Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Is Anti-Municipal Broadband Report Astroturf?

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the something-to-read dept.

Wireless Networking 529

Glenn Fleishman writes "A report issued today by the New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) and The Heartland Institute says that municipalities shouldn't build wireless networks because it's anti-competitive and will waste taxypayer dollars. The report has some interesting points (mostly about building fiber networks), but eWeek (second page) uncovered that NMRC is a subsidiary of Issue Dynamics, which is a lobbying firm that represents most US telcos and cable operators. It's astroturf. The Heartland Institute won't reveal its funders. I wrote a long account trying to track down the connections between the sock puppets involved in publicizing the report."

cancel ×

529 comments

ZOUNDS! MORE FAGGOTRY! FUCK YUO ALL!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11572797)

Gmail out of beta? (offtopic) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573233)

Looks like gmail is now out of beta; or very close to it. I had 6 invites for several months, and yesterday, I finally managed to get rid of 1. So I was rather shocked to see today that one of my gmail accounts now has _50_ invites (the other is stuck at 10 invites). Seems I am not the only one. [webpronews.com]

As for invites. Bah. 50 is going to take 1 metric forever to send all of them out. Nevertheless, if you have been living under a deep, dark rock, and you don't yet, somehow, have a gmail account, leave first name, last name, and email address to send the invite to, and I will send invites to as many people as I can be bothered to.
(Note: first name and last name can be anything. You can change it after you sign up. Secondly, in the past hotmail and yahoo email have placed invites in the spam folder. Check there if your expected invite does not appear.)

Astroturf? (1)

Burb (620144) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572803)

I don't understand the significance of this term. Can someone explain?

Re:Astroturf? (5, Informative)

bwcarty (660606) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572823)

Astroturf is fake grass. In this case, it's a business funded organization that appears to be a grass roots movement.

Re:Astroturf? (1)

Burb (620144) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572837)

Oh thanks. I knew what Astroturf was in a literal sense, but the metaphorical/figure of speech is new to me.

Re:Astroturf? (1)

stinerman (812158) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572909)

"The More You Know*"

Re:Astroturf? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11572826)

Astroturf (-turf) trademark for a durable, grasslike synthetic outdoor carpet used in stadiums, as a floor covering, etc. (C)1995 Zane Publishing, Inc. (C)1994, 1991, 1988 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Re:Astroturf? (1)

perdu (549634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572834)

Fake grass, you can't smoke? Beats me...

Re:Astroturf? (0, Redundant)

Kiryat Malachi (177258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572841)

Astroturf, in the literal meaning, is fake grass.

Astroturfing in the political sense is fake "grassroots" political activity.

Re:Astroturf? (2, Interesting)

OECD (639690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573031)

Astroturfing in the political sense is fake "grassroots"

Which this is not. It's similar--shadowy funding buying a biased report--but it's not pretending to be a grassroots organization.

There ought to be another term for this. "Fakesearch" or somesuch.

Re:Astroturf? (2, Insightful)

Kiryat Malachi (177258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573171)

I was going to point that out in my comment, actually. This isn't astroturfing; astroturfing would be things like orchestrated letter-to-the-editor campaigns where the letters are sent by a small group purporting to represent many people (Parent's Television Council, anyone?), small communities of users swarming generally open polls to bias the results to their viewpoint, etc, etc.

There is a term for this obfuscated funding: it's called "buying your evidence".

Re:Astroturf? (3, Funny)

ifwm (687373) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573255)

"There ought to be another term for this. "Fakesearch" or somesuch"

I believe it's called "Business as Usual"

Re:Astroturf? (1)

baafie (765151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572869)

3. astroturf [urbandictionary.com]


v. The technique of using boiler plate text to advance a political agenda. "Astroturfing" is typically done by sending the same letter to every newspaper one can find. A certain number of newspapers will be duped into thinking that the letter is original and heartfelt when it is neither.

Re:Astroturf? (1)

asjunk (233807) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572876)

Astroturf essentially means "fake grassroots." You create an organization and try to make it look legitimate -- i.e. give it a fancy name and mission statement -- but the reality is that it's a wholly paid for entity designed to do something else. In this case, the "something else" is lobby for the interests of telcos, presumably.

Re:Astroturf? (0, Redundant)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572919)

When ordinary people (not paid lobbyists) begin to come together in support of (or against) a specific issue, the issue is said to have "grass-roots support." Since the support comes from people without a financial stake in the outcome, that support is seen as "untainted" and is more likely to attract the attention and support of other people. Over the years, politicians and corporations have been caught putting out misleading press releases and funding fake "concerned citizens' groups" in an effort to make an issue appear to have grass-roots support where it really doesn't.

Fake grass = Astroturf.

Re:Astroturf? (2, Funny)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572981)

Gaah... I really need to refresh before I post to define things. I'm starting to sound like the guy who calls you up in the middle of the night to tell you he just got the joke you told him over lunch.

H'lo?

Dave! It's Mike!

Mike? Grmf... it's 3am!

