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Verizon Seeks To Nix Fee-Based Municipal Wireless Grids

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the evian-sues-local-over-city-water dept.

Wireless Networking 286

millermp writes "It looks like Verizon has succeeded in banning municipal WiFi networks in Pennsylvania. Since Verizon is looking to broadband service to fuel its growth, it calls municipal WiFi 'unfair competition.' This bill is following similar legislation earlier this year in Utah, Louisiana, and Florida." The bill has yet to be signed by Pennsylvania's governor, and as the story says, does not ban municipal wireless per se, but would place great restrictions on how it could be funded.

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More Harm (5, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905727)

I failed to see how this Bill, if passed, can help Verizon.

If the intention is to help poor residents to gain internet access as stated, the city may just offer the service for free, and makes up the costs from potential economic growth, maybe?

Otherwise, if this service is privatized, Verizon may face even more aggressive competition from the new WiFi operator, whose interest won't not be confined to just poorer neighborhoods and less densely populated ones.

Re:More Harm (1)

aklix (801048) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905827)

Well let's hope for the sake of the internet this bill is rejected, as I beleive Verizon is responsible for a decent part of the American Infrastructure.

Funding? (3, Insightful)

SultanCemil (722533) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905732)

How can they possibly seek to stop a community funded effort to set up a wireless network on public property? This seems absurd, even for Verizon.

Unfair competition? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905737)

Fine, then there should be a section in the law to *mandate* competetion rather than sweetheart deals to allow local monopolies like they have with phone service.

Re:Unfair competition? (3, Insightful)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905919)

Or maybe, at a minimum, something like, "Fine, if you will roll out broadband into that area within one year of when we propose our wireless network, then we won't do the wireless. Otherwise, we're not in competition with you anyway, so get lost."

Except said in legislature-speak, of course.

Re:Unfair competition? (1)

Drakonite (523948) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906156)

Add in a line about a price cap otherwise it'd be asking for a world of hurt.

Re:Willing to pay for competition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906040)

Why should that company that invested all the time and resources into laying those lines just roll over and let somebody else piggy back off of their investment? It is not a matter of monopoly but a matter of a high cost and high risk investment sane business people are not willing to make. Unless you are willing to pay for extra lines and enjoy the sight of them you might want to check your facts and shat up till then.

Think about the cost to install an entire network from scrach, staffing, advertising, and then be able to start churning profits in two years while competing with a well established and known local name.


Who the hell modded this tripe up???????


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906294)

This is complete crap and demonstrating a lack of understanding of community services and how major projects such as POTS is deployed and used in terms of competition.


I would think... (4, Insightful)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905742)

That the criteria for whether or not to do wifi, would be:

"does this help the residents of the state recieve a service they desire, without asking too much of them in tax".

Instead of:

"does this hurt a crappy regional monopoly wring more cash from customer's wallet, or does it hurt that holy quest for profit".

Then again, I'm not a politician.

Re:I would think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905799)

Its a matter of Communism versus Capitalism. Except this time i think the Monopoly is worse since the whole idea of Capitalism is to have competition to ideally get competitive rates.

Justification to not compete (3, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905990)

The problem I have with city, county, or state provided wireless is that not everyone needs the service.

Combine this with the fact that with a government group running it you will run afoul of all sorts of special groups demanding free access let alone those imposing their views on what is and what is not acceptable.

Don't think so, its not hard to shop for courts that favor one view or another.

Think about it, the first whine will be "Its for the children", then comes "they are a disenfranchised group", followed by "well of course group X should get a free ride". Until you finally have yet another government program sucking dollars out of your pocket to buy votes.

Corporations may not have your intrest in mind but at least they are an equal opportunity screw. I don't need another "airport" - as in - lets stick all of our cronies into that service to draw fat checks and provide no work other than being a crony.

That's not how you create competition (2, Interesting)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906022)

What the Pennsylvania state legislature should do is look for ways to provide incentives for private citizens to create private sector competition. With this plan you aren't getting "crappy monopoly versus cheap municipal wifi" perse. What you are getting is "crappy corporate monopoly versus probably very crappy, restricted state monopoly." You are basically getting two large entities which really don't have your interests at heart to fight it out, in the end it'll probably be the government that wins and you'll just end up with AmTrak-level QoS for your WiFi.

Personally I like the fact that in my small town in Virginia, I am able to go into many of the new stores and get either free wireless or very, very low cost wireless. As efficient as our state government is, I wouldn't trust the government for my internet access.

A better solution would be to encourage businesses to provide free wireless connectivity to their customers in exchange for lower or non-existant taxes. Not only do you get cheaper WiFi, but you also get a healthier local economy.

Re:I would think... (2, Interesting)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906131)

And I would think the criteria should be: "can private industry provide this service in a more economical way for those that desire to use it, without increasing taxes on those that don't wish to use it, nor giving free access to those that don't pay for it?"

