, like water or power service for example, are ideal examples of natural monopoly -- we can't have many competing firms trying to install their own pipes or telephone poles.

          Anyway, for much more than I can describe here, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly [wikipedia.org].
    • by emil (695) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:05AM (#12176180) Homepage

      Rather than strapping our country into a PSTN that was never designed for DSL data rates, we should have a free-for-all on wifi, where anyone with the dollars can set up a subscription network.

      Land-line broadband is hopelessly bundled with services that I don't want (cable tv, POTS). wifi is the only hope for unbundled broadband.

      It is tempting to let municipalities do wifi - they would do it well, but the phone companies will always be at their throats with the legislative process.

      I'd rather see the FCC set aside much more wifi bandwidth, and have my pick of 50 providers. I probably won't get that either, since everyone in government is bought and paid for.

      • Broadband is not the answer for high speed Internet access.
        It is good in low density areas and for mobile applications but it fails once the density goes up.
        Even with 802.11g you only have 54mbits. While that seems like a lot it starts to suck when you get 500 people using it. There is a limited amount of bandwidth you can use for wireless. Think about it You can not have 50 WiFi suppliers to choose from. If you put 50 access points all covering one area you will get nothing! They will be stomping all over

        • Broadband is not the answer for high speed Internet access.


          Broadband is high speed internet access. I will assume that you mean wireless.

          It is good in low density areas and for mobile applications but it fails once the density goes up.

          While this is true to a point, smart spread spectrum devices can utilize the available bandwith in a much more inteligent way. Your argument is parimount to saying that a pair of wires is good for one conversation. While this was once true, more inteligent devices
    • Re:Get a grip. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by OpenGLFan (56206)
      Here's a news flash. Whining about SBC on Slashdot will have zero effect on this issue. ZERO There is, as yet, no law stopping you from putting up your own website and running your own television "propaganda" campaign on the matter.

      So what should we do? I'm asking seriously. Call a state Senator? Write him? Attach a $20 bill to the letter? Seriously, I bet there are thousands of Texas /.'ers who have never tried to influence their state representatives outside of election day. What's the best way to
      • Re:Get a grip. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stratjakt (596332) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:17AM (#12176301) Journal
        Call a state Senator? Write him?

        Yes, write your representative, tell him he's lost a vote.

        Write your own words, without resorting to name calling or cursing, or any other immature stuff that would get your letter summarily tossed into the trash can.

        Don't send a boilerplate letter, partake in a mass-mailing, and don't waste time signing some online petition, those go straight to the trash can too (and for good reason, since they all reek of an agenda).

        Believe it or not, when politicians start to see a growing number of real registered voters are turning against them, they actually do take heed.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          > Yes, write your representative, tell him he's lost a vote.

          It doesn't apply to this case, since it looks like normal lobbying, but if you really want some action that's a little more punitive than "well I just won't vote for you", send a copy to whatever ethics board oversees that elected official. They get enough letters, they start to think something's really up, they start investigations, they can really ruin a politician's year.

          You should only do this for actions that really stink though -- cry w
        • Yes, write your representative, tell him he's lost a vote.

          There's no need to make any threats; it's implicit that if you're sufficiently annoyed to write, then you'll also be paying attention to how they vote. Just explain what position you think they should take, on which bill, give a simple argument, say thanks, and say that you'd like to know their current position. Make sure they have your name and address so they can reply and so they know you're a constituent. The letter will be read by some rand

      • Start your own campaign!
        Yes, write your congress critter. Perhaps include a $20 ;)
        Fax all your congress critters.
        Advocate that everyone else call/write/fax them.
        Make it easy for everyone, have the contact information available perhaps pre printed.
        Start your own web site to inform the public and then get the public to visit somehow. Promise free porn or something.
        Post fliers everywhere you can. (Get permission from the property owners.)
        Contact your local papers and TV stations, see if you can get some equal
      • Spend a few millions of dollars on a high-profile TV advertising campaign and other lobbying, and you might get what you want. Seriously, this is about the only way, unless you know of some other way to raise public awareness of the issue. It's just how American politics works.
    • Re:Get a grip. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by twifosp (532320) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:24AM (#12176393)
      And what surprises you about this. A large corporation is lobbying both politically and publicly in favor of a position that supports its own interest and is contrary to the general public's interest. This is surprising? This is news?