"That's not my wife! I ride a unicycle!" WAAAAHAHAHA!

What?!

Best joke ever, buddy!

That was *six days ago*!!

Too funny, man... okay, have a good night!

Re:Astroturf? (1)

RManning (544016) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572996)

I don't understand the significance of this term. Can someone explain?

See The Jargon File's [catb.org] definition [catb.org] :

"The use of paid shills to create the impression of a popular movement, through means like letters to newspapers from soi-disant 'concerned citizens', paid opinion pieces, and the formation of grass-roots lobbying groups that are actually funded by a PR group (AstroTurf is fake grass; hence the term)."

woop (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11572806)

Beat ya all here

Interesting issue tho (1, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572818)

Should private companies have to compete with a body that has limitless funds, manpower and preferential access to sell their product? Discuss :)

Re:Interesting issue tho (4, Interesting)

Gyorg_Lavode (520114) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572846)

Should the money I pay the government be used for something I want, would use, and enjoy?

Re: Interesting issue tho (2, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572889)


> Should the money I pay the government be used for something I want, would use, and enjoy?

Of course not; everyone knows that taxpayer dollars should have gone to corporate coffers instead.

Re: Interesting issue tho (0, Troll)

narsiman (67024) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573113)

I for one hope my tax money be spent to spread democracy.

Re: Interesting issue tho (2, Insightful)

zulux (112259) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573296)

Of course not; everyone knows that taxpayer dollars should have gone to corporate coffers instead.

It's not just that - our government is now in charge of confiscating the efforts of many and using the money to please the powerful.

The social security taxes of the young are used to buy off the votes of the elderly.
The income taxes of us all are used to buy off the votes of the welfare classes.
The teriff we pay on imports is used to buy off the votes of the protected Unions.

It's not just large corporations who gain when government is powerful.

Theft (2, Insightful)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572894)

Should the money I pay the government be used for something I want, would use, and enjoy?


Should the money someone else pays the government under threat of imprisonment be used for something they don't want, won't use, and won't enjoy?


If you want it, you pay for it. Don't force anyone else to pay who doesn't want to. I've got enough bills to pay without funding your addiction to /.

Re:Theft (5, Insightful)

Kefaa (76147) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573052)

"If you want it, you pay for it. Don't force anyone else to pay who doesn't want to. "

Amazing, why does this continue to be a response to anything government funded? Here are services I have never used:
- The fire department
- The police department
- Roads beyond the 1/2 mile to the interstate and around friends and family

Using your logic, we should just charge people who want the service. Need the fire department? Well, they are currently billing at $85/hour/firefighter plus equipment and supplies.

We are a society, if as a society, a city decides it is in their best interest to buy WIFI, and you do not, either: a-vote out the officials or b-move to another city.

Re:Theft (1)

TheDurkinBoy (582242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573161)

"Amazing, why does this continue to be a response to anything government funded?"

What is truly amazing is that you understand so little about free market economics.

We are moving to other cities, but the socialists keep following us.

Re:Theft (1)

Carbonite (183181) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573206)

Wifi access != fire or police services

Re:Theft (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573247)

In a society without big government, the Invisible Hand will place fire stations where they are most needed as the market dictates.

I'll give you an example. That annoying 100 year-old tenement that would ordinarily be swallowed by eminent domain to spur economic development? The residents won't be able to afford a firehouse. The buildings will burn to the ground, without all of that pesky bureaucratic crap like "fair-value compensation" and "orderly evacuation". This will cheaply and efficiently make way for big business. See how simple it would be if we had no government bossing us around?

Just joking, of course.

Re:Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573056)

I don't have any interest, want, or enjoyment in paying for childrens' education.

I think the public school system should be abolished, as should free aids clinics for people such as yourself.

Re:Theft (1)

bluekanoodle (672900) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573077)

Then why am I forced to pay for others health care\coke rehab\inability to raise their own kids\welfare check\name-any-other goverment program ?

Re:Interesting issue tho (1)

Loco3KGT (141999) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572976)

Should the money I pay the government be used for something I want, would use, and enjoy?

Would use? Like you really take your laptop to the park. Given most devices inability to operate in direct sunlight, I'd guess no.

But just in case you REALLY REALLY REALLY need email on your Palm while you're walking your dog at the park, the local township can spend $10,000 to hook up wireless internet.

Re:Interesting issue tho (2, Insightful)

Dana P'Simer (530866) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573032)

No. The scope of government should be limited to protecting us from force or fraud, providing for a common defence, and construction and/or regulation of essential infrastructure ( e.g. roads ).

Now, you might say that government owned and run Wi-Fi networks constitute "essential infrastructure" and since internet access is becomming more and more essential I would not argue against it. That is the reason we might choose to fund this sort of thing thru government not because it is "something I want, would use, and enjoy".

Re:Interesting issue tho (3, Insightful)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573242)

The scope of government should be limited to protecting us from force or fraud, providing for a common defence, and construction and/or regulation of essential infrastructure

What about public parks, public spaces, (even public restrooms) and the like?