Then again, that kind of talk doesn't let politicians buy votes.

my humble opinion (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905752)

n07 q|_|1t3 frist ps0t b 17]|-|3 55!!!!!!!!111111

How long... (5, Insightful)

DoraLives (622001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905759)

before the book publishers and other media producers successfully lobby to have public funding for libraries choked off?

Re:How long... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905934)

Actually, they already have done that.

Science site shutdown robs the public []

Verizon wants to have their cake and eat it too (5, Funny)

DARKFORCE123 (525408) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905762)

Community : Please Verizon roll out your high speed internet services for us.
Verizon : I'm sorry . Your current community doesn't have a sufficient return on investment for us to build a high speed network in your area.
Community : Fine . Then we will have a community funded wireless network which is easily available with today's technology.
Verizon : No, you cannot do this!
Community : Why not ? You said you didn't want to invest in infrastructure in our community or that it would take 7-10 years even if you decide to do something.
Verizon : Well .... Well .... Because!

What's worse (4, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905850)

Often the places that don't get broadband are the poorest. When @home started offering broadband service in my area, a pal who lived 15 miles away saw how much better it was then dial-up so he called to get it too. They said it was not available in his area. Years have passed and they have not offered it.

I love the idea of a town saying we want to provide this service, and we can do it for a fraction of the cost. It reminds me of my college housing, where the collective purchase power of all the apartments was leveraged by the owner of the property to get us satelite tv for a few bucks a month, something like 80% off the normal price.

Re:What's worse (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906335)

Working together to help each other out? Communism!!! How will the big corporations make the money they so richly deserve with all you stinking red commies out there? It's as bad as those Canadians with their evil commie cheap drugs!!1!11!1!!

Re:Verizon wants to have their cake and eat it too (5, Insightful)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906053)

Perhaps it is time for another program akin to the Rural Electrification Program in the country. The Federal Government will aid in providing broad band access in areas where it is not currently available. The arguments being made by Verizon were made back in the 1930's as well by the electrical companies.

Re:Verizon wants to have their cake and eat it too (4, Interesting)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906147)

And telephone as well, hundreds of Rural Telephone Co-ops are in the US because Ma Bell and/or GTE didn't want to provide service to small rural markets, like mine. Government subsidized loans to start, co-operative ownership, and now, the very best in services. We [] have a DSL, video, and Dial tone service that covers most of our service area (and we are expanding, dropping DSL heads every 12000' takes time), 80/month for 768/384, digital cable and landline phone is pretty good, plus you get a dividend check on any profits made by the phone company, I love it.

Why not compete? (2, Insightful)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905766)

I don't see any reason why the government should take a bunch of money out of my pocket to do a lousy job at providing a service that private industry could do.

In the long run, if there's competition in the market, service qualities will go up and prices will go down. A government monopoly funded by tax dollars will give government style service with no incentive to keep costs down.

Re:Why not compete? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905849)

you may think differently if you are in a rural area considered not a profitable investment for a large company like Verizon to build a high-speed internet infastructure. Companies will not move into a rural area unless they expect some kind of return.

Such wi-fi networks will further connect those to the internet who cannot stand the dial-up speeds on an internet geared towards those with highspeed. There will be no such competition in any small town so don't expect to see verizon or other internet companies fighting over the few internet users in a city of 5000.

Re:Why not compete? (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906110)

Such a rural area will not have the tax income, nor the density to set up something like this.

If it's not cost effective for Verizon, how is it cost effective for the local government?

Re:Why not compete? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906319)

Such a rural area will not have the tax income, nor the density to set up something like this.
If it's not cost effective for Verizon, how is it cost effective for the local government?

Maybe it's not cost effective from a profit standpoint, but profit is not the reason the government wants to do this. Some things are not profitable but need to be done, like highway maintenance and preventing pollution.

Though, it might be more cost effective to distribute the cost to everyone?

Re:Why not compete? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906119)

someone should talk to the people at MacOnline in McMinnville, OR ( for how they do things. They provide wireless DSL access (via LOS) here in the Willamette Valley. There is also another similar provider in Independence or Monmouth, OR.

SDSL 768k w/ static IP address, minimalistic ToS. I can't complain!

Seems to me that if you can get enough customer base to pay for a T1 or OC3, you might be able to do something similar as well.

Re:Why not compete? (4, Interesting)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905873)

Yeah that is true, but that's the problem the private industry doesn't always want to provide the service. Most of these towns doing this are small podunk towns that won't see broadband within the next decade in any shape or form.

The privates shouldn't have any say in what people want to do locally especially when economic growth hinges on being able to provide some sort of broadband access these days.

It's like saying to the locals "no you can't have cars because Mobile doesn't want to put in a gas station in their town."

