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Georgia Bill Would Prohibit Subsidies For Municpal Broadband

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-watch-some-tee-vee dept.

The Internet 321

McGruber writes "The Associated Press has the news that Georgia State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers is sponsoring a bill that 'would prevent public broadband providers from paying for communication networks with tax or government revenue.' Senator Rogers claims that 'The private sector is handling this exceptionally well.' Local government officials disagree. Georgia Municipal Association spokeswoman Amy Henderson says 'When cities were getting involved in broadband, it was because private industry would not come there. Without that technology, they were economically disadvantaged. We feel like it is an option cities should have.'"

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321 comments

flibst prost (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38808645)

flibst prost

Doublethink (5, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808719)

This is a corporate power bid to get public funds off their wires, so that they can claim the network as their own property, and no longer have to abide by [what is left of] the constitution. For example, laws governing privacy over publicly funded networks would cease to exist if no tax dollars went into something.

Most politics these days is something bad trying to be passed off as something good. It's important that we keep PUBLIC money invested in our infrastructure, so that nobody can make the claim of "the corporations made this possible, therefore we should let them run roughshod over us". They didn't make it possible. DARPA and our tax dollars made the internet happen when it did.

Re:Doublethink (1)

Grand Facade (35180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808981)

The other side of this coin is they don't have to get payed in moneys
There tax breaks, right of way access, perks and benefits.

However the limitations on the wires for basic phone service must be really chapping their hides because they can see the gouging that is happening in the Cellular industry and they want on that gravy train.

Re:Doublethink (5, Interesting)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809151)

I don't know about you but the only way I would accept that they own 100% of the infrastructure is if they not only stopped accepting aid from the government but also paid back all previous government aid whether it was in subsidizing, perks, tax breaks, or otherwise. Somehow, I doubt that would ever happen.

Re:Doublethink (5, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809183)

There is a danger in doing that.

If they were successful in un-coupling themselves from any designation as a public entity, then claiming they and their equipment is purely private? They lose public rights-of-way for any stretch of their network that crosses private property (including easements in some cases). That means any property owner with a cable or fiber crossing his or her property can charge rent or cut the thing, and local governments can get real evil and charge massive rent to the private ISPs for easement

(e.g. "Dear Comcast: You recently lost public utility easement rights. You now owe me $3k/month rental fee. As an alternative, you have 90 days to re-route your cable and to repair any and all damages at your expense, and with proper approval and permits by all relevant city authorities. Failure to perform either act means that I rent a bobcat to dig up and dispose of the existing fiber found on my property for non-payment").

Re:Doublethink (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809319)

Is this supposed to elicit sympathy. Oh no! They'll have to compensate people for using their land! Those poor things!

Re:Doublethink (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809603)

If they were successful in un-coupling themselves from any designation as a public entity, then claiming they and their equipment is purely private?

Corporations are public entities whose very existence is made possible by government interference with free markets in the form of various Companies Acts. So any such claim as the one you posit would be incoherent at best.

Re:Doublethink (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809195)

>>>laws governing privacy over publicly funded networks would cease to exist if no tax dollars went into something.

That's not really true. States have power to regulate anything they wish inside their borders. Look at how they regulate private electric and natural-gas companies. They can do the same with Comcast, Verizon, et cetera.

Re:Doublethink (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809271)

can != will

Re:Doublethink (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809485)

Yeah right. The States regulate everything else: Power, water, natural gas, roads, car inspections, emission inspections, land use, ........ but for some strange reason they will not regulate internet companies. That is not a logical belief.

Re:Doublethink (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809589)

You are correct. When weighing corporations vs the public interest, governments always rule in favor of public interest.

Re:Doublethink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809303)

Right, we should keep public money in our infrastructure so that people can make the claim that "government made this possible, therefore we should let them run roughshod over us".

Re:Doublethink (4, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809573)

It's important that we keep PUBLIC money invested in our infrastructure, so that nobody can make the claim of "the corporations made this possible, therefore we should let them run roughshod over us"

But this argument concedes far, far too much truth to the side of corporate lies.

Corporations may make something possible, but corporations are made possible only by government interference with free markets. Corporations exist solely because of the Companies Acts of the 1800's and their modern descendents. They are a pure product of that State for the purposes of generating particular types of public benefit, and as such may be regulated in any way required to best realize the benefits for which they were created.

