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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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  • 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.
  • 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.

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

    by OpenGLFan (56206) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:13AM (#12176263) Homepage
    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 fight this?
  • 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.

  • 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 [].

    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.

  • 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 YoJ (20860) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:19AM (#12176334) Journal
    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 service is excludable, i.e. only people who pay for the service get it, then private industry is a better option. The free market will come up with more efficient solutions than a government if the service is excludable, but the government solution will be more efficient if the service is not excludable. Under the principle of excludability, roads should be government funded, universities should be private, electricity should be private, air pollution should be regulated by the government, libraries should be private. What about wireless? I think right now there is a significant cost of excluding non-payers. This is the login window where you enter your Cingular account info (or whatever). But, this time cost is much smaller than the monthly wireless service charges, so I believe that wireless should not be provided by the government. I can also imagine many technological measures that make excluding non-payers very cheap.
  • 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.

  • Complaint (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stratjakt (596332) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:26AM (#12176409) Journal
    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 newsletter.
  • Re:Get a grip. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by denissmith (31123) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:35AM (#12176510)
    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 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. Try it.
  • by awhelan (781773) on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:35AM (#12176513) Homepage
    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 and put you out of business, that would be awful for you, but it doesn't make libraries a bad idea.

    How is this different than Microsoft giving away Internet Explorer to drive Netscape out of business?

    Intent? The government would do this (all corruption theories aside) to provide citizens with a free service, not to tighten their monopolistic grip on the Wi-Fi Market.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:35AM (#12176514)
    The thing is that bias isn't like Jayson Blair making things up. Bias is simply the result of only reporting what you want to report. How do you prove or disprove that unless you're on the inside?
  • by brontus3927 (865730) <> on Friday April 08, 2005 @11:37AM (#12176532) Homepage Journal
    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 or sells at cost to local charities that give away computers.
  • 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.
  • Re:Actually (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cdagobah (612641) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:08PM (#12176903)
    And who do you think pays for the maintenance of the cable?!? The phone companies spend millions of dollars every year making sure that the cable the runs to your house is free from defects. This year alone, El Nino has cost SBC over 70 million dollars in extra cable and service repairs here in California.

    Another point which I'm sure you are unaware is that back before the divestiture in 1984, almost all cable in between central offices was copper. Since then, most if not all phone companies have upgraded their inter-office cable to fiber which is far more reliable. Also, the investment in a telephone network is not in the cable alone. In an era where we are consistently challenging Moore's Law, investment in faster transport technologies has been a requirement to keep up the pace. Very little of the government purchased network even exists in its original form compared to what is currently employed.

    Don't get me wrong though, I disagree with SBCs tactics to stifile competition but as a service company, very few are able to compete in reliability.
  • by kmeister62 (699493) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:09PM (#12176913)
    I find this interesting. Here in Virginia the Gas company (read monopoly) on providing service to your house has been deregulated. I am at liberty to purchase my natural gas from any supplier I wish. The gas company must provide service across their lines to my house. I pay a distribution fee that covers the cost of gas line maintenance and service to get the gas to my house over the monopoly lines. The distro charge is regulated to ensure the consumer isn't gouged by the monopoly. My bill has two parts. 1st is from the gas supplier I contract with to provide me the actual gas. The 2nd part is for the distribution costs. This is a flat fee plus a per unit usage charge. The old gas company has broken into two parts. The gas supplier and the infrastructure provider. This is a win-win. I get service over regulated lines while the actual product I can choose the best or least cost supplier. I can also make any long term contract for supplies I wish. IMHO, wired telecommunications services where there is necessarily a monopoly for the last mile should use the same model. The last mile provider is a regulated monopoly while the customer has the ability to contract from any service provider they choose. The monopoly would exist even if there were multiple cables to your house, (ie, CATV and Telephone). This would encourage infrastructure upgrades since the monopoly would be able to recover costs with a reasonable profit for newer technology. Any service provider would have access to customers over the infrastructure at non discriminatory pricing, (Ie; everyone gets charged the same) no matter whether its another division of the monopoly or another company. Electric power is moving in the same direction. (Yeah, I know. CA screwed it up big time.)
  • by maxpublic (450413) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:43PM (#12177393) Homepage
    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.

  • by Mattintosh (758112) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:45PM (#12177410)
    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, and be sure to cite these telecom laws as a basis for why you would ask for such a thing
    5)a) Law passes.
    6)a) PROFIT! (again!)
    5)b) Law fails.
    6)b) Make a massive stink about telecom companies getting preferencial treatment and turn the public against them.

    Enforce civil obedience upon the telecoms. Make them your bitch.
  • Section 53.401 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mikael (484) on Friday April 08, 2005 @12:53PM (#12177498)
    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 been accepted by the commission.
    (b) An affected person, the office on behalf of residential
    or small commercial customers, or the commission may file a
    complaint at the commission challenging whether the pricing by a
    rural incumbent local exchange company of a new service is in
    compliance with Subsection (a).

    How is restricting rural companies from offering competitive based pricing going to help boost competition? Why are urban companies not prohibited from doing the same?
  • 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.
  • by Displaced Cajun (20400) on Friday April 08, 2005 @01:27PM (#12177879)
    911 Voip web site [] Lots of ads here in the Dallas area on the radio and tv about this subject. Now I see the SBC is behind all of this.
  • by Guppy06 (410832) * on Friday April 08, 2005 @01:56PM (#12178202)
    "Amtrak is failing because it offers a service no one wants,"

    Nobody wants to ride a train, or nobody wants to ride a train on rail networks designed to move freight, where passenger trains need to slow down and let trains owned by the rail owners have the priority?
  • by petecarlson (457202) on Friday April 08, 2005 @04:29PM (#12180015) Homepage Journal

    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 were developed which allowed one pair of wires to push multiple conversations. Next someone figured out that the conversations had blank spaces in them and by using a digital signal we can now push multiple calls over one pair.

    Right now I am using 802.11b in an area with ~5 other WiSPs there are also thousands of residential APs and other sources of noise. By using directional antennas and filters, I am able to make things work well. As devices and spectrum become available, I will migrate to pread spectrum devices for my backhaul.

    Sell the spectrum to one company and they will figure out a way to make a profit and then do nothing more.

    Sell the spectrum to a couple of big companies and they will compete minimally. There will be some inovation but not much. Soon they will buy each other and we will be back at case one.

    Give most of the spectrum back to the people and we will figure out better ways to utilize it. There will be turbulence in the market but the best providers will win. Inovation will rule and the public will benifit.

    I believe that the spectrum is public property to be used by all. Good neighbor regulation is all we need. Listen first, try not to cause interfearance.


"Success covers a multitude of blunders." -- George Bernard Shaw