      Suprising? No. News? Yes.

      As a resident of Texas, I actually wasn't aware fo this until I opened up Slashdot today. First, shame on me.

      While your general tone of apathy is not suprising, it's also not helping the situation. In fact, Slashdot's "whining" is doing far more than you're overated post. When voting rolls around, I'll be sure to do a bit of simple research to find out which politicians are supporting this type of iniative, and assuming their opponents aren't asshats, vote for their opposition.

      I've also forwarded this article to no less than 9 coworkers (geeks), who I'm sure will spread the word. We're all registered voters. So saying zero, no wait ZERO! effect on the issue is just plain wrong. It might only have .00001 effect on the issue, but it's going to have an effect. Votes will be swayed by this.

      Lose the apathy, captain whiney, it is what's wrong with this place (and country) in the first place.

      On a side note, imagine that. I learned something from Slashdot today. And as a bonus, I learned something before noon.

      • Well said! I wish I had some mod points for you.

        Spreading information always has an effect.
      • Re:Get a grip. (Score:3, Informative)

        by NardofDoom (821951)
        Pennsylvania just passed a bill like this. I made sure everyone knew about it. My mom works in the local Democratic party and tried to help and raise awareness. My geek coworkers wrote letters.

        What happened? The governor still signed it. And you know what? He'll get reelected in spite of the fact that he gave away some control of our municipalities to corporations.

        Conservatives are right when they say money is speech. It's the only speech politicians every listen to.

        • Re:Get a grip. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by twifosp (532320)
          What happened? The governor still signed it. And you know what? He'll get reelected in spite of the fact that he gave away some control of our municipalities to corporations. Conservatives are right when they say money is speech. It's the only speech politicians every listen to. Be that as it may, I don't plan to roll over and die just because Cooperate America is taking countrol of my country.

          You know why money is the only speech? Because regular speech by regular citizens gets in the way of Must See

      • As a resident of Texas, I actually wasn't aware fo this until I opened up Slashdot today. First, shame on me.

        Fool me once... shame on... shame on you.

        Fool me.. you can't get fooled again.
    • Re:Get a grip. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by denissmith (31123)
      When you say that I as an individual have the ability to broadcast MY message, by purchasing commercial air-time YOU ARE WRONG. You are naive. Go to adbusters.org. They have tried to purchase air-time for commercials for YEARS without success. Television stations will not sell air-time to anyone who questions their pro-corporate message. They don't have to, and they won't. If you believe this is a level playing field, if you believe you have equal access to the airwave you are living a dream world. T
    • Whining about SBC on Slashdot won't change this, but if you live in Texas, you can certainly call your state legislators and ask them not to vote for it, or contact the Governor asking for a veto if it passes.
    • "There is, as yet, no law stopping you from putting up your own website and running your own television "propaganda" campaign on the matter."

      There doesn't need to be a law when it takes $1000 per second to air.
    • Re:Get a grip. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sacrilicious (316896) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:57AM (#12176775) Homepage
      Whining about SBC on Slashdot will have zero effect on this issue.

      Yet posting about this on slashdot can create widerspread discussion and can allow people to advocate action. It's a fine line.

  • by mogrify (828588) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:52AM (#12176027) Homepage
    You'd hope that any position that a telecom company takes on telecom regulation would be met with an appropriate degree of skepticism. Hey, you can't fault them for trying to spin the issue, but you can't really expect a balanced view of things.

    The problem is using phrases like 'fair' and 'well-balanced' to describe a position that is clearly neither of those things. Fox News, anyone?
    • by DrinkingIllini (842502) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:03AM (#12176163)
      Good for Texas...Good for Texans
      That has to be the most inane slogan I've ever heard, but I'm sure the idiot majority will eat it up with a spoon.

