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Judge Tosses Telco Suit Over City-Owned Network

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the why-not-sue-the-state-for-building-roads dept.

The Courts 281

tsa sends along news of the city of Monticello, Minnesota, which was sued by their local telco, Bridgewater Telephone Company, because the city chose to build a fiber optics network of their own. The judge dismissed their complaint of competition by a governmental organization. Quoting: "The judge's ruling is noteworthy for two things: (1) the judge's complete dismissal of Bridgewater Telephone Company's complaint and (2) his obvious anger at the underfunding of Minnesota's state courts. Indeed, the longest footnote in the opinion is an extended jeremiad about how much work judges are under and why it took so long to decide this case."

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Costly Waste of Time (5, Insightful)

mfh (56) | about 6 years ago | (#25326859)

IANAL, but the second part is a warning to TDS against trying to waste more court time. The judge is saying that he's busy enough and therefore if TDS tries to revisit this, it would be another costly loss.

TDS lost a lot of money going after the city. They also lost a lot of revenue because they are now going to try and compete with the city (lol). And they lost the support of their community, who knows they sued the city for unwarranted tax dollars, and taxpayers love bailouts.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Insightful)

electrictroy (912290) | about 6 years ago | (#25326897)

Cry me a river.

They lost money.

Oh well! UPS and FedEx lose money every day competing against the government's postal service, and yet they both seem to be doing quite well. Instead of trying to use government to give Bridgewater Telephone a guaranteed monopoly, maybe they should take a page from UPS/FedEx and learn to compete.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Insightful)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about 6 years ago | (#25326921)

We can't have any competition that may actually lead to adequate service

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | about 6 years ago | (#25326929)

Exactly. Now they're saying, "Well now the town will have 2 networks!" Yeah, you have to COMPETE now Asshat! WTF do these people come from?

Re:Costly Waste of Time (2, Funny)

Probie (1353495) | about 6 years ago | (#25326995)

had it to easy for two long!

Re:Costly Waste of Time (2, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327711)

Do you really consider it competition when the government can arbitrarily cripple your business as need be?

And what if I don't like either service. Where's the 3rd company? Oh, that's right, companies aren't allowed to lay their own fiber - government restriction. You call this competition?

Troll? I love it (0, Troll)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327853)

Make sense, stick to principles, and you're labeled a troll. Resort to what's convenient, throw principles out the window, espouse pragmatism, and you're +5 Insightful.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

jahudabudy (714731) | about 6 years ago | (#25328237)

Oh, that's right, companies aren't allowed to lay their own fiber - government restriction.

Huh? Why would the government prevent a company from laying their own fiber - on their own property? Or are you complaining that private companies aren't being allowed to use public right of ways?

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25328353)

Huh? Why would the government prevent a company from laying their own fiber - on their own property?

I'm talking about new companies, or companies from other regions, that want to expand their business, not companies that have already laid cable in the ground and can just stick fiber in the same space. Call your city and ask if you're allowed to stick fiber optic in the ground along your street. They will laugh and hang up.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (2, Informative)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about 6 years ago | (#25328377)

And what if I don't like either service. Where's the 3rd company? Oh, that's right, companies aren't allowed to lay their own fiber - government restriction. You call this competition?

I wouldn't say the government can prevent usage of easements for cabling. But they sure can make it a pain in the ass for the company. However, should they prevent usage of the easements, that could be fought in court. So to use easements, you should have some cash in the bank.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25328391)

So to use easements, you should have some cash in the bank.

Exactly. You would need more money than you would under an entirely free system, so here we have government manipulation of the economy dissuading the existence of competition.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about 6 years ago | (#25328479)

True. But you really can't start any business without capital of some kind. (minus the "did my own web page pimping out my coder skills")

And with the credit market like it is....well, it'll be a while for new business growth.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#25328449)

Why would the government arbitrarily cripple a business? Besides the fact that if they did, they would be sued.

COmpanies lay their own fiber all the time. Yes there are government rule regaurding this, but considering they need to rip up roaads, dig through property, and use the underground infrastruture that makes sense.

BTW, the 'Government' needs permission to do this as well.

I mean, really. How do you think the first company got fiber in the first place?

Yes, this is competition. And no one has to guarantee you a service the meets some standard you want...except government agencies.