But anyone who pretends that any good done by corporations is not also a public good, and fully claimable as such, is (inadvertently or otherwise) drinking the corporate kool-aid.

Re:Doublethink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809591)

No, it's a bid by small local ISPs and LECs to keep the big boys, and the cable operators from swooping in with stimulus grants, matching funds from governments, etc. and stomping all over the locals. For example, Sprint/Xohm/Clearwire came into Statesboro on a Municipal Broadband Initiative stimulus grant, offering free WiMax service to the city and other local governments, in return for charging X dollars ( I think it was $60 or so) a month to consumers. The local ISPs raised hell at City Hall apparently. Maybe Verizon had something to with it too. At any rate it was stopped. This is just an attempt to do the same at the state level.

You can also see an attempt here to shield wired service from competion from VOIP. Or that's just another way of looking at it. At any rate entrenched local interests are at stake here, too. Georgia has a lot small locally-owned ILECS with powerful local political connections.

So far so good. Now if the legislature would see fit to regulate telecom properly, ie. require fiat utility monopolies to open up DSLAMs and tariff ATM and fiber loops sensibly- you know, remove the last mile issue, then you'd see the broadband, and more particularly, the much decried dearth of rural broadband, market, and small business, explode.

Don't hold your breath, however, with the vulture capital robber barons clamping down on IP and using govt to squelch all production but their own. No matter how they have to do it. Maybe tekrat is right, come to think of it. Incautious, but right. Don't have to like it, though.

Anonymous struggling small ISP operator in GA.

This doesn't make logical sense. (4, Interesting)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808731)

I don't understand the purpose of something like this. The state is telling the counties and cities, "Hey, you're just not allowed to spend your share of tax revenues on X." I'd love to see the campaign donor list for this dude.

If the private sector is doing so well, why tell them that they have one less idea to compete against? If anything, that *discourages* private companies from making services better. Sounds like a perfect case of trying to fix something that doesn't appear to be broken.

It ends up being a boon doggle (3, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808933)

I used to live in two of the cities mentioned.

It sounds nice, it sounds like "DUH, they should be able to get into municipal broad band" ...

but everyone forgets that one detail.

Government.

So what did we end up with, lots of money spent, crap service WHERE you could get it, and you end up with the same politicized process that governs road construction and maintenance in many small towns. Meaning, commissioner X gets the potholes filled on his street, to hell with you.

So, it might make sense; for cities who cannot get a broad band provider; but far too many times you end up with a plan that looks good on paper getting rewritten so many times post approval and having so many exceptions that no one gets the service expected, let alone when, and definitely not for the agreed upon price.

I can fire AT&T and Comcast, I cannot fire my city government, and no elections don't fix it.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (5, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809043)

That could well be true, however, why do you need a state law saying municipalities CAN'T do broadband (or whatever)? What Georgia needs is home rule [wikipedia.org] legislation. Keep the state government out of things the local government can and should do.

As has been pointed out, it's rather unlikely that the legislation has been crafted 'in the best interests' of the cities. Who's the winner here?

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (1, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809313)

>>>What Georgia needs is home rule legislation. Keep the state government out of things the local government can and should do.

We ought to try this concept at the national level, instead of having Congress regulate every little thing, including what kind of lightbulb I can use (incandescents outlawed and replaced with Crap FLs). Yeah I'm a little annoyed by that last one. It made no logical sense. So I save a few pennies on electric but have to waste dollars driving to the landfill to dispose the mercury-laden bulbs. Grrrr.

ANYWAY

I agree it should be left to the cities to decide if they want to install government-run internet. A little competition against Comcast and Verizon would be a good thing

.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (1, Informative)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809397)

I've actually just replaced all my lights with LEDs.

The CFLs are terrible. They flickr and have an awful colour for the most part, but incandescents waste a ton of electricity on creating heat and burn out like twice a year.

The LED bulbs I got are comparable in color to the incandescent, run cool to the touch and use half the energy of the CFL.... and they last 25 years.

Sure you pay $20 each, but you save almost half that per bulb each year in electricity and... like i said, they last 25 years.

Try it!

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809609)

I've thought about it but LED price is nuts, and I suspect they would die early since I frequently turn them on & off (as happens with CFLs). Why can't I just use incandescents? They aren't that much worse in efficiency (3% versus 8%).

And they work in any environment, from my freezer to my stove. Inside or outside. Open fixtures or enclosed (which kills CFLs/LEDs).