      Spin is a drain on the country. I wish someone besides John Stewart would come out on one of these news shows and call bullshit. All the pundits are just talking heads for their respective parties, spewing inane talking points 'til the cows come home.
      • I hear ya. Funny thing is, he'd be the first one to say that it's sad that he's the only one in the trenches.

        This is just one more example of how hard it is to get real, unbiased information these days. It's not just telecom, people.
        • It's not harder to get real, unbiased information. It's just that now we're starting to have more sources that can easily be compared, and we're realizing how biased most sources are.
    • Hey, you can't fault them for trying to spin the issue

      Sure I can. Just as I can fault any lying sack of shit trying to fuck with my life by messing with the legal system. They *are* liars and they *are* at fault, and no amount of 'spin' will ever change those facts.

      Max
  • This reminds me... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Philosinfinity (726949) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:54AM (#12176047)
    of when SBC got the Illinois house and senate to draft, vote on, and enact a bill of their liking in less than a week. This was record time in our state. The amount of money this company dumps into state politics is so insane that they are entirely able to control the elected officials or fund the campaign of the person who will replace them in the next election.
  • Radio... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jmrobinson (660094) on Friday April 08, 2005 @10:58AM (#12176105)
    They've also put up radio commercials featuring the "telecomedian." and I quote:

    "Back in my day, a blog was a creature from the deep!"

    "Back in my day, PDA meant Public display of affection!".

    They portray it as laws holding back technological innovation, when in reality those laws help save us some $$$, and help the small businesses get a foot in the door. I grind my teeth every time I hear those commercials.
    • Re:Radio... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Loco3KGT (141999) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:03AM (#12176160)
      Save you money?

      How does the government installing wireless everywhere save you money? The government is paying for that with tax dollars. You remember taxes? Where the government takes your money and gives it to someone else?
      • Re:Radio... (Score:2, Informative)

        How does the government installing wireless everywhere save you money?

        Didn't they do a survey a number of years ago that discovered that many people do not understand the connection between the government's money and taxes? There are people who think the government just has its own money to spend.

      • Re:Radio... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by GlassUser (190787)
        Save you money?

        How does the government installing wireless everywhere save you money? The government is paying for that with tax dollars. You remember taxes? Where the government takes your money and gives it to someone else?


        Or, the government votes to have a third party install this network for a guaranteed monopoly and rates set by this local government. No tax dollars spent there.

        Of course this wouldn't be too dissimilar to the SBC scenario, except that the local government (municipality, I'd guess)
      • Section 53.401 (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mikael (484)
        From the text of the document to be passed:

        Sec. 53.401. APPLICATION OF SUBCHAPTER. This subchapter
        applies only to a rural incumbent local exchange company.
        Sec. 53.402. NEW SERVICES. (a) A rural incumbent local
        exchange company shall price each new service at or above the
        service's long run incremental cost. The commission shall allow
        the company to establish a service's long run incremental cost by
        adopting, at that company's option, the cost studies of a larger
        company for that service that have be
      • Re:Radio... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by learn fast (824724)
        You're assuming that it costs the same for a municipality to give wireless to everyone as the sum of what SBC would charge all of those people individually.

        To put it in other terms, the only reason cities are considering doing this is because it's so damn cheap to the point of being non-excludable. Do you really think a city-wide wifi WLAN would cost $29.99 per person per month?
    • "Back in my day, PDA meant Public display of affection!" You know, I work at a school system as a security guard, and saw two kids basically humping each other in the lunchroom. I walk up to the Asst Principal and say "What's your policy on PDA?..." she said "Well, as long as they keep them under their clothes so you can't see it it's okay"...