They aren't "essential infrastructure" or "common defense" but they are management of a limited resource for the common good-- they provide something that many people "want, use, and enjoy".

Re:Interesting issue tho (1)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573036)

If you feel that it is the job of the government to entertain you, then yes. If you think it is more important for the government to spend money protecting and responsibly serving its citizens, then no.

Re:Interesting issue tho (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573151)

Should the money I pay the government be used for something I want, would use, and enjoy?

Damn! Brilliant idea. Government hookers & beer.

Except from the looks of the gals behind the counter at the DMV, I'm not sure I want a fat, middle-aged cow with an attitude in bed. And I'm sure the lib health lobby, frankenfood freaks, MAD moms and all would make sure my gubmint beer would have less alcohol than a glass of water.

Oh well, thanks for playing.

NO. Everyone should keep their $ in the first plac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573190)

and pay for stuff if they want it and NOT pay it if they don't. Your mistake, and those who modded you insightful, is assuming the government should have your money in the first place. When you see stuff like this, your response should be that it's time for the goverment to give your money back to do with it what you will.

Re:Interesting issue tho (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573222)

The government is already taxing the people money for things others enjoy.

Health Departments give out condoms and birth control for free at the expense of virgin taxpayers who have never enjoyed the pleasures of sex.

Viagra, thanks to the drug companies, is going to be a drug paid for by medicare, for no other purpose than pleasure.

so, yes. looks like taxpayers are footing the bill for your pleasures.

Re:Interesting issue tho (4, Insightful)

arkanes (521690) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572872)

It's interesting you mention this, since cable companies and telcos have long enjoyed exclusivity contracts, state subsidation, tax breaks, and all sorts of other preferential treatment. They're really upset that some people want to direct those advantages to a non-profit public service rather than the magical creation of a profit center for them.

Re:Interesting issue tho (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572877)

Should private companies have to compete with a body that has limitless funds, manpower and preferential access to sell their product?

Should private companies be continuously allowed to hold a monopoly on an entire market and thus be able to charge whatever they see fit and treat customers in a manner that is the most economically feasible?

No. They should not. No one should be able to hold a monopoly on high-speed Internet services in an area (including the local municipality). Everyone should be able to freely compete. Sadly, that's not how it works.

While I love the theory of munipalities offering low-cost Internet service wirelessly I am worried about the implications of the local government then mandating what is and is not appropriate to traverse that transmission medium.

Re:Interesting issue tho (1)

MyIS (834233) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573172)

While I love the theory of munipalities offering low-cost Internet service wirelessly I am worried about the implications of the local government then mandating what is and is not appropriate to traverse that transmission medium.

Trust me, any private provider will put restrictions on the medium as fast, if not faster, if the government tells it to.

The issue is indeed about letting private folks make money where there could be a public service. Well, there's many ways to reach a compromise - say let several companies set up shop and then subsidise customer subscriptions...

Re:Interesting issue tho (2, Insightful)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572914)

Should the governing body of the land be held back from bringing the modern information age to the heartland of america?

I think that's the real issue.

If a private company wants to be competitive in areas that the government is already supplying the service, they will just have to step up the customer service and value added services.

Re:Interesting issue tho (1)

DarkVader (121278) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572983)

Certainly not. They have the freedom to go out of business.

Re:Interesting issue tho (2, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573024)

Should private companies have to compete with a body that has limitless funds, manpower and preferential access to sell their product? Discuss :)

Don't forget:
Has direct lawful (?) ability to have competitors taxed at a different rate than themselves.
Has direct lawful (?) ability to block competitors access to building/construction permits, right of way, etc.
Has direct lawful (?) ability to have taxes levied against competitors added to their own coffers.

Re:Interesting issue tho (4, Insightful)

Tenebrious1 (530949) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573046)

Should private companies have to compete with a body that has limitless funds, manpower and preferential access to sell their product? Discuss :)

Since when does any municipality have limitless funds? Hell every month the school board proposes a new budget that attempts to cut funding to the arts, and claim they're not receiving enough money from the county or state. They're closing fire houses. They're cutting police overtime. Unlimited funds and manpower? Give me a break.

Let the municipality build city wide internet access. Like any other city derived resource, it will be used by the less fortunate and the leeches who don't want to pay for something. The service will be nominally better than having none at all, but for many that's all they need.

Private companies will still compete because businesses still have needs. Individuals who want reliablity and accountability will still have needs that will only be met by a private company.

Re:Interesting issue tho (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573131)

Why would companies want to compete when the Federal Government is building a global wireless network? It seem like it has the potential to eventually be turned on for the public, like GPS was.

Public Announcment (3, Funny)

JamesD_UK (721413) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572821)

Lobbying of governments by commerical organisations not completely transparent! News at eleven!

The Assholes Are In Charge (1)

the0ther (720331) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572832)

Disconcerting, for sure.

Great Idea (3, Insightful)

Jheaden (169061) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572857)

I think municpal run WiFi is a great idea, at least when you can't get a company to do it.