If Congress is really concerned about reducing energy usage, they should stop nitpicking the few pennies saved by outlawing incandescents, and focus on outlawing leaky homes (replace them all with Passive Houses). Loss of heat is the biggest energy loss (~100 dollars per home).

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809533)

What the people of this country need is a boot up their collective asses to vote out these corrupt politicians that support legislation that is entirely against their own best interests. I say if the people of Georgia want greedy corrupt officials then let them have 'em.

Home rule is a bandaid on a bullet wound and does nothing to prevent the underlying problem of why this legislation gets thrown about in the first place.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (2, Insightful)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809071)

Actually it is not true. You cannot fire the government, neither AT&T and Comcast. And as always, there is always 3rd solution. Free the market. Remove any if not all of the regulations. Let the local IT guy build the network, support it, and earn some decent money with his skill. At the end of the day, if you are not happy with his services, you could always cross the street and %$%$%$%$% him, unlike the government and the big monopoly.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809355)

>>>You cannot fire the government, neither AT&T and Comcast.

Say what?? I fired Comcast 5 years ago and haven't regretted it since. You're wrong when you say they can't be fired by the customer.

Now if only I could find a way to fire the government-run water company; I have to pay that stupid bill (flat rate) even though I'm not hooked up. Government uses their taxing power to make you pay for services you don't want or use.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809465)

And when you "fired" Comcast, who else did you "hire"? AT&T? Different skin, the same wolf.....

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809081)

I fail to see any difference between that and Comcast where I live. One bad bureaucracy is the same as another.

I'm for competition. If the only competition we are getting is between the local monopoly provider and the local government... Well, it's better than no competition.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809391)

Ideally, Municipal Internet would be a fiber connection to each taxpaying customer where the main trunk is then connected to a major node of the Internet, or the Municipality was a major node that other neighboring Municipals would connect to forming multiple redundant links to neighboring Municipals. You really couldn't do Municipal Internet with competition because there's no real good way to connect to the Municipal line, then connect through that to an ISP of your choosing. If you did Municipal Internet, you'd have to provide free, unlimited, and unrestricted Internet to each taxpaying home, business and apartment complex. Where/how they choose to split their connection would be up to them (the apartment could limit connections based on rent, the business could firewall their customers/employees to certain sites, etc.)

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (1, Flamebait)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809093)

So, let's see if I've got this straight...

Because a city you lived in screwed up their municipal internet project and provided "crap service", you'd rather have a law that would prevent even that so that everyone would have been left with no broadband service at all?

Are you Amish?

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809101)

I hate to say it to you.

Governments aren't for profit, only the individuals working for the government are, and I suppose there might be the rare case of ideological politician.

Big corporations aren't any better than governments, they're full of politics, power play and all the crap that comes with it. It's quite baffling why you'd prefer these large companies that want to get all the money out of you and have the disadvantages of the government over a government that's primary purpose isn't to maximize profit.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809227)

So what did we end up with, lots of money spent, crap service WHERE you could get it

Hmm. Sounds just my like situation with private monopolies.

I can fire AT&T and Comcast

But you cannot hire somebody else.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (2)

twotacocombo (1529393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809265)

I can fire AT&T and Comcast

That may be harder than you think. We 'fired' AT&T for several reasons, and picked up a connection through Telepacific. Guess what? Every time the circuit goes down, we have to wait for AT&T to come fix it, because they own most of the copper from here to the moon. And let me tell you, you get even worse service from AT&T when you aren't paying them directly...

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809387)

Everyone also forgets the Tragedy of the Commons [wikipedia.org].

Public broadband (and worse yet public WIRELESS broadband) would quickly become unusable, for anything except fetching the weather report, due to massive over use by 2% of the user base. The over-grazers would just deplete the resource quickly.

Of course, municipalities could employ the same measures as private industry does to regulate usage, but just as with welfare programs once government is involved, multiple levels of consumer protection automatically attach (and rightly so, since its government), and you find out that you really can't get rid of the abusers.

And the mere existence of a government provider would prevent the situation ever improving because competition would be stonewalled. Private providers would have to fight the government for tower locations, right of way restrictions, licenses, etc. And the government, far from trying to facilitate (and thereby tax) these providers would have every incentive to block them at every turn.