Two Options (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25328489)

Even if there were three companies, you would complain about the lack of a fourth. But three is better than two, and two options are better than one. So this is clearly a step in the right direction. Take away the telecom monopoly and give people a choice.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Insightful)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about 6 years ago | (#25327191)

Only on /. would sarcasm be marked as Insightful

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 6 years ago | (#25327391)

Pretty sure it was understood as such....

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 6 years ago | (#25327427)

Sarcasm is often times both. Watch Idiocracy for a good example.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327721)

Idiocracy is a pseudo-documentary. You didn't really think it was about the future did you?

headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25328139)

Been reading the headlines for the past few weeks. Idiocracy is the here and now, forget the future.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1, Insightful)

Gewalt (1200451) | about 6 years ago | (#25327515)

Must be due to /.'s monopoly on blog comment scoring

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | about 6 years ago | (#25327445)

This, of course, assumes that the government can do a better job with its limited knowledge, expertise, and equipment. I find it hard to imagine that running fiber around is cheaper, but it must mean that their city buildings are right next door to each other or on the same block. There are few things that I have experienced the government doing better than a competitive private sector.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Insightful)

FireStormZ (1315639) | about 6 years ago | (#25327653)

"This, of course, assumes that the government can do a better job with its limited knowledge, expertise, and equipment."

Its not hard today to throw a rock and hit an able network/systems admin or three and many good ones who live locally might be willing to take a slight pay cut to avoid the commute into MSP or just for the fact a govt job is a much less stressful place than private industry.

"I find it hard to imagine that running fiber around is cheaper, but it must mean that their city buildings are right next door to each other or on the same block."

Cheaper than what? its probably slightly cheaper for them than the teleco's (after all they can way speed up their own permit process). And they seem to be reasonably densely populated (and small) for such a move

Area
  - Total 6.2 sq mi (16.1 km)

Population (2000)
  - Total 11,414
  - Density 1,264.6/sq mi (488.3/km)

Actually its pretty densely populated (and small)

--

"There are few things that I have experienced the government doing better than a competitive private sector."

I generally agree with this but when a government *wants* to do something like this I prefer its a local government and not the state or federal.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

electrictroy (912290) | about 6 years ago | (#25327695)

>>>There are few things that I have experienced the government doing better than a competitive private sector.

Yet another reason Bridgewater Telephone's lawsuit was silly. Surely they have enough competence to outcompete a bunch of gov't bureaucrats. The private company will probably run circles around the government's poor service.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 6 years ago | (#25327835)

The city doesn't lay or design anything, they contract it out just like most of the big telecom companies.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Informative)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 6 years ago | (#25327991)

*sigh* YOU just made me lose some mod points. But nevermind. Since 1970s, Memphis Light Gas and Water has been running power cables with FIBER inside. In other words, the entire city is full of dark fiber. How much extra did it cost to run the fiber? Not that much, just the incremental cost over what it cost to have power lines that were empty in the middle, instead of being filled with fiber.

What is to stop this city from doing the same thing? It probably already did that, and that is why it feels that it can provide fiber to the house.

Just because *YOU* don't have experience does not mean that your experience is right. People working in government agencies do not start their day thinking how they can be inefficient for you.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Funny)

mweather (1089505) | about 6 years ago | (#25328195)

People working in government agencies do not start their day thinking how they can be inefficient for you.

Some things come naturally.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#25328483)

Most government agencies are not inefficient at all, and have less waste then private industries.

A bureaucracy is very good at getting complex things done well.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (2, Insightful)

gsgriffin (1195771) | about 6 years ago | (#25328379)

Now I think we're heading down a whole new road. This expands the question as to how much you want the government doing for us. Do you want them to provide internet, and then phone, and then cable, and then power, and then the newspaper, and then what? Just because they used tax dollars to put in an infrastructure? Shouldn't we then get he service for free or next to free (just cost of maintenance? That would make them too competitive over the free market which would have to go out-of-pocket to build infrastructure. I guess I'm of the other political view that says government should only govern and not provide everything for a community.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 6 years ago | (#25328325)

Goverment doesn't have to do better than a competetive private sector. They can pretend to do better by leveraging their monopoly on takin' people's money at gunpoint into other areas.