      Talk about an alkward moment :-!
  • dyslexia (Score:2, Funny)

    by carpe_noctem (457178)
    Damn... at first glance, I thought this story headline read "SBC Promotes Wireless Anti-Texas Bill".
  • by awhelan (781773) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:03AM (#12176154) Homepage
    As a libertarian I'm generally against state governments spending tax dollars on services that people would otherwise pay for themselves, but municipal Wi-Fi is not a bad thing. The goal is to provide information to people who wouldn't normally be able to access to it. It's not anti-competitive because people still need cable or DSL if they want their own IP address, a more reliable connection, a web server, or just more bandwidth... if they don't need these things then DSL/cable wouldn't be worth it to them anyway. Free Wi-Fi is no more wrong than having free public libraries... or more relevantly, free internet at public libraries. What is the difference between providing your citizens with encyclopedias for reference at libraries, and access to Wikipedia via municipal Wi-Fi? I will admit that I have purchased fewer books because I have had access to public libraries, but bookstores still have their place. Sometimes I would really rather own a book than check it out for a week. This service provides very basic internet access, and anybody who wants more than that will pay for it. SBC should not be any more worried than your local bookstore.

    ...and if you disagree respond insted of just modding me down, I'd way rather hear your point than go to karma hell =)
    • As a libertarian I'm generally against state governments spending tax dollars on services that people would otherwise pay for themselves, but...

      since I would personally benefit in this particular case, I am perfectly willing to cast my libertarian principles aside.

      So, what's the difference between you and the state congress critter that gives in to corporate lobbying?
    • "As a libertarian I'm generally against state governments spending tax dollars on services that people would otherwise pay for themselves,"

      Why? at times, that's the most efficient way to do it.
      • not to a hardline libertarian. To those people, if the free market can't do it, it's not worth doing. See also: Dale Gribble, King of the Hill.
        • not to a hardline libertarian. To those people, if the free market can't do it, it's not worth doing.

          I hate that kind of self-proclaimed libertarians. They're the nuts that think every cooperative venture in their ideal world must be some sort of corporation driven by market forces. Real libertarians realize that people can just get together and (say) form a volunteer fire department rather than everyone having to subscribe to a for-profit fire-fighting service if they want their burning house doused.

          • by kin_korn_karn (466864) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:50AM (#12176680) Homepage
            Yeah, you get a lot of them online. Most real-world libertarians are more concerned with government intrusion into private life than with deregulating everything.

            I consider myself to be a liberal libertarian. IMO the corporate world has proven for hundreds of years that it cannot be trusted to do the right thing unless the right thing also happens to be the profitable thing, and as such needs to be regulated tightly. However, I'm also a non-Christian and I resent the enforcement of hardline Christian morality, such as the ban on gay marriage, that the Republican Party advocates.
            • it cannot be trusted to do the right thing unless the right thing also happens to be the profitable thing

              Considering that it is the SOLE purpose of business to make a profit, this makes total sense. If you're running a "business" that puts the "right" thing ahead of profits, you're no longer running a business, you're running a charity. Not that there's anything wrong with that, just don't expect businesses to operate by the same motives. If something can't be operated at a profit and it is in the overwhe
      • It seems to me the two of you aren't in disagreement. He's saying he's "generally" against something, and you're saying "at times" it's good. Maybe those times when it's efficient are what caused him to say "generally" instead of "always".

        And yes, I would say that "generally" the government is not the most efficient means to acheive a goal. Governments aren't generally set up to be efficient, and they usually have little motivation to be efficient, so they generally aren't that efficient. But then agai

        • Free markets have their own inefficiencies. There's the cost of having several different competing groups doing the same thing in different ways, costs to those several groups of all bidding for the same contract, which not all will get.

          Also, a market incurs a lot of new costs, simply because whenever there is an interface between two commercial organisations, there is a lot of time and effort spent on each side of that interface making sure that your own interests are being served, e.g. contract negotiat
          • Again, I don't think we're disagreeing. I would say that very often (i.e. generally) allowing people to compete produces a more efficient outcome. Sometimes, for certain things, a government is more efficient. Sometimes governments handle things that the point isn't just to be "efficient", but to promote the common good in a way a for-profit company might not.

            Or does it seem to you we disagree? (or are you just going into detail/examples?)

    • But what about all the companies that have invested to put WiFi where it is? Is it fair for the cities to decide that it should be free and drive them out of business?