If there are professional companies willing to invest in the infrustructure great, use them. On the other hand when you have a small town in the middle of nowhere, it could be rather difficult to find that company. In that case a network run by the town looks like the best and only option

Besides, occasionally a community run network does do better job than the big guys

the economics are there (0)

avandesande (143899) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572879)

The amount of money that it would save consumers would be incredible... free municiple wireless can be implemented for a tiny fraction of the money that is spent on an individual basis.

this would eventually lead to the death of telcos, so you can imagine the forces that want to stop this.

Re:the economics are there (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573076)

this would eventually lead to the death of telcos, so you can imagine the forces that want to stop this.

Please explain how this would lead to the death of telcos. I know of no one that offers phone service to anyone without going through a telco network. That provides the same quality of service. That provides T1,T3, OCX lines and many other business level connections. That, well, you get the idea.

The telcos aren't going anywhere. They'll just evolve like they have been doing. As for wireless? Give me wires. I neither trust the security on wireless yet nor is it as fast and reliable as wired over the distances we are talking.

Government ..low cost....?????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573109)

Excuse me, you used government and low cost in the same sentence.......

Re:the economics are there (1)

TheDurkinBoy (582242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573194)

Wrong. You don't save money by having government provide a service. Where are Hayek and Friedman when you need them?

Government for the people, *by* the people, right? (5, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572882)

A town in essence is a group of people who have gotten together because it's in their best interests to consolidate their efforts to make the best use of resources (ie roads, schools). If this group of people begins to see the benefits of locally-provided high speed access (albeit wireless) and votes on it, why shouldn't they be free to exercise their will and implement such a plan, assuming it will be affordable?

If companies are allowed to make money, then my townsfolk should be allowed to work together to *save* money. What next, bulldozing the library because Barnes & Noble wants to open up a store?

Re:Government for the people, *by* the people, rig (2, Funny)

SteveAstro (209000) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572932)

What next, bulldozing the library because Barnes & Noble wants to open up a store? ...and then suing people who lend books to other people....

Hmm.

Steve

Re:Government for the people, *by* the people, rig (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573078)

Your argument appears to assume that everyone in the town would want to use the service and so should be forced to pay for it with their tax dollars.

Remember, the only thing that makes Government different from other organizations is that Governments are legally empowered to enforce their will with the use of physical force (i.e., at gunpoint).

Is it morally acceptable for a group of people to require their fellow citizens for fork over tax dollars at the point of a gun to pay for a service they don't all want to use?

This is why Government has traditionaly restricted itself to providing services that are very diffacult to privatize (i.e., roads)

Re:Government for the people, *by* the people, rig (1)

gracenix (803510) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573170)

Your argument appears to assume that everyone in the town would want to use the service and so should be forced to pay for it with their tax dollars.
Many communities also build bike paths. It is likely most people will never use them
Many communities fund local parks. Many people do not go to them.

Re:Government for the people, *by* the people, rig (2, Insightful)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573288)

Let's add to the list...libraries, schools, some streets that perhaps you'll never drive down. Towns try to do things that are for the benefit of society in general. And you're *not* forced to pay taxes...if you don't want to participate in something bigger than your personal needs and interests, you can move. There are vast, unsettled parts of the country still.

Personally, I would like to see what happens if a group of people start an experimental town centered around their own self interests vs the town as a whole...sort of like a reverse hippie commune.

Re:Government for the people, *by* the people, rig (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573223)

Is it morally acceptable for a group of people to require their fellow citizens for fork over tax dollars at the point of a gun to pay for a service they don't all want to use?

Um... yeah, sometimes. Public parks, for example, I could say, "I don't want public parks! I HAVE a backyard!" What about public transportation? Public museums? Those aren't hard to privatize. We do have private land and and private transportation and private art collections, but the public stuff does serve a purpose, and most of us are willing to put in a few extra dollars to pay for it (even if we don't use them often).

Yes, there are some who'd rather not pay. That doesn't, by itself, indicate anything. Pick any single thing that the government does, and I can find someone who doesn't want to pay for it.

Re:Government for the people, *by* the people, rig (1)

cev (572524) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573231)

Is it morally acceptable for a group of people to require their fellow citizens for fork over tax dollars at the point of a gun to pay for a service they don't all want to use?

Yes. The intangible benefits of the program to the population as a whole are also relevant. A municipality can consider the economic benefit of having a free wireless network for all. For example, the network could bring in new businesses. Even if Joe doesn't use the internet, he might get a job with one of those companies.

Think of public transportation and municipal airports. If I don't ride or fly, I still think they are useful because they are good for the economy. A bigger strecth is education. Even if I don't have kids, a good school system is advantageous to me (property values, business location), so I am willing to pay for it.

CV

Re:Government for the people, *by* the people, rig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573254)

Is it morally acceptable for a group of people to require their fellow citizens for fork over tax dollars at the point of a gun to pay for a service they don't all want to use?