More like brilliant ploy to spur development (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25328045)

If I was the mayor of a small town, I might use this sort of thing to my advantage.

1- Announce plan to roll out municipal/residential fiber network.
2- Sell enough bonds for stage 1 of the project. Naturally, that would pay for linking any city buildings and schools.
3- Goad local telco into suing the city, delaying the municipal project while they roll out their own project.
4- Make press releases as to schedule of when residential roll-out will be done.
5- Once local telco has a significant subscriber base, drop the residential project as too costly.
6- PROFIT!!! for the telco. I make press releases cheering how I avoided needlessly growing local government and publicly praising the local telco for their visionary (and affordable) residential fiber Internet service.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (5, Informative)

SneakyMishkin (1298729) | about 6 years ago | (#25326937)

You had better take a look at this http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2007/06/13/canadapostups.html [www.cbc.ca] . UPS didn't WANT to compete, they wanted to sue. Just like everyone else.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

electrictroy (912290) | about 6 years ago | (#25327733)

It's a shame. I'd love to hire UPS to do my local mail delivery. Maybe then my bills would end-up in MY mailbox, instead of somebody else's mailbox. (I know 18 Kimberly and 18 Denise Street are both girls names, but come on government postman. They're different streets!)

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327647)

Do you send regular mail through UPS or FedEx? No. I don't know about you, but I'd trust them more with my mail than the USPS. I've had so much shit lost/stolen in transit (valuables, loan applications, etc), I'm always surprised when something makes it through. If the government got out of the business of providing a poor, unprofitable service, businesses with an interest in profit could take over and make them profitable, more efficient, and more reliable.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Insightful)

mweather (1089505) | about 6 years ago | (#25328213)

If the government got out of the business of providing a poor, unprofitable service, businesses with an interest in profit could take over and make them profitable, more efficient, and more reliable.

More likely private industry would take over the profitable routes dropping all the unprofitable ones, making the service much worse than it already is.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25328327)

What is this based on besides wishful thinking? Look at the history of the light bulb and the early development of the electric grid, and you'll see people making profit while providing a service to everyone.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 6 years ago | (#25327043)

TDS lost a lot of money going after the city. They also lost a lot of revenue because they are now going to try and compete with the city (lol).

For any competent private company, it is very easy to compete with the city. Hence the original suit.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | about 6 years ago | (#25327049)

Costly? They got one of their staff legal team to draft a complaint to tie them up in court for a while. TDS never wanted to win. Just to slow the city down.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (5, Insightful)

JosKarith (757063) | about 6 years ago | (#25327315)

There really needs to be a robust system to punish people/companies that file obvious "nuisance lawsuits". The current system simply doesn't work at all.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (2, Interesting)

cHiphead (17854) | about 6 years ago | (#25327577)

There is, but there's essentially nothing you can do about it, its a flaw in the system that can't be fixed short of catapulting lawyers that ignore ethics requirements into outer space.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (5, Informative)

Locklin (1074657) | about 6 years ago | (#25327761)

It's called loser-pays. We have it up here in Canada, that and less lawsuits.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Insightful)

Gewalt (1200451) | about 6 years ago | (#25327389)

This was no waste of money.

They didn't "lose" money on the lawsuit. They "made an investment". The whole point of the lawsuit was to give them a head-start in the competition against the city. They just wanted to tie the cities coffers so they could start their fiber roll-out before the city did. They succeeded in this goal, so their "investment" paid off big time for them.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | about 6 years ago | (#25327719)

Nice "investment", especially since the community is going to go with the govt network just out of spite.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (2, Interesting)

Altus (1034) | about 6 years ago | (#25327725)

Have they started rolling out fiber?

Because I know if I were a big wig in this city and this company was stopping this project, I would make a point of having their permit applications for fiber installation conveniently "lost" behind various pieces of office furniture.

If this gave the telco an opportunity to get ahead its only because the city didn't play hardball.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

Gewalt (1200451) | about 6 years ago | (#25327757)

Have they started rolling out fiber?

Yes, according to some other article I read on some other site, they have already accomplished 10% of their planned 200 miles of fiber runs. Meanwhile, the municipality could not access the funds it needed to purchase the supplies to begin the project.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (-1, Flamebait)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327811)

Because I know if I were a big wig in this city and this company was stopping this project, I would make a point of having their permit applications for fiber installation conveniently "lost" behind various pieces of office furniture.