No local government has any experience in running a large city wide network, and in the end the municipality would be forced to contract this out to the low-bidder. Budget constraints would prevent timely upgrades, (how can we spend one penny on broadband when children are going hungry?), and large sections of the service would fall into disrepair. Federal funds would be sought, state grants would be lobbied for, and in the end, everyone but the local citizens would be paying for that community's experiment in socialism.

The analogy to roadways bound to be raised but its not the same, and broadband is not essential any more than is TV service.

Lets face it, the allure of municipal broadband lies with the vision of free internet. Just like free public pasture land it never works out that way.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (4, Informative)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809439)

I live in one of the cities mentioned. Actually, I live in the county and here is my take:

*** Fuck him with a large rubber duck Girl-with-a-Dragon-Tattoo style. ***

Until the city implemented a broadband plan with cable TV, we had ONE choice for cable TV and virtually NO high speed internet especially in the county (Bellsouth/AT&T DSL is a massive joke to anyone who lived in the county and so was high speed internet connections). Suddenly, when the city decided "We want to attract more business to the area and also supply all of our schools with high speed internet services..." then WHOA! the local cable company went into overdrive. They started expanding their high speed internet services much faster and pushed them out into the county. They offered better bundle rates AND dropped their cost for cable TV alone. The move by the city _incentivized_ the local cable MONOPOLY to get off their ass and start offering the services to both city and county that they had been promising for a while and to bring their price down to a more competitive level.

Re:It ends up being a boon doggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809571)

You cannot fire AT&T and Comcast if they are the only show in town. This is what happens to major communities where comcast is the cable provider and the sole provider of broadband connectivity.

Re:This doesn't make logical sense. (5, Informative)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809003)

I'd love to see the campaign donor list for this dude.

Here you go. [votesmart.org]

Oddly enough, I don't see Comcast or Verizon on there.

Re:This doesn't make logical sense. (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809219)

...not yet. They want the services rendered before they pay for it.

(and there is that $39k from "uncoded"...)

Re:This doesn't make logical sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809193)

Competing with theft? Modern day doublespeak at its finest.

Create a private company (1)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808737)

Can't the city start a private company and be the sole customer? Are there laws preventing that?

Re:Create a private company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38808787)

Just give Chip a minute, I'm sure he'll come up with one...

Re:Create a private company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809047)

I think if this were me, I'd just tell the companies to get off my lawn and find their own damn right of way

Re:Create a private company (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808943)

Can't the city start a private company and be the sole customer? Are there laws preventing that?

That private company wouldn't be much of a municipal public broadband provider, they'd merely be a really small ISP.

Re:Create a private company (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809009)

That's the point.

The private company would own everything and lease it at cost to the town. It would technically be private but people would still get their internet where the existing private ones choose not to go.

Re:Create a private company (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809555)

You've basically described a community development corporation. They are private companies started by cities with the purpose of growing the community by providing infrastructure and logistics. In Texas at least, they can be funded in part through a sales tax surcharge (though this would probably run afoul of Georgia's new law there).

Typically CDCs buy land, develop its roads and infrastructure, then find companies who want to buy the prepared sites to house their workforce. The city gets paying jobs and a tax base, and the company gets the CDC to do all the legwork preparing the site/zoning/codes to support them. Unless there's a specific law against it, I could see a CDC putting in a fiber network as well.

Anonymous because I've moderated in this thread.

Re:Create a private company (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809083)

No, but you are kind of missing the point.

I grew up in a town with a municipal liquor, phone and cable company (3 separate companies.) The last 2 being “natural monopolies” (less so today, but).

The phone company was well managed, the cable company less so. Both were for profit companies and paid corporate income tax, but kicked any dividends over the city. The phone company did a good job of reinvesting in equipment, the cable company did not. The cable company kind of imploded one day (a little mismangment, a little fraud) and was sold off to a large corporation.

The real question is how cities handle quasi natural monopolies. When there is limited completion the monopoly (or, in most cases, the duopoly) can squeeze hard. And since broadband is a critical component of most business infrastructure, cities want to make sure they lots of cheap broadband. (i.e. the economic profits should flow to the business owners, not the rent seeking broadband providers.).

I am generally a free market kind of person and I think the private market should provide these kind of services. However, this is a bazooka for municipalities. If they can’t get reasonable providers in (which can be the case where I grew up – low population density, very much a natural monopoly) then I think they should be able to play this card.

Re:Create a private company (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809401)

I grew up in a town with a municipal liquor...