Acceptable or not, it happens all the time. I do not own a car or have children; should my tax dollars go to fund roads and schools I do not use? If you say I benefit indirctly from those things, who is to say that people who do not use the municiple Internet would not indirectly benefit as well?

For a more controversial issue, I did not want our military to invade Iraq. Yet I am paying for that as well.

Re:Government for the people, *by* the people, rig (1)

Platinum Dragon (34829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573293)

A town in essence is a group of people who have gotten together because it's in their best interests to consolidate their efforts to make the best use of resources (ie roads, schools). If this group of people begins to see the benefits of locally-provided high speed access (albeit wireless) and votes on it, why shouldn't they be free to exercise their will and implement such a plan

If your hypothetical town were organized along decentralized, anarchist lines, as your description seems to imply, you would be absolutely correct. Hell, I would love to see this happen. I think the residents of that town/city would develop a stronger sense of involvement and connection to the place they live and they people they live with, even stronger than the proverbial small rural town.

However, in this case you're dealing with a community run by a few individuals with authority to extort funding from the population in the form of taxes*. Elected or not, the town as a whole isn't making these decisions. The centralized power structure is making them. Under the prevailing attitude toward politics and economics that exists in the US, these centralized authorities are considered to be inefficient allocators of resources, entities that should be limited to providing physical security and defence of control over property. To counteract this attitude, which is somewhat based on false assumptions and selective reality, you would have to successfully argue that the town government can provide the service better than a private entity without making use of its power to extort funding from individuals who do not wish to make use of the system, while playing within its own rules, with no bias in regulation or enforcement of laws. Even then, there are people--some of them influential--who oppose any activity by a government that might present an opportunity for private profit.

* Of course, recall that the colonists back in the late 1700s weren't entirely opposed to taxes, only being taxed without complementary agency. Extreme capitalists and tax protesters may want to remember this; if you don't think you're being represented properly, there are avenues of redress in the system you claim to uphold.

It's just another service (4, Insightful)

Walkiry (698192) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572899)

> municipalities shouldn't build wireless networks because it's anti-competitive

Couldn't we say the same about street illumination, waste disposal or sewer networks? It's another service, and if the municipality thinks that it would benefit the whole community to put a wireless network in place, why shouldn't they get that service with the residents' tax dollars/euros/cookies?

Re:It's just another service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573057)

Pure lunacy. Exactly how is wifi in the park (a good name for a band) an essential public service?

Street lights - public safety. Waste disposal and sweage - public health

And if you think your CURRENT taxes will cover not only the services they must provide, but also these new services, you are stupid as well as silly.

No, its a luxury. (5, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573079)

The difference is that your examples are basic requirements to have a good clean infrastructure. Wireless Internet is a luxury and not employed by many.

If the government provides this service how long before they will have to subsidize the equipment to those who cannot afford it? Pretty soon you end up with little groups of people who get the equipment and service for free because they are classified as one type of minority or another. This is what happens to government programs that are not required to sustain life. They become vote buying schemes.

While I love the idea of cheap wireless I do not want the government controlling it. Unlike private corporations governments have incredible methods of ignoring laws and worse writing new ones that control access and content. They also are very good at pushing an agenda with such services.

So while the article may be FUD this is one area that local governments do not need to stepping into. There is no clear need to provide this service as there is no majority that needs it or has the equipment to use it.

Do not allow the government to expand simply because it convienences you. The more it convienences your the more control it will eventually exert over you. Pretty soon you will find you will only have to access to what they want you to and when they want you to.

No, I do not need tinfoil hat. I just believe in small and non-intrusive government. I also believe that they should only provide the services that are required. They are not here to provide luxuries.

Highway Helpers in Minneapolis -- previous example (4, Interesting)

ianscot (591483) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573153)

One of our MN state legislators raised these basic objections about the yellow "highway helper" trucks that help people who get a flat or run out of gas during rush hour. (This was a Republican, so he phrased it all in terms of how the little trucks were a sort of socialism.)

Turned out the guy had a large financial interest in a towing company. Seriously.

Re:It's just another service (2, Insightful)

protolith (619345) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573246)

Exactly, There is no reason that broadband/wifi couldn't be made available by a public utility. The question is which is better, public or private. The answer is that it depends. In a large market with the prospect of solid competition two or three private ventures competing for your business will tend to be better for the user. In small markets where competition is not going to be a factor, public utilities are better for the user because the issue of meeting a profit margin is eliminated. Public utilities may tend to be more bureaucratic and therefore less efficient in operation, but they are essentially providing a product at their cost of operation. In the area of other service utilities, there have been cases of private ventures being far better than the bloated dinosaur public utility, there are also issues of private corporations screwing their customers because there is no alternative for them (all in the name of turning a profit).

Think-tank (2, Insightful)

Corellon Larethian (833606) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572921)

New Millennium Research Council (NMRC) sounds like a "Think-tank". In this day and age, it's not a question of conflicted interest and "bias". It's only a question of figuring out who funded it. Same as any "university study".