Re:Why not compete? (2, Insightful)

cfulmer (3166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905991)

I don't think the telecom companies would be opposed if it were about small towns where they don't want to provide the service -- the main impetus for this is Philadephia's plan to cover the city with wifi. (For those on the West Coast, Philly is the largest city in PA.)

THe other problem is that this isn't just cutting into some future service that one of the telcos wants to provide -- it will cut into service that they're already providing. They have to be concerned about people dropping their DSL or Cable Modem service. Why would you pay for high-speed access when you can put up an antenna, especially when you're already paying for wifi service through your taxes?

Re:Why not compete? (3, Interesting)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906072)

This is true, but the telco's have been going after the small towns first since they don't have the resources (the right politicians in their pockets) to fight off the legal challenges they'll use to set a precident to fight the larger cities and their rollouts.

I'm just looking forward to the day when connecting to the internet means putting an advanced wifi antenna (if they can ever beat the routing problems) on your roof and using an ad-lib connection which uses other peoples antenas to span the distances, and forgo the monthly cost all together. A one time purchase of hardware to create a network that is self expanding and self upgrading.

Re:Why not compete? (1)

Vombatus (777631) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906305)

For those on the West Coast, Philly is the largest city in PA.

I am on the east coast (more or less) and I have no clue where or what a PA is. Philly is also a soft cheese, but I couldn't imagine living there.

FWIW, I am in Australia - well outside the USA borders (for now)

Re:Why not compete? (2, Insightful)

maximilln (654768) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905979)

I don't see any reason why the government should take a bunch of money out of my pocket to do a lousy job at providing a service that private industry could do

At least this time they would be doing something that you know about, so you could guestimate about what it would cost in equipment and administration to put it all together. It's just aps and routers. Access would be open if all the residents were on it so there'd be no need for encryption any stronger than what you use with a standard ISP. You would know if and when you were getting fleeced and you could contact your politicians properly about it.

Oh wait. Your politicians don't want you to bother them if you're right. Strike everything I've said...

"Heaven forbid that you ask us, your politicians, to take on a task which we know is full well within the capabilities of individual citizens and the private industry. We wouldn't want to waste your taxpayer money by administering this service through the government. We have public health care to think about!."

Re:Why not compete? (4, Informative)

dfm3 (830843) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906193)

if there's competition in the market, service qualities will go up and prices will go down. A government monopoly funded by tax dollars will give government style service with no incentive to keep costs down. (emphasis mine) Of course, the key here is competition in the market. Where I live, I would pay more than double for cable service than someone who lives across town, because two different providers have mini- monopolies in each area. Of course, we wanted to go with the cheaper provider (for basically the same level of service), but were told that we had no choice because of our location. Hmm... they have no competition in our neighborhood, so it seems that there is no incentive to keep costs down...

Other unfair government services (5, Funny)

KillerDeathRobot (818062) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905770)

It's not fair that the government provides us free police force and firemen. The private companies can't compete and its killing the economy.

Re:Other unfair government services (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905920)

Ask your average homeowner if police and fire services are free.

Re:Other unfair government services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906184)

Yeah, well, my house hasn't burnt down so I certainly shouldn't have to be paying for fire service for people who have burnt down their house.

Re:Other unfair government services (2, Informative)

software_trainer (828294) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905966)

Actually, Phoenix has one of the best fire companies in the nation and it's private by subscription. Also, don't forget all those volunteer fire companies in suburbs, small towns and rural areas. Their high level of service for the negligible price negates the need for most local governments to fund a fire company. Also, private security officers outnumber local police by five to one in this country. So, there is competition in providing police and fire services.

My point here is not to make you "wrong" for saying that Verizon is a crybaby. It's just to show that even for services that are usually thought of as government functions, when a private company comes along and provides that service, it's often better than the government. When you need to send a package overnight, guaranteed, do you choose FedEx/UPS or the Post Office?

Philly's wifi service must be paid for by the people of Philadelphia. If the gov't provides the service, there's no incentive to excell and it costs everyone more. Even if you fund it with a tax on businesses or the rich, every tax dollar you take from a business or a rich person eventually comes out of the pocket of a poorer person. Where do you think that business/rich person will go to replenish the money the gov't just took from them? They'll charge higher prices or more interest or donate less to charity, etc.

If you let the businesses compete for the wifi customers, then there's competition to drive down prices and drive up quality. Eventually, the service becomes affordable to poorer people and everyone ends up paying less in the end. Example: I park in a low-income neighborhood every day and see plenty of cell phones around me. That happened without gov't subsidies or gov't-run cell phone companies. It can happen for wifi, too, if we're patient and give the free market a chance. Sometimes the most compassionate thing we can do is let the "heartless capitalists" do what they do best: produce good products at low prices.