      How is this different than Microsoft giving away Internet Explorer to drive Netscape out of business? How is this different than Microsoft giving away Media player hurting real? These are all things that have seemed good to a vast number of consumers, they got something for nothing. It also drove competition between Netscape and Microsoft
      • Is it fair for the cities to decide that it should be free and drive them out of business?

        No, it isn't fair and unfortunately somebody is always going to lose. Starting a business is a gamble, and there is always a risk of something like this happening. It's more a question of whether or not it benefits the general public. To stick with the library analogy, if your company offered the same services as a library and charged members a $20/month fee, then the government suddenly started building libraries a
      • But what about all the companies that have invested to put WiFi where it is? Is it fair for the cities to decide that it should be free and drive them out of business?

        Sure. The "cities" are made up of citizens. They all have priorities. If they collectively decide to fund a "free" wifi system, then they have decided that they would rather do it themselves than pay a private firm. Just because a company has "invested" in an infrastructure, that does not mean that they have a god-given right to profit



      • Is it fair for the cities to decide that it should be free and drive them out of business?

        This is the same criticism that:
        • Taxi cab companies probably yelled at New York City Council meetings when they were planning a subway system.
        • Water park / slide companies express when a city plans a public swimming pool.
        • Private universities present when a state is budgeting for a state college.
        • Toll road vendors use when a city plans a new freeway.
        • Barnes and Noble screams when a city puts in a new public librar
    • I'm with you, but I think wireless Internet currently goes a little bit beyond basic services. 20 years from now I hope things are different, but the number of people with a wireless laptop are still probably in the minority, and hence taxing the general public wouldn't really be fair since you are benefitting those who could probably afford to pay for it themselves.

      I guess for me the bottom line would really be the cost factor.
      • Why does everyone always equate wireless access with laptop only? Say your city proivdes free wifi access for its citizens. Slap a $50 PCI WiFi card in a $300 Dell and your your up and running. There are various charities that give away computers for those who can't afford them (I've been involved in 3 at different times). Possibly the municipality can even buy PCI WiFi cards in bulk and distribute them to whoever comes in to sign up for their free wifi access and demonstrates a finacial need, or gives o
    • by YoJ (20860)
      I agree with your sentiment, but there are more considerations. Every issue has points in favor of allowing the government to do it, and points against it. I think the best way to answer this question is by starting with excludability, then possibly making arguments against the general principle if a particular case has novel features. The principle of excludability says that the government should provide services when the cost of excluding non-payers is higher than the cost of the service. When a servi
    • It is NOT free (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lbmouse (473316)
      It is not FREE... it has to be paid by someone. I for one do not want my taxes going to pay for some teenage boy's ability to surf for pr0n. Plus, whenever the gov't gets involved, regulation, restriction, and censorship are not far behind. Finally, name one major profitable telco/provider that does NOT run more efficiently than any entity within the government.
      • I for one do not want my taxes going to pay for some teenage boy's ability to surf for pr0n.

        Do you object to paying for the road he has to travel down to buy pr0n from a shop?

    • by WaxParadigm (311909) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:11PM (#12176951)
      " As a libertarian ... municipal Wi-Fi is not a bad thing."

      You, my friend?!? are not a libertarian.

      "Free Wi-Fi is no more wrong than having free public libraries... or more relevantly, free internet at public libraries."

      Why not free cars, houses, food, health care, computers, etc?

      You're not a libertarian, just a selective socialist (I imagine you're selective for when it's beneficial to you, or when you simply don't understand how the principles of liberty and freedom might apply to a particular topic.

      The problem with municipal WIFI (and why, as a consumer, I support bills like this to remind government of it's proper role) is something called "tyranny of the majority." Essentially the will of the majority is FORCED upon the minority. In this case the purchasing choise of the "majority" (purchase this service through the government instead of a company) is not only forced on the minority (who want to purchase it from the free market or don't want it at all) but the majority gets to subsidize their choice with the monies of those in the minority (to the majority this makes the service seem "free" or at least cheap...while the minority carries the burden).