Most of the time I look for keywords. In this case, "anti-competitive" and "waste taxpayer dollars" points me toward the people who stand to lose the most from government-sponsored wireless. Which would be telephone companies and cable companies. I would also expect energy/electricity companies, and several communication satellite companies.

I think a little competition would good for 'em.

Builds character.

Typical (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572945)

Anticompetitive for you

Good for me

Re:Typical (1)

TheDurkinBoy (582242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573237)

It will be good for you...for a short time.

The public good... (2, Insightful)

William_Lee (834197) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572950)

I am generally all for competition, and government staying out of the way of private businesses.

That said, IMO blanketing a municipal area with publicly available hotspots seems like a legitimate use of public dollars if costs can be contained, and if implementation can be managed effectively (I know, I know, big ifs).

It may be cliched, but the internet has become a truly useful tool that can enrich the lives of those with access to it.

I think making this bandwidth available as a public service is in the taxpayer's best interest if it can be done with undue financial burden.

It would definitely help to decrease the digital divide. It doesn't take much hardware to surf the net. I could see the evolution of a sub $500 notebook market that evolved along side the widespread deployment of these municipal wifi networks.

Re:The public good... (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573082)

The problem is that i would be able to dump my telephone and cable carriers, as voiceip and internet video broadcast becomes viable.

Re:The public good... (1)

TheDurkinBoy (582242) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573270)

Make no mistake, if you are for competition and keeping government out of competition with private industry, you are not for this proposal. Please consider that you might be more in favor of socialism rather than free markets and capitalism.

If conservatives had their way... (0, Flamebait)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572956)

We would have no roads, because if they market requird roads, it would build roads.

Re:If conservatives had their way... (2, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573162)

We would have no roads, because if they market requird roads, it would build roads.

Actually, the market DOES build roads. They are Toll roads and Turn pikes. and are built using private funding only.
https://smart-tag.com/dulles_toll_road.htm [smart-tag.com]
http://www.c-b.com/information%20center/transporta tion/ic.asp?tID=23&pID=85&issue=5&p=3&s=True&sT=Co mplex%20Financial%20Creatures [c-b.com]

They have been around for a long time. Next argument please.

Re:If conservatives had their way... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573259)

Let's see, I'd guess that toll roads make up about .0000001% of all roads. We have NONE in my state. I've only used one in my entire life. And I've been up and down the entire east cost, up and down the west cost, and nearly everywhere in between.

So exactly what is your point?

Re:If conservatives had their way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573173)

We would have no roads, because if they market requird roads, it would build roads.

No, if the conservatives had their way all roads would be toll roads.

We wouldn't have roads (or at most just a few beyond a couple of miles) if Libertarians had their way because there would be no way to deal with jerks charging exorbitant prices for their land and thus blocking construction.

MOD This up! (1)

cnelzie (451984) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573210)

This is extremely true!

Just look at what corporations do, Enron purposefully and very maliciously worked out deals where power plants would 'find reasons' to shut down, in order to drastically inflate the cost of energy. They played a short taped conversation proving this on NPR this morning.

I am not saying that all corporations are bad, it's just that when you mix utilities with greed, it is extremely easy for people of low moral fiber to put in place schemes like Enron executives did.

There are certain things that the government should own the rights to and then they should lease those rights out to corporations. That might not work perfectly either, but it might be a better middle ground then full government control or full corporate control.

Right, But For Wrong Reasons? (1)

White Roses (211207) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572972)

Maybe they're right. Maybe a network infrastructure shouldn't be done via wireless, which still has some major security issues to resolve before. Maybe a network infrastructure is completely useless for a muni to build. But the reasons they state are all wrong. Municipalities should spend tax dollars to provide basic services to the citizens of the municipalities. Providing fire department and police services is an example. Educational services at a job-training level. It's a service. And, just like other services provided by a muni, taxpayers can pay to get better service (private alarm and fire suppression systems, security guards for gated communities, DeVry training, a college education). So, is it a service that *should* be provided to everyone with the possibility of better service from the private sector? Maybe. But claiming it will have unforseen cost-overruns (what police department or fire department isn't if there is a major riot, or forest fire), or quash competiton (security firms seem to do well enough), or not spur business (that's not the primary purpose of a muni anyway), is really just setting up straw men to knock down. And since it's a telco front that's setting them up, I trust it's conclusions as much as a 3 dollar bill with Clinton on the front.

What makes WiFi special? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11572977)

The govenrment doesn't supply my telephone, electricity, cable tv, cell phone, or natural gas services. Why should they be in the business of supplying wireless Internet access?

Re:What makes WiFi special? (1)

MaceyHW (832021) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573051)

In most of the examples you listed the government does (or did until recently) get to decide who could provide those services and how much they could charge, so it's not a big jump....

Re:What makes WiFi special? (1)

DarkVader (121278) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573080)

Well, the government does supply my electricity, water, and natural gas.

It's a pretty efficient operation, and I pay less than most people who don't have it supplied by the government.

I rather like it.