Re:Other unfair government services (1)

FFFish (7567) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906063)

It's not fair that the government provides us free schools and teachers. The private companies can't... oh. Wait. They've already been privatized: =view&id=198

Free? (1)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906165)

Thank you for the perfect example of why government sucks. You only think those services are free and provided by the government because you don't pay the taxes that cover the cost!

You're also implying that all police forces are government-based. False.

Next you'll tell me the government provides us with free schooling. Ignore that I pay for it with my property taxes, and that I have no children attending those schools.

Then you'll be telling me that government provides us with the ambulances that get you to the hospital. In most areas, this is false, those are actually run by private companies, who then bill the hospitals, who then bill you. Seems to work out OK. How many lives do ambulances/paramedics save every year? Shit, and they're not even run by the government. How can that be?

The private companies can compete with the police forces and the firemen, because there are areas of the country that have private police and fire forces.


Re:Free? (4, Insightful)

Suburbanpride (755823) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906276)

I got in a car accident about 6 years ago, and was fine except for a few bruises, although the car fliped end over end. I was aminor at the time, and the police forced me into an ambulance before my mom got there. The ride to the hospital was about 3 miles, and cost $1000. at the hospital, the hooked up an IV and put on a heart rate monitor in case of internal injuries and then all the docotrs and nurses went to lunch. Being bored, I decided to disconect my heart monitor to see what happen. I watched my line go flat, and no on e ever came. 30 minutes later, they decided they need to room, so they pulled out the IV and put me into waiting room while my mom signed the papers. the bill $5000.

I also got a ticket for crossing the median, although the car was upside down when i crossed it.

That was totaly off topic, but my point was that anyone without health insurance would be bankrupt in an accident like that. I would much rather see my taxes go to fund more public health efforts and lost cost interent than to subsidize big corporations.

Governemnt is a nessecary evil. no cou.ld never get a private compnay to build higways or any other public infastructure without the price being prohibitve for most people.

This isn't that bad. (0)

eeg3 (785382) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905779)

What if the company you worked at had to face free, government-supplied competition? It'd be devastated. Tons of verizon employees would be out of jobs, and the economy would be hurt. Not to mention, what about the tax-payers that have to fund this?

The country revolves around capitalism, not socialism. If you want a strong economy, you can't have the government supplying everything. Take your choice.

Any group or organization can still offer free wireless throughout cities or areas. That's not banned. The only thing banned is the government doing it.

Personally, I support the bill.

Re:This isn't that bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905801)

Tons of verizon employees

Assuming that the average slashbot is a fair measure, that's what? Half a dozen or so?

Re:You miss the point of capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906008)

If Verizon cannot compete with a government agency, then perhaps their business and business model is flawed and needs to be flushed to make way for progress. The market will regulate this and should, not the courts.

Should those people lose their jobs, I am sorry but others should open up if the Bush regime decides to do something right for once.

See, this is the government on the one side... (4, Interesting)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905786)

Just about any service offered by a government is going to put some private enterprise in a pinch by undercutting the private company's prices. Doesn't this show that the government can, in some rare cases, beat the market in pricing? How much more is Verizon planning on gouging customers than the market can bear?

It sounds more like Verizon can't beat the competition with market prices, so they seek to put the competition out of business. Of course, the competition is actually the government, so Verizon is going to have a hell of a time trying to beat them.

At the Federal level, the government should be responsible for very little. Protection of citizens, regulation of interstate/international commerce/etc. But on the local level, it is nice to have the community band together to solve local problems. Go Pennsylvania!

Re:See, this is the government on the one side... (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906139)

Yes, the govt can undercut a corporation on prices. They don't have to show a profit. They can provide the service at or below cost. Or even free.

Of course, that means it is subsidised by the taxpayers. And as such, it stands far more chance of being regulated. The local equivalent of the FCC might be doing the filtering.

This is a sign of the times (5, Funny)

adolfojp (730818) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905796)

It is a sad world to live in where you can get sued for giving away stuff for free.

Whats next? Microsoft suing [insert favorite Linux distro here] because their free operating system is unfair competition to MS? Pharmaceutical companies suing a charity that gives away free vaccines to babies because then the people won't buy as many of the competing brand vaccines?

...oh wait! Shit like that already happens everywhere everyday.


Re:This is a sign of the times (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905843)

It's not free. They are going to tax everyone to provide a service to a few. Thus we arrive at the inherit problem with government.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905936)

Yes, exactly.

Re:This is a sign of the times (1)

ptudor (22537) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905975)

An AC writes "It's not free. They are going to tax everyone to provide a service to a few. Thus we arrive at the inherit problem with government."

He saved me the time of typing it out myself and it's a Troll?

It's not free.

you mean like schools? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906061)

I don't have any kids. Many of my neighbors don't either. Yet my property taxes pay for the local schools.