      At the end of the day, this is a service that can be provided by/within the free market, and is not important enough to warrent sendind people to jail and taking their posessions if they choose not to fund it...so it is not an appropriate service for the government to fund using tax dollars. If a city council wants to compete with other ISPs, they can quit the council, get some VC funding or a business loan, and start a business like everyone else.
  • by the arbiter (696473) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:03AM (#12176168)
    Good God, this may be the most depressing thing I've ever read.

    This bill is no different then, let's say, forbidding the citizens of a municipality from forming their own fire department...and making only one company the legal provider of "fire protection services".

    In short, SBC is asking the state of Texas to provide them with a legally-approved monopoly. And the state is doing it.

    When does this stop? When will citizens realize that the very people they're putting in office are signing over every right and interest they have to corporations who has no regard for their health, safety, or welfare? (And I'm hoping that the citizenry is ignorant of what's happening, because if they're not, the notion that people are willing to sign over their democratic rights is too depressing for me to contemplate)
    • by CharlieHedlin (102121) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:19AM (#12176332)
      It seems like there are a lot of companies doing WiFi than just SBC. Sure, they don't want it taking from the DSL or cable revenue, but I doubt that is likely to happen. So how does asking the government not to drive corporations out of a new industry give them a monopoly?

      This just prevents the government from getting a monopoly.

      Everyone here is just eager to get taxpayer provided Interet access. think about this not in the terms of what you get out of it. Think of it more as "do we want the government owing our ISP?" Think of the goverment abuses and censorship that happens now.
      • by the arbiter (696473) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:39PM (#12177333)
        I don't see anything in any municipal Wi-Fi proposal, anywhere, that says the municipality will be the sole mandatory provider of wireless services. So I'm unclear as to how "the government" obtains a monopoly from these proposals. They're just one provider among many. And since I PAID for the freaking infrastructure, I'd like to see the government I ELECTED have the option to provide service on that infrastructure.

        What is clear from the article and legislation being proposed is that SBC doesn't want competitors. Had you read the article, you would have read that there are not "a lot" of Wi-Fi providers duking it our in Texas, but only two, SBC and Verizon. It's quite clear that they want a duopoly, just like they have here in northern San Diego, and they'll spilt the state up between the two of them, just like they have here in Southern California. SBC gets some areas, Verizon gets the rest. There's no locale here where you get to choose between them. It's either one or the other. It's not pretty. High cost and shitty, surly service.

        I wish you had a good point with the "do you want the government owning your ISP" argument, but sadly every ISP in America seems more than willing to comply with any government request for information or restrictions, legal or not. I just can't see how it would make any difference who my provider is, government or private, as they all operate under the same rules and restrictions.

        Sadly, I can think of at least clear benefit from "the government" owning my ISP, in that they have little financial incentive to harvest and sell information about my browsing and buying habits as so many ISPs do.
    • Good God, this may be the most depressing thing I've ever read.

      You should read more.
    • forbidding the citizens of a municipality from forming their own fire department...and making only one company the legal provider of "fire protection services"

      You're on to something there. I mean, civil disobedience has worked, but now corporations are greasing the politicians to ensure that it doesn't. So how about "enforced civil obedience"? Here's the plan:

      1) Start fire protection company
      2) ??? (oh, no...)
      3) Profit! (sorry. I had to.)
      4) Lobby for laws against government run fire protection districts,
    • This bill is no different then, let's say, forbidding the citizens of a municipality from forming their own fire department...and making only one company the legal provider of "fire protection services".

      No one's house is going to burn down because they have no internet access. This is not an issue of public safety, which is the original reason why most municipalities switched from commercial firefighters to public ones.

      In short, SBC is asking the state of Texas to provide them with a legally-approved mo
  • by sartin (238198) <sartin@ac[ ]rg ['m.o' in gap]> on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:06AM (#12176186) Homepage

    The bill history for HB789 [state.tx.us] is interesting. Notably, it shows how quickly (and without a recorded vote so those of us who live in Texas can't even accuse our representatives of actually supporting this legislation) the bill passed.