That's exactly why these services should not be provided by the government - any government. As soon as you can physically force your competition out of business, your role becomes unjustifiable.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327961)

Isn't that what the Teclo did with its lawsuit? They used a tactic to delay the City in starting its project, but that is okay. The City responding in kind, to only even the playing field, is somehow supposedly wrong?

 

Re:Costly Waste of Time (2)

Altus (1034) | about 6 years ago | (#25327965)

Not much different from what the telco is trying to do with the courts. They stopped the government from providing a service to its citizens. A service that, presumably, the citizens want.

Its the Telco that is clearly in the wrong here.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (0)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25328071)

They stopped the government from providing a service to its citizens.

First, the government should not be providing such a service. If the people actually want it, then companies should be springing forth to provide the service. However, companies are not permitted to lay more lines due to government restriction. Thus the situation we're in now.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

Altus (1034) | about 6 years ago | (#25328129)

Why shouldn't the government provide communication services if the local residents want them to do just that?

What companies are not permitted to lay down more lines due to government restriction?

Re:Costly Waste of Time (3, Insightful)

mullens101 (1053534) | about 6 years ago | (#25328029)

This from someone who probably has decent internet service. I live at the end of a DSL run, cannot get cable, cannot get WiMax ... 512K DSL is the fastest I can get. I've called many communications providers and always get "Sorry, we have no intentions of improving/offering services in your area". No competition = no incentive to do anything better. I'm typically against gov't competition but in areas where there is a one provider monopoly (this covers ALOT of rural america), the consumer is screwed by this policy.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25328103)

This from someone who probably has decent internet service. I live at the end of a DSL run, cannot get cable, cannot get WiMax ... 512K DSL is the fastest I can get.

Who's preventing other companies from providing the service that you want? If the demand is high enough, nothing should be stopping people from getting the service they demand. The only thing that could prohibit such a service is physical force - in this case, government restriction against the laying of lines, among other restrictions.

Re:Costly Waste of Time (4, Insightful)

mullens101 (1053534) | about 6 years ago | (#25328297)

OK, I'll bite here ...

If the demand is high enough

Dude, America has one hell of a lot of rural areas where demand does not meet financial justification. This is exactly why the gov't passed a bill a few years ago to provide something like $200 million in incentives to have telecos service rural areas. The gov't recognized the criticality of decent internet service for US competition in world markets and therefore provided great financial benefits for telecos to run broadband to rural areas. The telecos took the cash and ran. Why is it OK for the telecos to take cash dedicated to a specific cause and screw the taxpayers but it's evil for the government to say "if you don't do it, we will"? There are some cases (and in this case, MANY very compelling cases) where the government is completely justified in offering services to force competition where none exists today and none is likely in the foreseeable future. If this teleco was the only decent game in town, they might wake up and realize that they are not immune from competition.

While the economy fails, we still have grammar (4, Informative)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | about 6 years ago | (#25327087)

A jeremiad is by definition an "extended critique".

May the Grammar Nazis have mercy on you.

Re:Jeremiad! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327225)

Jeremiad was a JudgeFrog,
Was a good friend of mine,
Slapped down the Telco ...

Re:Jeremiad! (1)

BrunoBigfoot (996441) | about 6 years ago | (#25327459)

I didn't understand a single word he said. But they should have paid a fine.

Re:Jeremiad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327613)

...and we wish it was a mighty fine fine.

Re:While the economy fails, we still have grammar (1)

LMacG (118321) | about 6 years ago | (#25327633)

Merriam Webster disagrees - "a prolonged lamentation or complaint ; also : a cautionary or angry harangue"

Government could have fought back (4, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 6 years ago | (#25327119)

I imagine that the telco must have had to get permits to lay their own fiber. The government could have blocked those requests until the result of the case was decided, thus cancelling-out the telco's attempt to delay the government and get a head start. I wonder why this didn't happen?

Re:Government could have fought back (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327269)

Because blocking legitimate requests for development is generally not allowed. I know California has strict time limits for certain actions, and if no action is taken within a given period, there is the possibility for legal repercussions.