Taxing all to give to a few is not a new phenomenon, nor is it necessarily a bad thing.

Re:This is a sign of the times (5, Insightful)

mrbuttboy (460308) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906186)

Your right,everyone should only get what they can afford.Health care? Not my problem. Schools? Let the kids learn on their own. Fire? Call some friends to put it out. Another country invading you? Hire someone to help who is bigger.

Governments WORK. Over 4000 years of history laugh at you for suggesting otherwise. You think it is pure CHANCE that governments tend to get bigger? Revolution is just another form of evolution.

The question in this case is not about what is wrong with governments but where should governments spend the money they have. To me,building an infrastructure such as a completely wifi covered city, is something that has unknown future value but seems could very quickly end up benefiting a HUGE percentage of the population. But then I don't live in Philadelphia so what I like matters even less on how they spend their money.

Re:This is a sign of the times (2, Insightful)

Daniel (1678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906223)

Actually, this bill outlaws providing the service *for a fee*. So the net effect of the bill will be to *increase* the amount of tax money going to set the wireless up.


Re:This is a sign of the times (2, Insightful)

Chrontius (654879) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905877)

A pity you can't get a '+5 depressing' mod, 'cause that's what that really is.

Re:This is a sign of the times (2, Funny)

Y0tsuya (659802) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906129)

Like how Microsoft was sued for giving away IE?

Re:This is a sign of the times (1)

mcgroarty (633843) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906263)

Free as in "nationalized for the good of the people," am I rite Comrade?

Seriously. You have to understand that it is never the job of the government to compete with business when business or community can deliver a service. This was part of the reason that the Post Office was privatized. Where it used to be impractical for business to compete in delivery across the entire nation, it became possible with newer transportation technology, and so the government forced the post office to become self-sustaining in part to keep it from being a subsidized program interfering with private enterprise. (Gosh, that was a long sentence.)

In the US, federal government belongs only where business or community cannot or will not provide a service necessary for supporting your rights. State governments can further build on these rights, but only to a limited degree.

This is bad... (4, Insightful)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905803)

This is a perfect example of how money should not mix with politics. Verizon gives money to candidates who then write bad laws.

Politicians have a responsibility to the people they represent, not to making some CEO wealthy.

So, if my small town decides they want to use their collective purchase power and set up a wi-fi, then Verizon feels threatened? Unfair competition? How? Verison could lower their fee and be more competitive.

The Unofficial Public WiFi (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906215)

If the problem is one of the network being an official municipal structure, then let's make it not so official.

Set up a non-profit group to actually run the shindig and have some large anonomous donations get the ball rolling.

If the cable modem provider in the area is a local group, they could just hand out Wi-Fi routers and leave them all unlocked for access while running a cut-throat "give up your DSL" promotion that never seems to end. Eventually the market penetration will cause the routers to overlap all over the city.

(Yeah, I know, there's some interfereance and signal hopping issues to work out here).

This is just brainstorming, so don't accept it as a well thought out idea.

Here's what's really unfair (3, Insightful)

nysus (162232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905813)

That one single person (because that's what corporations are under the law) can have so much power because they have money.

Re:Here's what's really unfair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906190)

...except corporations can't directly donate to political things. However, their executives can. And they can set up their own PACs as well, and donate through them.

If you look through the political contribution lists, it's never "Enron gave $$$ to the RNC", it's "Ken Lay, CEO of Enron, gave $$$ to the RNC".

You're missing the root cause (0, Flamebait)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906201)

one single person (because that's what corporations are under the law) can have so much power because they have money.

I am assuming you're a liberal, because you seem to be anti-corporation, and that is generally from that side of the spectrum. Excuse me if I'm wrong, however, assuming this, I will make my point:

The problem is not that the corporations have this much influence on politics, it is that the government (the Congress) has been abusing their power to write laws that abridge our freedoms.

The reason I commented about your assumed liberalism is that liberals tend to want to give the government more and more money via taxes. A rich government is a powerful government.

If the government stuck to the constitution and just worried about enforcing the rights laid out in the constitution, protecting the country from military attack, and locking up violent criminals, we'd not be having a conversation about how much influence corporations have on the process. They'd have the same influence as me and you because THE CONGRESS WOULD NOT BE CREATING ALL THESE FUCKING LAWS.

Re:Here's what's really unfair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906275)

Not only is it one single person... but he's IMAGINARY. He only exists in DOCUMENTS. That's the really scary part.

This is too bad to see. (5, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905814)

As if we needed another example of how corporations like innovation only when they are profiting from it, and will not stand in its way only if it does not interfere with their business model. It is especially a shame to see that this is Verizon, who I almost had some respect for after they stood up for their subscribers' privacy against the RIAA.