Municipal LIQUOR?!!?

That's an interesting concept....how does that work out?

Wow...here where I live, I just got to any grocery store, convenience store, etc...and to by my beer, wine and liquor.

So, the state/city owns and runs all the liquor stores there?

Municipal Liquor (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809557)

Selling liquor retail requires a liquor license, so the city/county only issues the license to themselves. It’s common in the small town / rural Midwest. Can’t say for anyplace else.

In my hometown, anybody can sell beer and other low point drinks, but only the city can sell the hard stuff. Partly it’s a money maker for the city. Partly it is a holdover from the temperance era. City employees are less like to sell the hard stuff to minors no matter what the profit margins are. I have seen some small towns where the only place to buy liquor (On or Off sale) is the City Bar.

Re:Create a private company (1)

cluedweasel (832743) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809561)

Here in Oregon you can buy beer and wine from the grocery store, but anything harder has to come from state-controlled stores. However, we can buy liquor direct from local distilleries. As a Brit, it all seems pretty strange and contrived. Still can't pump our own gas either, but that's another story................

you have got to be kidding. (3, Insightful)

swschrad (312009) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808749)

a locality has advantages over a corporation in placing broadband. they have no licensing fee or charter to seek. they have existing rights of way. they can line the sewers and pull fiber between the casing and the liner for free. they have bonding cost advantages. they can require franchised power and phone companies to give them free pole space because, well, they're the city. they can slip a little from general fund revenues and call it a public benefit... or create a telecom district like a water or sewer district and basically charge whatever it takes to run the place without hearings or competition.

a telco that wants to go to Poison Creek has to file for all these things, dance with lawyers all the way through, and is darn sure not going to do it if they can't make a profit over the cost of buildout, at a million to two million a mile.

this is frankly a "screw you" bill by somebody who's got a feud going with the telcos down there.

Re:you have got to be kidding. (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808889)

As well it should. Internet access should be a utility. Every place I'm aware of that has municipal internet access has a superior connection than neighboring areas without municipal internet. This is what municipal governments are for.

Re:you have got to be kidding. (5, Insightful)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808923)

Utilities and telecommunication was publicly held in Europe for a very long time.

The way starting your own service when the private sector doesn't do it usually works like this:
-build stuff with tax money
-spin it out as a publicly held company
-sell it off with a profit

And this is the right thing to do. If telcos don't want to build up because actually doing buusiness instead of just selling stock is a bit of a hassle then you build it yourself. Towns don't want their folks wander off into the City. If nobody can be arsed to sell electricity, take care of the sewage, take away the trash, keep the taps from running dry and in the 21st century provide telco services then you do it yourself.

A mayor gets voted into office for taking care of the place. As is everybody else.
Companies only have to answer their stockholders who do not give a damn if people in Stinking Dead Rat Creek get teh internets delivered in a series of tubes.

Disallowing providing service to your citizens is that is just absurd. What's next? Not allowing the town to take care of the trash since nobody thinks there's not enough money in it?

Re:you have got to be kidding. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809435)

I wouldn't hold Europe as some great example of "how to do it right". I remember in the early days of the net (80s) my European colleagues complaining about high access charges applied to their modems, plus having to pay for local calling (therefore they couldn't make large multi-hour downloads).

Meanwhile in the U.S. we had private phone monopolies (regulated by government) that added no modem surcharges and no billing for local calling. We were better-off than the EU computer users.

I'm not saying I'm against government-built companies. Just pointing-out that, for a long time, the European government companies were more of a ripoff to users than a benefit.

Re:you have got to be kidding. (1)

rbrander (73222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809513)

>a locality has advantages over a corporation in placing broadband.

And a large corporation has advantages over a small one. A smart one has advantages over a dumb one.

As a consumer, why should I want service from anybody except the provider with the most advantages?

Face it, there's some stuff that the public sphere does well.

Not everything; Wal-Mart has huge advantages over a municipal government in providing popular household purchases. Apple has huge advantages over a municipal government at inventing, manufacturing, and selling consumer electronics. Those advantages are reflected in who gets to do those jobs (not government).

I think you'd find that government has NO advantage over private companies at actually *running* an ISP. They might do well, or not. If not, it will be apparent from the price, and you'd find outraged consumers demanding the government contract out the maintenance and replacement of routers and so forth, or even sell off the wires. But if government can get the wires out there when the private firms were not getting the job done, consumers win.