    Austin Wireless [austinwireless.net] and Austin Wireless City [austinwirelesscity.org] both have coverage of what it means to Austin. The Save Muni Wireless [savemuniwireless.org] group was put together in response to challenges like this; they include much better commentary on why HB789 is a bad idea than would be worth repeating here. If you really want to understand the issue, check some of these sites.

    Even the High Tech Broadband Coalition [unibex.com] (a group of telecom, hardware, and software companies) was against HB789.

    Several local news stories:

    For those in Texas who want this law changed, it's probably a good time to call or write your state Senator today before this bill sails through committee and a floor non-vote.

    • Notably, it shows how quickly (and without a recorded vote so those of us who live in Texas can't even accuse our representatives of actually supporting this legislation) the bill passed.

      There's no recorded vote, because it passed without objection. If you want to know how your rep voted, look at the roll call for that day. If he was there, he voted for it.
  • Consumer Activism (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CdBee (742846) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:08AM (#12176211)
    Here in Britain we also have a situation where prominent industry figures are increasingly represented on state regulatory boards.

    If you can't rely on your politicians to refuse industry funding, and the fox is guarding the henhouse as a result of this, perhaps its time for someone to start protest sites and organise bodies to protest for the consumer instead of allowing legislation for the benefit of the industry

    Protest at SBC and Verizon's offices, shops, outlets, as well as at state legislatures and ballot boxes. It might work....
  • Actually (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Inglix the Mad (576601) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:08AM (#12176217)
    I have ZERO tolerance for this crap (but am not suprised by it). I also have ZERO sympathy for any phone company. They act like THEY paid for the copper and fiber. Maybe in the last couple of years they paid for some, but our tax dollars (possibly going back to your grandparents generation) paid for MOST of the cabling in this country. At least cable companies paid for their own dang lines. Though their bloodsucking sometimes too. In the end, Texans should act like Texans and shoot these thieves.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:15AM (#12176285) Homepage
    That web site is operated by Democracy Data and Communications LLC [democracydata.com], makers of Democracy Direct 7.1 (Click for demo.) [democracydata.com]. Features include:
    • "In 48 hours, Congress is set to vote on a bill that could cost Eva's organization $50 billion. To defeat this legislation, Eva will use the Democracy Direct 7.1 Communications Wizard to mobilize her stakeholders to generate emails to targeted legislators".

      "Full grassroots and PAC management functionality"

      "Legislator targeting".

    Run the online demo. Especially the "asset tracking system", which generates maps It looks like Hollywood's vision of something a corrupt organization would use. But it's real.

  • by Spazmania (174582) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:16AM (#12176292) Homepage
    Altoona PA subsidized a local non-profit to provide dialup internet service. Same excuse as normal: promote high technology.

    The result:

    1. The non-profit did the same mediocre job that every government subsidized project does.
    2. Most of the independent ISPs (including the one I worked for) pulled out of Altoona since we couldn't compete (not enough people buy on quality; most buy on price).
    3. As broadband was deployed, all the non-ILECs stayed out of Altoona.
    4. The available options for Internet service in Altoona suck rocks.

    Government subsidized anything sucks the life out of a market and just about guarantees stagnation. They're right to block it in Texas!

    The better issue to be made is open access to the public infrastructure. The ILECs and cable companies use your right-of-way that you, the taxpayer, own. They should be compelled to open that part of their infrastructure to competitors at or near cost.

    • Obviously you've never had an internet connection provided by a for-profit company. Time Warner is much like calling the government. They don't care, they know they're the only choice you have. I think after a month or two of no service you might get a refund. Maybe. If you complain enough. I fail to see how a governmental non-profit could do worse. Perhaps just as bad...
      • And if Time Warner were required to open the public right-of-way portion of their infrastructure there would be a dozen small companies vying for your business. That would actually move towards solving the problem. Government subsidy just makes it worse.
    • Hey, if the telco's and cable companies charged per bit transported over their backbone or through their access points, they'd still see the money for transporting the bits from the city's wi-fi access points, wouldn't they?

      But, of course, the telco's and cable companies don't do that, they sell access to one customer at a time, and (in the case of the cable companies, at least) threaten users who share the access via their own wireless links.