I've seen claims that the government-offered service would be inferior and too costly. If that's the case, Verizon has nothing to worry about-people will flock to them, and the government will kill off the project for lack of interest.

On the other hand, if it is possible to set up an inexpensive, or free, wireless network, across a whole city, publicly funded or otherwise, this is an interesting idea which needs to be explored, not stifled to grant a favor to a massive corporation. If it's a bad idea, it'll die off quite nicely on its own.

Re:This is too bad to see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905862)

The problem is paying. People who use Verizon's service will still be forced to pay for the government's service even though they do not wish to use it. Most will decide that they don't want to pay for both and simply choose the one they are forced to chose.

Re:This is too bad to see. (5, Insightful)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905910)

Fallacious. I pay for roads even if I don't drive a car, schools even if I don't have children, police officers even if I never need to be protected from a crime, and parks and open space even if I choose never to visit them. Government's job is to do things which benefit a large number of people, and yes, they do that through taxation. Because not every single person to whom a government service is available chooses to use it does not mean that that service should not be offered. This seems, however, to be a shining example of how a large-scale, citywide project could benefit a large number of people, including areas in which it might be unprofitable for a corporation to offer that service.

Re:This is too bad to see. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906222)

People who believe a service should be offered for free should start a fund drive and pool their contributions to offer it, rather than forcibly confiscating the funds through taxation.

Don't tell me this wouldn't work. Otherwise I want them to stop all those breast cancer marathons and such, because voluntary donation will never find a cure.

We always assume something should be done by the government just because we think it's the only thing big enough to solve the problem. But that results in the majority being able to tyrannically rule the minority. (51% of people might think funding Wi-Fi is important, while 49% might think the money should be spent on county hospitals.) Instead of starting with government as the first answer to every problem, I'd like people to consider starting their OWN entity collecting funds to fix it.

Re:This is too bad to see. (1)

maximilln (654768) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905992)

As if we needed another example of how corporations like innovation only when they are profiting from it

Oooooh! Online registration.

You'll never find a device driver or get a technical support person as fast as they can kill your ability to play a video game these days.

Re:This is too bad to see. (1)

mcgroarty (633843) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906280)

Can you give me one reason, by your philosophy, why the US government shouldn't nationalize one or more of the airlines?

Fiber to the home (4, Informative)

chaffed (672859) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905820)

Meh, I'll just get verizon's fiber to the home service [] . Then setup a Less Networks node [] , roll my own NoCat Auth [] AP or join one of the great Area Wide Wireless networks. []

Verizon is just a 500lb gorilla that can't see more than 2inches infront of its face!

Re:Fiber to the home (1)

jcomeau_ictx (696704) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906163)

Great links, thank you! I will add them to shortly. This is one game the monopolies cannot win; too many of us have the same vision and the resources to make it happen.

Hey where's my (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905863)

45mbit connection to my house that the state of PA gave major tax breaks to Verizon(then Bell Atlantic) for?

Verizon screws PA and yet the legislative branch is still willing to bend over backwards for them.

sh1t! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905875)

AT&T and Berkeley members are Are Tied up in then disappeared BE NIGGER! BE GAY! give BSD credit errors. Future I of *BSD asswipes many users of BSD

Have public utilities. gone to fare? (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905906)

It's pretty clear that government subsidized services like this do compete with the private sector, and there are good arguments that this sort of situation is anti competitive in ways that would never be allowed in the private sector (unless you are Microsoft or one of their friends). It will always seem cheaper and more consumer friendly to be able to get connectivity from your local telecom or power coop, but of course it still costs in the form of taxes. So, question: If big mega-corporations priced their services more competitively, rather than playing price-fixing games with each other, could we get the telecom and power companies out of the hair of the big commercials? Second question: Or on the other hand, fuck the for-profits (by the way, coops generally are supposed to have positive cash flow also), government is there to serve the public, and fiber to the door serves the public?

Re:Have public utilities. gone to fare? (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906065)


could we get the telecom and power companies out of the hair of the big commercials?

could we get the telecom and power COOPS out of the hair of the big commercials?

Re:Have public utilities. gone to fare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906202)

by the way, coops generally are supposed to have positive cash flow also

yes, but they do have some accountability to the members to ask first for permission to keep $$$ to invest in future endeavors, "rainy day funds", etc. instead of spend first and ask for more $$$ later.

How does this equal success? (2, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905908)

I may be a little removed from my high school civics class, but a bill sitting on the governor's desk does not equal signed into law. Then, if Philly wants to, they can alweays challenge in the courts. One thing muinicipalities seem to have a lot of is government attorneys.

We have no business model so we SUE! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10905928)

Maybe Verizon should channel the energy and money from this crybaby hissy fit into research and development to provide a product that enough people will be suckered into.