Government is bad at the "agile" part of running a business; they're mostly good at doing stuff that never changes and where every customer gets the same service, and that's a feature. Policing and firefighting both used to be entirely private and society is better off (better served and more fairly served) by both going to the public sphere.

Water and Sewer utilities are mostly public, and where they are not, prices and service are not notably better (on the whole: worse as often as better), because again, those are very simple commodities. My Canadian province used to have public telephone, electric, and gas utilities, but sold those off as a wide variety of customer needs developed; telephone went soon after the Bell breakup in the States, and my city pushed the electric department out to arms-length, it now operates like a private company so as to be more agile.

If you're having trouble getting broadband in and government can do it, then do it that way - it's easy to put sunset provisions into the law so that putting it up for bid to private firms must occur after 10, or 5, or even 3 years.

Just sayin: it's worked for other utilities, and it's worked for Internet in other locations.

Obvious .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38808757)

It's obvious that these clowns don't think you should spend any tax money on anything not directly related to corporate profits.

But when the almighty market proves to be imperfect, they can't see it that way ... it's communism!! We're all gonna die!!

Sure... (1)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808767)

If by "exceptionally well" you mean "locking up the market and raping (figuratively, of course) your customers with overpriced services."

Local governments should be able to make the decision as to whether or not they want to subsidize a public broadband option, as they will know their local markets better than the state ever would.

Please beat this man until he's senseless. (3)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808771)

If your private businesses don't want to come into town and lay wire and such, so the local government has to step in to provide a service that many countries consider a fundamental human right to have... Don't pee down the back of the municipalities and then say it's raining. And guys, given that this is Georgia, why don't you just do a little bit of country justice on this guy... say with a large amount of tar, feathers, and a prompt adjustment of his attitude.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808875)

Whoever thinks that a service is a 'fundamental human right' is a fucking idiot.

A fundamental human right cannot be something that somebody must PROVIDE one with.

--

As to this bill - whatever, it's a locality business, really, it's a business of that municipality.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809077)

Is there any particular reason why that class of things would be necessarily excluded from the list?(I'm not saying that they are on it, just that there isn't any obvious reason why they couldn't conceivably be).

The notion of a 'fundamental human right' is really just a bit of emotional embellishment given to rights that the people discussing them feel particularly strongly about. The arguments that something is a 'fundamental human right' tend either to be pragmatic arguments about why it would be a good idea for everybody to have that right(with a touch of handwaving at the end, to justify the jump from 'pragmatically desireable human right' to the much nicer sounding 'fundamental human right'...) or simple bald assertions on no solid basis whatsoever("All men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights"..)

Given the rather sorry foundations of the field, it seems that just about anything could be asserted or denied to be a "fundamental right", subject to the restriction that some assertions or denials are likely to go better than others...

Blank Check (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809339)

Because this class of rights is a blank check. It is very different to say that you can do something verse you must be provided with something.

In order to freedom of speech, religion, or to bear arms all I needs is a few federal judges and a few zealots (ACLU, Christian Right, NRA, etc.).

In order to provide medical care, education, or broadband access I have to start writing out big checks. Do I have to run fiber out the middle of nowhere for 1 guy? Is a 99% solution acceptable? A 80% solution?

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809383)

A fundamental right of a person cannot impose an obligation upon another person, that's all I need to say about this.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809563)

A fundamental right of a person cannot impose an obligation upon another person, that's all I need to say about this.

All rights do. If I have a right to life, for example, then you are obligated not to take my life.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809209)

Freedom of Speech and Assembly ARE fundemental rights. In the *Modern* world being able to connect to the internet is essential for the practice of those liberties.

As for the *provide* statement I'm assuming you jest. Unless you consider a right to a fair trial, equal protection or protection from cruel punishment somtething that is not *provided* to you.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809361)

Freedom of speech does not mean that anybody must PROVIDE YOU WITH THE MEANS of speaking.

It's only that government cannot prevent you from expressing your views however you can and decide to do it.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809537)

Just forget it. These people don't want to see what you mean. They're being dense on purpose.
 
But I tell you what, the second one of these retards gets free internet access under the guise of 1st Amendment rights I'm going to be going to the same government agency and ask when they're going to hand me a gun.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (1)

mozumder (178398) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809459)

A fundamental human right cannot be something that somebody must PROVIDE one with.

You do know that there's no such rule as this.