In other words, a jurisdiction can't just say "we don't like it, go away" or "wait until we have what we want." There have to be actual grounds to put something on hold, or even more to deny a project all-together.

Re:Government could have fought back (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | about 6 years ago | (#25327519)

Here's justification for you: The soliciting party is engaged in a lawsuit against the city over a similar plan by the city, until the lawsuit is concluded the city is unsure of how they will move forward with their deployment and if the soliciting parties proposal will interfere with the cities plans. Once the lawsuit is concluded the city will finalize their plans and evaluate the soliciting parties request for permission to dig, the city will provide a detailed plan to the soliciting party no later than 90 days after the conclusion of the lawsuit.

Re:Government could have fought back (1)

cHiphead (17854) | about 6 years ago | (#25327609)

But its not a legitimate request when it is made simply to keep the municipality in question from starting while the litigant stalls implementation. If the requests were made in advance of the municipality deciding to build a network, fine, if not, they should have been required to wait until the dispute was resolved.

Re:Government could have fought back (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 6 years ago | (#25327275)

Which would actually support the plaintiff's assertion that the government is abusing its regulatory powers to secure an unfair competitive advantage.

Re:Government could have fought back (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327933)

The government by definition secures an unfair advantage every time politicians accept any bribe, enforce any monopoly through the restriction of competition, or otherwise manipulate the economy by supporting arbitrary causes (related to the bribes I already mentioned).

Re:Government could have fought back (4, Insightful)

michrech (468134) | about 6 years ago | (#25327409)

Probably because there was no reason to deny them the permits they needed. To do so would have been a corrupt, let alone shitty, thing to do.

I don't know about the rest of the world, however, if I were a city entity involved in a lawsuit with a telco company, I'm going to do everything in my power to be seen as treating people (especially those suing me) as fairly as possible. You don't want to get a pissed off judge any ammunition to use in his/her making an example of you. That, and it's just the right thing to do, and I wish more people felt that way.

Re:Government could have fought back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327937)

Come on now, you should understand: Telco companies are not people...

Re:Government could have fought back (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327997)

To do so would have been a corrupt, let alone shitty, thing to do.

But when it's convenient, surely you can throw all principles and rights out the window! ;)

Re:Government could have fought back (0, Flamebait)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327619)

That's exactly why these services should not be provided by the government, any government. As soon as you can physically force your competition out of business, your role becomes unjustifiable.

Re:Government could have fought back (3, Insightful)

Fishead (658061) | about 6 years ago | (#25327865)

How's it working out for you having your government take a "hands off" approach to your banks? (assuming you are an American).

Ted Rogers was on CBC the other day, and made a comment about how when he was sitting on a board of a bank, there was one bank regulator (govt official) for every member of the bank at all the bank meetings. He said he didn't understand the need for the government oversight until now.

My personal belief is that the government (the people, remember) should own ALL the infrastructure and license it to private service providers. I know it isn't perfect, but I feel it is the best. Businesses have one goal, making a profit. Governments have (or should have) one goal, providing a service to the constituents.

That's what I like about Canada. Now if we can only just elect a majourity government so we can get something done instead of just arguing...

Re:Government could have fought back (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327905)

How's it working out for you having your government take a "hands off" approach to your banks? (assuming you are an American).

Clue yourself in. The subprime crisis was caused by government intervention, not by any "hands off" approach. Just because people can co-opt the word "deregulation" for their own purposes doesn't mean any less regulation is occurring. Check out this excellent article written 8 years ago that predicted the whole thing, down to the huge dollar amount:

The Trillion-Dollar Bank Shakedown That Bodes Ill for Cities [city-journal.org]

Re:Government could have fought back (2, Interesting)

mullens101 (1053534) | about 6 years ago | (#25328167)

Invisible Pink Unicorn ... Get a clue on what rural America is like. Rail all you want against government competition but realize that probably most geographic area of the US has little to no competition in telecom. As of May, we were 17th in the world for Broadband penetration ... this is precisely because there is NO competition in most areas. It was fine for the government to interfere when the interference was to provide hundreds of millions in incentives for servicing rural areas, but holding the providers to actually using the money as intended or forcing competition upon them is a no no? Your arguments would hold up if there actually was competition in all areas. Again ... talk to me about this when you live in a rural area and can only get shitty service from a low speed "high speed" service ... max out at 512K DSL and realize that no other provider has any intention of servicing your area and therefore the current provider has no intention of upgrading you ... then tell me how great no competition at all is.