Re:What makes WiFi special? (1)

acoustix (123925) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573265)

" Well, the government does supply my electricity, water, and natural gas.

There's a difference between essential services like water and frills like internet access. What's next? Gas stations? Supermarkets? -Nick

Could we expect FCC regulation? (1)

didjit (34494) | more than 9 years ago | (#11572979)

If cities, states, or the federal government start rolling out wireless networks, will we also consider this the "public airwaves" since its publicly funded and using a piece of the regulated spectrum? If so, would we start to see the FCC or some other government body start enforcing "decency" standards on what is being broadcast in this spectrum? Would the government start trying to regulate what you're allowed to browse if its over a public wireless connection?

Taxi payers? (1)

NicolaiBSD (460297) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573009)

As a regular customer to different taxi services I fail to see why municipal wireless broadband wastes my dollars, and I wish to take this opportunity to state I strongly object to these allegations.

Telcos need to put up or shut up. (2, Insightful)

darquewing (842505) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573016)

If the telcos or ISP's are not going to get in on the action, then why are they complaining?

I believe the idea of a wireless public network is great and hope it spreads to more areas soon.

Why would you want this? (1)

yorkpaddy (830859) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573018)

When have you ever enjoyed the qaulity of government service? Name a government program which has been run efficiently. And, what about censorship? Now if an isp censors their users, those users can go to another isp if they care enough. If the government provides zero additional cost ISP service, not as many people would be motivated to go to another ISP to get away from censorship. The other ISPs would have a smaller possible market, and thus have to charge more. The whole idea stinks.

Title? (2, Funny)

prozac79 (651102) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573020)

Anti-Municipal Broadband Report Astroturf?

Hey, I can string together a bunch of random words to:
"hyper-fluctuating communications coffee mug".
"Rainy IP Microsoft helmet".
"MP3 plastic raisen sports dome?"

I guess a confusing title is the first step to getting your submissions through.

Re:Title? (1)

Fr05t (69968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573142)

If you don't understand the wording of the subject you could have asked. Or better yet - actually read the comments [slashdot.org]

Question (1)

TequilaJunction (713856) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573030)

Not that I agree or disagree with the idea of municipal broadband, but would municipalities ever consider providing free telephone service or electricity? If not, then why is wireless access different?

Re:Question (1)

hatton64 (765014) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573124)

Where I am there is a section of that is on Village Power, the village set up a contract with the power company many years ago to provide power at a set price, they are still under that pricing and are paying significantly less for power. so to answer your question I have not heard of a municipality providing free electricity, but they sure do make it cheeper.

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573184)

Wireless access = internet

Internet = information

Information ~ Library

Therefore, the purchase of wireless would be like buying a building for municipal libraries.

Also, think about the infrastructure being used *by* the council. Rather than paying TelCo

I agree....sort of. (5, Interesting)

acoustix (123925) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573043)

I think that municipalities should not offer free access. If they want to offer a pay service, that's fine. If the do offer a pay service then it needs to be operated only by the funds it takes in. Otherwise it would unfair competition with private companies.

Also, as much of a geek as I am I have to say that I don't want my government spending more money on a non-essential service. Internet access is not a right, it's a priviledge. I would rather have more policeman, fireman, teachers, road repairs, water repairs, sewer repairs, etc than wireless internet access that is controlled by the government. Plus there will be more fighing over what should be filtered on a government-controlled network. I just don't think it's worth the $$$ or headaches.

-Nick

I'm not sure why this is suprising... (3, Interesting)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573072)

The political groups (Democrats and Republicans) have been doing this for years. Setup a "think tank" with an innocuous sounding name ("People for the American Way" (an anti-Religion group), "The Heritage Foundation" (a Conservative/Republican group) ) and then start spewing "research" and press releases.

Microsoft does this itself. (Running a campaign of sending out letters to newspapers across the US as a "grassroots" effort)

Wal-Mart is running a "counter-campaign" to try to save it's image.

Is it wrong? It's under the table to be sure. if it's not putting out lies or misrepresenting it's information I don't think so. Maybe their view is right and the only way they'll get their message heard is if they use a messenger that doesn't automatically generate a prejudiced response.
I mean, how many people would read the article: "Phone Company research shows that Municipal Wireless is a bad idea" without thinking "Ah, the phone company's just pissed that they're not getting money.
(and no, I don't think the phone company's right here...I'm just sayin')

Carefully weigh the benefits with the risk (3, Insightful)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573087)

I know this community, and I know that we all like the idea of ubiquitous internet access. I have a computer in my car and I'm a cheap bastard, so I would stand to directly benefit from a plan that would get me legit free internet access.

But I have a concern... Without setting off the 'crazy anarchist' alarm, I think that the scope of the government should be limited at this point, not increased. The original purpose of our government was to provide a loose framework that would facilitate order and protect our borders from foreign invasion. Over the past 250 years, something changed, and many now look to government to fulfill a parental role as well. We expect the government to make sure we all share, take care of things we as children couldn't fathom (analogous to parents paying the utlity bill. If you're a 5 year old, you just see 'we have electricity', not 'we just paid for a service'). It has expanded time and time again, and each time we transfer something from private enterprise to the government, we lose a little power and flexibility.