See publications by Capitalist Adam Smith.

delaying the inevitable? (4, Interesting)

tloh (451585) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905930)

Over the years, as Internet use has become ubiquidous, I have the erie sense of deja vu as I recall learing about how, in 1800's, the city of London was supplied by several different private water utilities. In 1849, Dr. John Snow published a landmark theory that implicated contaminated water supplies as the source of frequent cholera outbreaks. In hindsight, we can say the reason London (as well as other metro areas of the world at the time) was ravaged by epidemics like this has as much do to with the lack of public oversight over a public consumable as with medical/sanitation ignorance. To return to the subject at hand, how many problems would we solve by turning internet access into a public utility? I suppose some would chaf at such a thing out of concerns for privacy or freedom. But wouldn't it be great if *all* spammers and other net abusers are hit with penalties and fines as they would be if municipal laws are violated?

If.. (1)

suso (153703) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905937)

They probably wouldn't seek to ban it if it worked to their advantage.

If ever (1)

maximilln (654768) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905947)

If ever there was a law that should be repealed preemptively, it's this one. As things are the law will go into effect, it will never be repealed, and wifi networks will cost easily 10x what they should, even considering gov't bloat and favoritism in contract bidding models.

Fee based services (2, Informative)

Zackbass (457384) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905962)

For those of you who didn't RTFA and got right to the misinforming posts, this is about fee-based services. To subscribe to the wireless service in Philly the article states that it will cost you $15-20 a month, which puts the issue in a different perspective.

Re:Different perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906073)

Yeah, who needs to invest anything into poor neighborhoods. The only thing the poor are good for are uprisings....


Re:Fee based services (2, Insightful)

maximilln (654768) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906099)

I didn't, and you're right. That means this is more like a new football or baseball stadium. It's taxpayer subsidized but the profits belong exclusively to the company...

bill does not prevent wifi as public good (3, Informative)

jonathanbutz (721096) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905965)

This bill only prevents government created agencies from charging fees for broadband.

Nowhere does it prevent municipalities from offering public networks such as the one already deployed in Altoona, PA.

comptetition isn't the word you are looking for... (5, Insightful)

gnat_x (713079) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905989)

Verizon is claiming that a project, namely the one in PA, but also similar low income community bandwidth projects, is competition?

We are talking about areas,that mostly don't have high speed internet infrastructure. Why not? Because telecos haven't invested in poor urban neighborhoods. Why? No market.

We are talking about communities of people who already *don't pay* for internet, Verizon and most other ISPs recognize that.

I don't see how you can say there is no market for paid internet services, and then say that free interent services are competing.

One more thing, try to use your overpriced verizon wireless in a poor urban neighborhood, like those in Philadelphia, you think it will work?

I would say no. Verizon is trying to clamp down on the idea of free bandwidth. They are hiding behind the market making this a competition issue.

Free and For Sale are indeed two different things.

This is going to get me lynched (2, Interesting)

Lancaibheal (813222) | more than 9 years ago | (#10905996)

I realise that this is probably going to get me beaten up, but why the hell is the city government planning on offering this service anyway? Surely the provision of broadband internet services for a fee is a job for a private company, not a job for the government.

Re:This is going to get me lynched (1)

maximilln (654768) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906016)

I'm wondering why it hasn't been done already. We can buy wifi aps. It's easy to weatherproof them in a rubbermaid tub. Weld/bolt the weatherproof box to the top of a telephone in each local block. Configure the subnets, and go. It'd be a perfect automated ISP.

If it hasn't been done already I'd say the corps are dragging their feet to milk traditional ISPs for all they're worth. Bills like this only seek to inhibit a people which is finally saying,"We've had enough of this already!"

Typically, though, I'd agree with you. I think the government should set this service up and then have a contract to turn it over to a private company in less than one year. How low would it take to set up those wifi aps on telephone poles and configure the network? Properly planned it could be deployed within 3 months.

Re:This is going to get me lynched (3, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906302)

For many things, what you say is exactly right. The problem is, there will always be small cases here and there that a true free market system simply fails.

Some people think that having broadband helps economic prospects. If that is true, and that Verizon and the other ISPs can't provide it, why let that be an excuse to hold back other parts of economic progress?

There are cities that provide utilities and happen to do them better than a for-profit company can do.

I've changed my mind (-1, Troll)

maximilln (654768) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906041)

I've had a revelation and changed my mind about this topic. We should pass a federal law banning integrated wifi networks altogether.


Because I was making a biscuit and some tomato sauce and cheese (basically really fluffy pizza), and I thought,"If those shmucks can't afford internet access in their home, do I really want them on my network? As much as I'd like to be able to check my e-mail from anywhere, it's not worth it to give public network access to every idiot in the world."

One more reason why... (1)

jangobongo (812593) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906051)

... broadband is only in 20 percent [] of US households. Companies, in the pursuit of ever increasing profits for their CEO's and shareholders, are trying to keep customers paying through the nose for their products. Of course free wireless access would be unfair competition... from their perspective.