Government exists everywhere, and any "want" can be a "right", given the choice of the government to do so.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809489)

Nope, impossible, it's a temporary entitlement, not a right, it ends once the system is broke and it will go break with ideas like that.

There cannot be a right that puts an obligation on somebody to provide whoever has that 'right' with some product or service - impossible.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809511)

Is power, clean water, and/or 911 service a fundamental human right? explain

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809613)

But no-one says it has to be supplied for free.

Re:Please beat this man until he's senseless. (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809057)

most times it's not businesses not wanting to come to town but the town wanting the business to spend ridiculous amounts of money on yarn museums or something useless just to show that they aren't going to make money off the residents. or making them pay too much for the rights to lay wiring

An analog to the public option in healthcare... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38808783)

This is an analog to the public option in healthcare. Even if no private firm wants to drop in a communications infrastructure, better to have nothing at all than the government do it.

And we wonder why US cities are so hostile to live in, and where people flee to the suburbs...

Oh, what a crock... (3, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808789)

Go ask the people of Wilson, North Carolina how well private interests provided high speed to them. [zeropaid.com]

Then ask the people of Monticello, Minnesota

These state-sponsored monopolies have gone on long enough. If the 'private market' market will not meet the demand, what else are people supposed to do? Just deal with shit-tier internet at exorbitant prices? Bullshit on that...the major ISPs are no worse than the MAFIAA or the Cartels.

Re:Oh, what a crock... (1)

cmdr_klarg (629569) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809291)

Go ask the people of Wilson, North Carolina how well private interests provided high speed to them. [zeropaid.com]

Then ask the people of Monticello, Minnesota

These state-sponsored monopolies have gone on long enough. If the 'private market' market will not meet the demand, what else are people supposed to do? Just deal with shit-tier internet at exorbitant prices? Bullshit on that...the major ISPs are no worse than the MAFIAA or the Cartels.

My older brother used to run an ISP in Monticello, and was doing quite well until TDS got the FCC to allow them to raise their tariffs. They squeezed him out of business by quadrupling the price for an T1.

Zero-sum? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38808793)

I keep hearing from persons of a certain political persuasion that wealth creation is not a zero-sum game; that they want the "whole pie" to grow so that "we can all be wealthy." Why, then, do they keep proposing legislation that creates mandatory losers?

Re:Zero-sum? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808891)

Of-course it's not a zero-sum game, when iPhones were first created, they became a market in themselves, a market that didn't exist previously. Any new thing that people create where there was no such thing before is creation of new wealth, not extraction of existing wealth and redirection of it.

Re:Zero-sum? (1)

SecurityTheatre (2427858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809525)

Arguably, the creation of the iPhone took a tiny fraction of sales from many things including newspapers, televisions, movie theatres, computers, game consoles.

I agree it's not necessarily zero-sum in the strict sense, but consumers did not "create" the cash used on iPhones out of nothing. They had to come out of a family's budget in other areas, usually things that provide comparable enjoyment or functionality... perhaps a monthly trip to a bowling alley, a premium TV channel, several movie rentals, and buying a second computer for the den.

There is SOME concept that iPhones might make people more "efficient" and increase the "size of the pie" but some small fraction of a percent. But it still reduces expenditures in other areas, on the whole.

Mistaking the fact that it is NOT "zero-sum", with the concept that the actual "net increase in sum" is a tiny fraction of the amount of funds diverted... is VERY VERY important.

The exact same argument applies in economics.

When the mythical "wealthy" take a larger portion... perhaps they do increase the "size of the pie", but not by nearly as much as the fraction they take. In other words, it's not zero sum, but it's not "equal share increase" either.

Frankly, both arguments "redistributed the limited share of the whole pie" and "we can all wealthy with a bigger pie" are both silly polemic on the far opposite ends of the spectrum and the truth is somewhere in the middle, as it usually is.

Beware of AP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38808819)

If the associated press had the story then the government wants the story out.

The "private market" already took government money (4, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808861)

The "private market" has already used millions of dollars of federal tax money to build out their networks. So basically what this law is saying is that it was okay for the incumbent operators to take tax money, but bar any new competition from doing the same.

That sounds more like a protection racket than a free market policy.

Re:The "private market" already took government mo (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808961)

Two wrongs make a right then?