      If the telco industry moved to charging for bits transported

    • "Government subsidized anything sucks the life out of a market and just about guarantees stagnation. They're right to block it in Texas!"

      So the people and city of Altoona shouldn't be free to decide and handle their own affairs without interference from Harrisburg simply because you happen to agree with a particular state law, reguardless of what it does to individual rights within a municipality? The people of Altoona should have to justify themselves to, say, voters in Philadelphia (among other places)
  • by kerrle (810808) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:16AM (#12176293) Journal
    The city I live in - Corpus Christi, TX - is about to become the first metro area of our size (~250,000 people) with full WiFi coverage. There's a report on it here [prontonetworks.com].

    It would really suck if we had this infrastructure and weren't able to allow people to access it - the plan was to have full Internet access from most of the city.

    The network is already up, with a nice page that explains what it is when you connect and open up IE.

    • Since the city is not the ISP in that case, it looks like this bill won't affect them. The bill allows cities to provide online access to city services, so that part is also fine.
  • Complaint (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332)
    Why did zonk squeeze this into the "hardware" department, and not politics or YRO?

    I have slashdots "politics" section blocked for a reason. I don't care about your whiney "me hatey boosh" flamefests.

    I want to read about neat hardware, and hear some discussion about things technical.

    Categorizing this news as "hardware" is pretty much akin to circumventing spam filters.

    In the future, don't try to trick me into reading about your political views.

    I am not intrigued, and would not like to subscribe to your
  • Irony.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you lookup the house journal the day of the vote, you will find a sweet bit of irony....

    "The invocation was offered by Dr. Charles D. Walton, senior pastor, First
    Baptist Church, Conroe, as follows:
    Heavenly Father, we assemble today in an effort to accomplish what is best
    for the citizens of Texas. There are good people here with good hearts, good
    minds, and good intentions even though, we confess, Lord, there are times we
    find it difficult to admit this to one another."
  • hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by sacrilicious (316896) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:44AM (#12176607) Homepage
    SBC has since put up TV ads and a website

    I suppose it's encouraging that SBC thinks there's enough of a correlation between pulic support and a bill passing that they're campaigning with ads and a website...?

  • Old Story: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:53AM (#12176721) Homepage

    Big special interests attack the weakest and most corrupt states first.
  • Living in Houston I'd like to know if anyone has had results in trying to get their opinion heard and who is the best government offical to contact. Information about the best means of contact would be good too, I know emails are said to be ignored but is faxing, mailing letters, or a phone call the most effective?
  • Go Texas! (Score:3, Funny)

    by po8 (187055) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:01PM (#12176827)

    There's some otherwise very smart people living and working in Austin on technology right now. For example, one of the two IBM Linux Technology Centers in the US is there. The other is in my hometown of Portland, Oregon---one of the most wireless-friendly cities in the nation.

    I hope Texans pass this bill, and rigorously enforce it. It'd be good for the Oregon economy.

  • Charge 1 cent (Score:4, Informative)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:38PM (#12177328) Homepage
    Fine, they want to stop free access?! Fine, we can play this game.

    If I owned a coffee shop and previously offered free WiFi access, then if this bill got passed I would charge....1 penny. And to boot, I would roll it up in the price of the coffee.

  • by iPaul (559200) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:46PM (#12177429) Homepage
    People don't realize this is part of a concerted effort to help bring Texas back to its golden age. Yes - the 19th century. With your help we can get rid of progress and innovation and create a simpler, God fearing Texas.
  • by chia_monkey (593501) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:53PM (#12177503) Journal
    ""The Texas legislature has the opportunity to modernize telecom regulation and promote innovation to finally reach our goals for new technologies and enhanced consumer benefits.""

    WTF? That's a pretty damn funny line if you ask me. Promoting innovation by stopping the spread of wireless? Yeahhh...I guess once they get this passed, they'll promote their next "innovation" by moving to a phone "system" of two soup cans and a string. They will of course charge twice what customers are paying now for the backwards phone infrastructure already in place.

C makes it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes that harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg. -- Bjarne Stroustrup

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