A free market economy isn't perfect, but it has undeniably been the greatest boom to human rights since the invention of the cave. Every time a company has to compete, you get innovation. Every time you get innovation, you get lowered costs and better products.

If governments (city, federal, state, it doesn't matter which) then the competition aspect disapears. Maybe the service at the time of creation is perfect (Wow, 2 megabit, 5ms ping time, right on!) but after 5 years, it would probably start to feel a bit tight. After ten years, it would be hopelessly out of date. Remember the modem you used ten years ago? How satisfied would you be with it today?

Finally, business is the lubrication that prevents the gears of democracy from locking up. Money is power, and the flow of money back and forth keeps things fluid. If you destroy a company, that cash flow begins to stagnate, and stagnation is what hurts the economy. In the end, the government grows, money slows down, and everyone is hurt a little bit.

Is it a worthy tradeoff for bandwidth? I'm sure there are plenty of people who say 'yeah' because instead of death, they just see the tradeoffs as 'a little pain', something that they won't notice. The problem is, that as citizens, we're making compromises for the little pain every day, and pretty soon it starts to add up.

This isn't a rant against government, it's a rant against stagnation and overcentralization.

Re:Carefully weigh the benefits with the risk (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573268)

I think that the scope of the government should be limited at this point, not increased.

True enough, but utilities such as power and water (and now, network) benefit from government regulation. It's the sort of thing where it isn't really feasible to have more than one organization running the physical infrastructure. When that happens, it may as well be government-run, since there's some oversight involved.

If governments (city, federal, state, it doesn't matter which) then the competition aspect disapears.

You appear to have forgotten what the baby bells did to prevent high speed internet (threat to revenue) 10 years ago. While they were fighting tooth and nail, Japan and Korea deployed fiber. They now have about 12Mb/s for $20/month. Telcos aren't competitive.

Finally, business is the lubrication that prevents the gears of democracy from locking up.

Quite the opposite. Big business, especially telcos tends to aggregate money and power, bending laws to their will and impeding democracy.

Re:Carefully weigh the benefits with the risk (2, Insightful)

eggboard (315140) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573272)

Your points are completely worth thinking about, but the issue here is that a group that is pretending to be independent is funded by telecom and incumbent interests to keep municipalities from even trying to build their own networks. This report will be waved in the face of every city and town and county council before they can fairly evaluate whether municipal broadband would work.

From The Position - cities are useless (0)

Kefaa (76147) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573193)

taxpayers should not be forced to finance risky projects that benefit only a fraction of the
population

I am currently paying for roads I don't use, fire equipment I never call, and the police who merely stop me from speeding. Every day we are forced to pay for services that do not benefit us directly, but as a society we value. Opponents have two options - 1. Convince their government this is a bad course of action or 2 - move.

municipalities enjoy unfair competitive advantages resulting from their ability to raise lowinterest, tax-free and government-backed capital; from their exemption from income taxes;
from their control over rights-of-way; and from the fact they charge franchise fees to
incumbent providers;

Where is the capitalistic spirit we always have waved in our faces, when we say we don't want Walmart or Starbucks? If corporations with billions cannot compete against a local city, it is not unfair advantage. It is the company wants to provide substandard service and this will prevent them.

municipalities have a conflict of interest as they become both competitor and regulator;

With few exceptions, this is federally regulated, so this is just applying the minority to the entire and claiming it as fact.

public provision is not economically efficient, and distorts the market and competition;

See my point about competition above.

telecommunications is an industry rife with technical change and competition, posing risks
that municipalities are not equipped to withstand. The unexpected need for upgrades,
market penetration and price competition from private providers and the threat of new
technologies puts the taxpayer or municipal ratepayer at risk.

Risk is in every bridge, building and roadway allowed in the city. Public parks put the city at liability risk. As for the need to upgrade, this can actually occur on citizen demand, as opposed to the two years we waited for Comcast broadband to make it to the state capital. It also has the advantage of negating the cost of the last mile.

Sorry but this is a puff piece made to sound like research.

Would you want municipal car dealers? (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573213)

It's another example of using tax dollars for something outside of the scope of government. Just because someone is a slashdot reader who feels they _need_ internet access and don't feel like paying, that does not mean it is a role of the government. Other people don't want to pay for internet access, and shouldn't have to. I want a car, and I want it cheap. Should the government be in that business too?

Municipal run = municipal controlled (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11573252)

Do we really want this? Somewhere, sometime before long, some small local group will take the city supplied internet connections to court, with the rallying cry of "Your tax dollars are providing pornography!"
And the city will probably bend over. I can't see a local jurisdiction not putting a filter on the content they deliver, if only to provide the appearance of trying to avoid a lawsuit.

Mar3 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11573256)

you have a play BSD's acclaimed aas of them all, I thought it was my
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...