Re:The "private market" already took government mo (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809257)

Yes. Yes it does in real life. When a gun is pointed at you, pointing your gun at them serves at as an equalizer even if your gun is only a pistol and their gun is a rifle. Being virtuous is only good if the wrong are actively fought against AND corrected. This is however is rarely the case in real life. The wrongs that are done, are rarely corrected afterwards. Not equalizing the situation will only pile on the wrongs slowly without any balance.

typo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38808895)

Municpal -> Municipal

That's capitalism. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808919)

Private minorities' profit interests versus the people's interests.

And again, private minorities who have stake in something readily attempt to block progress and keep the entire public under control - even if that means they wont be able to enjoy the amenities of 21st century.

And they only will be able to do it when some private interests think that they can make good money over them.

Not capitalism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809311)

This is a case of government forbidding competition in a free market. That's not capitalism. And no, the fact that certain private entities benefit from it doesn't make it capitalism.

Attracting new jobs (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808925)

What even worse is - a healthy Broadband implementation in a city can attract new jobs. Look at what Alpharetta has done.

Campaign Contributions? (1)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808987)

Can anyone find out if he received any recent campaign contributions and from whom? All I could find was for 2008 [ballotpedia.org].

Don't AT&T etc get goverment breaks already (5, Interesting)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38808995)

If this bill passes I would expect an immediately ordered audit of all current providers to prove that they in no way used any public money to fund their infrastrucure. If they did then the public should be asking for the money back.

--The "private market" has already used billions of dollars of federal tax money to build out their networks. So basically what this law is saying is that it was okay for the incumbent operators to take tax money, but bar any new competition from doing the same.--

So if the bill passes the current providers should be asked to pay it all back with interest.

Just get something along those lines added to the bill and watch it disappear real fast.

I would be fine with it if ... (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809029)

I would be fine with this bill if it also prohibited subsidies of any private business as well. Take away their special property taxes, tax increment finances, lowering their local corporate rates, right of ways, government backed loans, government bonding, ability to eminent domain, and any other such government provided benefit that gives them a business advantage over the free market.

For Some Odd Values of "Well" (2)

richg74 (650636) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809045)

Senator Rogers claims that 'The private sector is handling this exceptionally well.'

Someone should explain to this idiot that, if a competitive market is delivering a good service, then the private sector will do just fine without having some potential competitors excluded.

public funds are nice in theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809105)

Where I live the city subsidized a "super fast" infrastructure and then leased it out to private companies. Both government and private companies fucked it up and now I am forced by the city to pay $10 per month extra on my city utilities bill to bailout the failed project (it was never available in my neighborhood).

This is Georgia Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809111)

They're probably against municipal broadband because a Democrat, somewhere, at some time, was for it. These folks are driven out of pure spite.

Municipal Last Mile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38809245)

Municipal Last Mile. That is all...

Competition? (2)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809253)

It's amazing how efforts like this work ... if the telcon has the rights to build the network, but just can't get off their ass to actually build it out, they seem to like to wait until the municipality has paid for all of the up-front costs (telco gear, etc.), and then suddenly, the phone company is calling up everyone in the area, telling 'em they'll have their service in place really soon, and a month later, they've strung everything and are signing up customers, trying to undercut the municipality so they can show it as yet another case where 'municipal broadband didn't work'. (this was Frankfort, KY in the 1990s ... municipal was going to run fiber to the home, and suddenly Bell South is rolling out DSL)

It also happened with other non-municipal competition ... in my current town in Maryland, we were on the bottom of the list with Comcast to upgrade to fiber .... but we sign a franchise agreement with Verizon for TV service, and suddenly we're at the top of their list and they're installing weeks later (without notifying us that they were going to be blocking off streets for the work)

Nothing wrong with this bill (2)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809385)

From what I read, a municipality can still operate its own broadband. It just can't use tax money.

If a community wants to, it can raise funds in a non-profit manner and build out their own broadband. Too many people think only government or corporations can run anything.

In reality, non-profits, mutuals, small business, guilds... all have long histories.

I am against governments using tax money for broadband. It is just too easy for them to just use tax money for whatever. If they want to, they should get people on board, having the community invest in the non-profit entity...

Stadiums, Cable TV and Enterprise Zones, not Wifi! (0)

mounthood (993037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38809503)

Subsidies are for Stadiums, Cable TV and Enterprise Zones, not for public access to the internet! The internet can either survive on its own without government subsidies, or it doesn't deserve to exist!

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