Re:Government could have fought back (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25328299)

Rail all you want against government competition but realize that probably most geographic area of the US has little to no competition in telecom.

And what's preventing that competition from existing? Surely there must be a huge demand for it, right? You want it. Everyone wants it. So don't companies see this demand, and want to fulfill it? What can prevent them from doing so except for physical force, and what entity can apply physical force except for the government?

I know. (4, Funny)

AltGrendel (175092) | about 6 years ago | (#25327125)

Let's all send the judge $5.00.

Re:I know. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 6 years ago | (#25327809)

According to Wikipedia, "As of September 2008, the world's population is estimated to be about 7.0 billion (7,002,000,000)."

Somehow I don't think the judge should get 35 billions dollars for his verdict.

Re:I know. (1)

bendodge (998616) | about 6 years ago | (#25327823)

I think that's called bribery.

Missing the main point... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327135)

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet...

This gives other community precedence in other lawsuits across the nation.

Once one telco falls, hopefully the other lawsuits will fall also, just like a row of dominos.

Re:Missing the main point... (0, Flamebait)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327669)

Yes, because it's better to have the government run the service than to have a choice between two, five, ten companies competing to give you the best service possible.

[/sarcasm]

Re:Missing the main point... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 6 years ago | (#25327951)

Regardless of how you feel personally about this, the city of Montecello has decided that communications are a utility & will be developed as such. It was probably voted on in a city council meeting with input from the cities constituents. How do you justify taking that municipal right away?

It's a two-way street with no easy answers, but I know it's a lot easier to vote out a city council than to get a telecom company to improve their service.

Re:Missing the main point... (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25328243)

It was probably voted on in a city council meeting with input from the cities constituents. How do you justify taking that municipal right away?

What does "right away" mean? Do you mean "right of way"? First, rights apply only to individuals, not to government entities, which are charged with protecting and upholding individual rights. Second, you can't vote away rights. Sure, you can pass laws that violate rights, but those rights still exist and are still being violated. Rights violations are never justified.

Re:Missing the main point... (2, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | about 6 years ago | (#25328371)

A group of people exercising a right to do something they've all agreed on? You aren't really that obtuse are you? Are you going to start bitching that we don't have 5 or 6 power companies per city or something now? Or just keep twisting my words around?

Care to post the quote? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327141)

Indeed, the longest footnote in the opinion is an extended jeremiad about how much work judges are under and why it took so long to decide this case.

So noteworthy that Ars didn't even bother to quote it, I see. Can someone post the footnote for our reading pleasure, or link to the ruling and give us a hint where we may find this particular footnote?

What every telco wants... (5, Insightful)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 6 years ago | (#25327199)

Because, let's face it, what every telco wants is to provide all communities of 12,000 people with fiber to the house. What a load of crap. TDS was doing their dog-in-the-manger act, and now is only putting in fiber as an act of revenge.

Re:What every telco wants... (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | about 6 years ago | (#25327309)

What a load of crap. TDS was doing their dog-in-the-manger act, and now is only putting in fiber as an act of revenge.

Business as usual at $US_PHONE_COMPANY

Re:What every telco wants... (0, Flamebait)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327689)

If people demand fiber, they'll get it, if only the government would permit companies to lay it down as they please. However, low demand combined with government restriction means "No fiber for you!"

I'm surprised... (5, Informative)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 6 years ago | (#25327283)

Usually a smart telco doesn't sue, they simply bribe the legislature [acluutah.org] into restricting their municipal competition (bottom of page).

(Basically, Comcast and Qwest bribed the Utah legislature into stopping their multi-muni competitor, UTOPIA, in Utah. The Utah ACLU's letter against such action is here: http://www.acluutah.org/utopia.htm [acluutah.org] )

Re:I'm surprised... (1)

intothemiddle (1142025) | about 6 years ago | (#25327549)

I believe the precedent was in this case [imdb.com]

Re:I'm surprised... (2, Interesting)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25327779)

Let's not be one-sided now. Those companies may have offered the bribe, but the legislature accepted it, and is now enforcing the monopoly. Who's the bigger offender here?