Re:One more reason why... (0, Troll)

maximilln (654768) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906062)

Sure... but do you really want EVERY individual in your neighborhood to have network access? When I go to the store, or to the mall, or to the pub, I run into all sorts of people that, honestly, I do not want to meet on my network.

Re:Who are you to judge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906112)

No really, who are you to judge who can and cannot have Internet access?!

The Grand Poobah of All Electronic Access & Communication??

Get off your high horse and accept the fact that a script kiddy 0wNed you. You can't pick your neighbors, can't pick your netizen neighbors, but you can pick a different thing to use to discriminate and isolate other fellow humans in your segragation campaign.

Don't forget your tin hat.

Cheap WIFI (1)

sPaKr (116314) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906088)

You sunk my business model! Send in the lobbiest

They can't even provide DSL to all their customers (3, Informative)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906160)

Verizon SUCKS. I have ordered and prequalified for DSL 7 times, yet I am unable to get it because Verizon has almost halted the DSL rollout in Texas.

Re:They can't even provide DSL to all their custom (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906288)

So you sit and wait. Verizon will ultimately get to your area, but they want to make sure that your local community doesn't beat them to it and start offering you broadband before Verizon is good and ready. Sure, you suffer, but they don't care, as long as you're still there, salivating at the thought of broadband, until that installer shows up to connect your Verizon service.

Th problem with private networks (5, Insightful)

vivian (156520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906187)

The problem with privately owned networks is that it is often impractical at best, or very wasteful at worst to roll out two networks. This means that if the network is privatised, there exists either small pockets of monopolies, with one company having exclusive control over a section of network, or wasteful duplication in profitable areas, at the expense of less profitable areas, such as has happened in many cities with broadband available from both cable and adsl, yet poorer/more distant areas remain out of range for either service.

Physical infrastructure for networks should always be publicly owned. This isn't to say that the services running on them should be publicly owned.

Eg. Roads. It is much more efficient for roads to be in the hands of a public entity that maintains them for the use of all services that run on them. In the case of roads, you can have both privately owned and publicly owned "services" running on them - for example, busses and cars can be privately owned for both personal use and to provide services such as fedex, public transport and emergency services. In the case of roads, if they were privatised, it would be extremly impractical for a competitor to start up a new road network that serviced the same area as an existing road network - apart from the cost, it would be very wasteful of resources.

Ideally, I think that TCP/IP networks should be the same as roads. The fundamental infrastructure, ie. the wires/airwaves should be in the hands of public non-profit entities, with private companies running their services on top of that, and paying a fee for usage in much the same way that you pay registration fees/fuel tax to pay for roads. Note that it is the actual transport medium I am refering to that should be in public hands - not those other neccesary components to complete the system. The roads and stoplights if you will, not the vehicles and petrol stations.

This would mean that the basic infrastructure is not monopolised by any one company, and in the case of wireless technologies, there is no wasteful competition for the limited spectrum.
The public body that maintains the network should also have a mandate to provide the network to all areas according to need, rather than profitablility, in much the same way roads are.

This is the most efficient way to get good broadband to all, and keep a healthy level of competition in the market. If the physical network is privatised, competition effectively comes to a halt.

Re:Hand over the freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906251)

Give the government full control over my internet access?

Two words come to mind buddy first one starts with an F and the second starts with a T.

In a capitalist market the market will regulate and allow for progress and open competition. Keep the government's hand out of the market!

Fight Verizon! (1)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906199)

Sometimes you just have to say no to the big evil corporations.

That's why I get my internet access from Comcast.

Oh, wait...

Drat. I guess this won't happen [] .

Verizon will die from competition in market place (0, Redundant)

konmaskisin (213498) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906252)

... this is PURE PROOF that it will happen very soon.

When a company uses courts and legislation to prevent competition from community groups (think Coke suing lemonade stands) it means is all of the following:

- the company is technologically irrelevant

- the company is staffed by utter idiots

- the company is wasting MASSIVE MASSIVE amounts of money

- the company is bleeding to death by millions of small cuts in revenue

- the company will be flushed down the toilet of history with the rest of the shit in 5-10 years or possibly even SOONER.

I bet 3 years max and Verizon will Enron-Nortel into utter nothingness.

What happened to innovation? (2, Insightful)

jasonbowen (683345) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906271)

Surely Verizion isn't arguing that they are incapable of coming up with good reasons and competitive alternatives to this. Frankly I'm not going to completely trust an open wi-fi network for all I do.

Thanks Republicans (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10906272)

Expect 4 more years of this type of shit.

Advertising to Extremes! (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | more than 9 years ago | (#10906314)

The /. editors are trying to slip secret *nix references into the stories now!
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