Re:I'm surprised... (1)

Insanity Defense (1232008) | about 6 years ago | (#25328321)

Personally I think that being a corrupt government official should be called treason. Corrupting a government official should also be considered treason.

Re:I'm surprised... (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 6 years ago | (#25328375)

Corrupting a government official should also be considered treason.

How do you "corrupt government officials"? Please explain. Are they puppies without minds of their own or the sense to reject bribes?

If the government was banned from economic intervention, there would be absolutely no incentive for companies offer any bribes.

The city won on more ways than one.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327439)

....since they've accomplished their goal of getting fibre access for their constituents.

And they dont even have to pay for it. If they drop their fibre plans now, BTC will still be completing their own fibre upgrades.

Maybe was the city's plan all along, to scare the telco into committing to an upgrade that they were clearly not wanting to do of their own volition.

jeremiad ? (3, Funny)

CPNABEND (742114) | about 6 years ago | (#25327467)

Um, my vocabulary includes FORTRAN, COBOL and BASIC. Couldn't you have said "bitch" instead of "jeremiad"?

Re:jeremiad ? (4, Funny)

cHiphead (17854) | about 6 years ago | (#25327637)

your decision to gerrymander on the subject is an aloof attempt to cause disruptive comprehension of the litigous subjects in question.

rawr.

Re:jeremiad ? (1)

skjrag (533832) | about 6 years ago | (#25327819)

I think you need an 'obfuscate' in there somewhere.

Re:jeremiad ? (1)

RMH101 (636144) | about 6 years ago | (#25327897)

It's there already, it's just obfuscated.

Thank you, Judge! (3, Funny)

CaptainOfSpray (1229754) | about 6 years ago | (#25327681)

"jeremiad", now that's what Mark Twain would have called a 10-dollar word. I love it, and now I can dump my 10-cent word "rant".

Considering... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327697)

That the judge is making 280,000 a year. we all can call him and say.

WAH big baby.

Boo fricken hoo (1)

Kohath (38547) | about 6 years ago | (#25327699)

Maybe the judge will have to start working 5 day weeks or holding court past 3 PM.

Here's an idea to help: just start summarily dismissing criminal charges where there's no victim.

Re:Boo fricken hoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25328051)

So your solution is to increase overtime pay for all the employees of the court. Brilliant.

Re:Boo fricken hoo (0)

mweather (1089505) | about 6 years ago | (#25328227)

Here's an idea to help: just start summarily dismissing criminal charges where there's no victim.

Wouldn't legalizing drugs & prostitution accomplish the same thing?

TDS Telecom (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25327817)

I used to work for TDS. It doesnt surprise me that they would try a sneaky underhanded approach like suing the city while they start their own fiber network. TDS quite possibly has some of the worst quality of service Ive seen from an ISP. Their standard line is "Send them a new modem" even if its their equipment at the head end that is junk. They oversell their bandwidth all the time resulting in customers calling and saying they have a 3 meg connection, but can barely pull 1 meg tops. Their sales staff only compounds the issue by trying to boost everyone connection up as high as possible and then breaking their connection because their line cant handle a 4 meg connection because TDS never updates any of their hardware.

TDS is just another bad ISP/Telco that wants to maintain their monopoly on whatever they have. I personally hope that every citizen in that town gets their service from the town, dropping TDS like a bad habit.

Interesting (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 6 years ago | (#25328409)

The article attached to this piece has a very interesting one liner, "We sue because we care." If only people believed that hogwash. The only reason Bridgewater sued Monticello was because if Monticello had deployed that network, Bridgewater would be out of business. It has nothing to do with care or concern for the citizenry but concern about profit and loss. The only reason Bridgewater was placed in this situation to begin with was because they were not going to spend money to improve the poor quality and paucity of broadband for Monticello. Instead, Bridgwater took to the media and its own advertising campaign to tout its "advanced" network. Meanwhile, the truth of the matter suggested otherwise. What a shame that it took a lawsuit for them to wake up and stop smelling the crap they were shovelling. Hooray for the people of Monticello for taking public action when the private sector would not.
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