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Municipal Wi-Fi Battle Moves to Texas

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the because-texans-don't-need-wireless-networking- dept.

Wireless Networking 305

Cryofan writes "The fight in Texas is heating up over municipal wireless. Texas House Bill 789, under consideration in Texas, would impose one of the most extreme bans on municipal involvement in any form of communications--free or otherwise (the bill could ban free library access)."

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305 comments

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The obvious running joke... (0, Flamebait)

ftgow (791708) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721223)

People, reading in Texas? Call ripleys!

Re:The obvious running joke... (0, Redundant)

lord_rob the only on (859100) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721542)

Sure people can read in Texas, don't imagine living in Texas is the same as being George W. Bush :)

WAKE THE FUCK UP PEOPLE!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721580)

When the fuck exactly are you people going to acknowledge Kirk Cameron [eonline.com] as the genius he is?

Run, don't walk, and see The Growing Pains Movie [imdb.com] , today!

If you have mod points and would like to support Kirk Cameron, please moderate this post up.

Right. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721235)

Cuz, you know, if people could get wireless access when they wanted it, as opposed to whenever Southwestern Bell decides they are good and ready to descend to our level and offer us the service, then the great god The Invisible Hand of the Market will surely be displeased and punish us with His wrath.

Right?

Wrong. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721316)

It would just make baby Jesus cry, because he hates goverment providing useful services to the people. It's just straight up jealousy. Back in his day, the government just took your money so some asshole elsewhere could be rich. If they ever gave you anything it was a cross to bear and you still had to deploy and install it yourself. If he had to walk to carpentry school 20 miles up hill, both ways, through 20 foot snowdrifts in the middle of the swealtering summer, he doesn't want anyone to have it any easier.

PDF of the Bill (4, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721236)

Before you jump to conclusions why not try reading [state.tx.us] it first?

Re:PDF of the Bill (1)

blackomegax (807080) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721244)

Because who in their RIGHT MIND will rtfa before making a stupid post about how stupid the bill is... it boggles ze mind!

i know i sure havnt! ;)

Because it is three hundred and thirty-two pages. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721248)

It is very common for people to read abbreviated versions of long works before, or sometimes even in place of, the works themselves. Rather than "jumping to conclusions", though this may be an accurate way of putting things, this usually referred to as a "summary".

Re:PDF of the Bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721255)

Three hundred and thirty two pages???

Re:PDF of the Bill (3, Interesting)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721257)

I hate to reply to my self but in that entire 332 page PDF the word "wireless" is mentioned exactly . . . 4 times . . yes a Whopping Four Times!

Re:PDF of the Bill (1)

mhayenga (684912) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721267)

And 3 of those 4 have been edited/crosssed out...

w00t!

Re:PDF of the Bill (5, Funny)

Nebu (566313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721276)

If I didn't read TFA, what makes you think I'm gonna read some governmental bill?

relevant section: 54.202 (4, Informative)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721291)

The relevant section is 54.202, on page 87 of the pdf:
A municipality or munincipally owned utility may not, directly or indirectly, on its own or with another entity, offer to the public:
  1. A service for which a certificate is required;
  2. A service as a network provider; or
  3. Any telecomunications or network service, without regard to the technology platform used to provide the service.

Re:relevant section: 54.202 (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721369)

Hmm, guess that means you won't be able to do license renewals online, and use https ... *shrug*

Re:PDF of the Bill (1)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721340)

Before you jump to conclusions why not try reading it first?

Because that isn't as fun.


-Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]

Re:PDF of the Bill (5, Insightful)

judonym (527809) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721407)

It does seem to ban municipalities from offering any kind of telecommunication or network services.

Another section that caught my attention was the description of "Political Subdivisions" to include any community with over 275 access lines. People often speak about government as if it's some detached body that's unnecessary and useless, but maybe it's good to remember that government at its best is really just a bunch of neighbours working together to achieve some goal.

This bill is government at it's worst, creating unnecessary limits to protect the interests of corporations. I know Texas is pretty far gone, but this can't possibly pass with those sections can it? Is there any real benefit to taking those options away from communities?

Re:PDF of the Bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721448)

What moron modded this rant as "Informative"? They should be shot.

Its called an "executive summary", you idiot. Think before posting next time. Or better yet, smash your computer with a big hammer then use the hammer on yourself.

Re:PDF of the Bill (1)

eric76 (679787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721640)

I suspect you didn't read it first.

If you had, someone else would have beaten you to the first post.

this is barely news... (1)

ketamine-bp (586203) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721242)

government and corporation going together, surprise, surprise.

Re:this is barely news... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721278)

If find it amusing that in a country that preaches freedom, it only applies to personal freedoms. You could set up your own network, but if you do something for a bunch of other people and deprive companies of income - boom - no freedom whatsoever...

I suppose the theory is that competition dies if it's competing against a free solution, and to keep companies happy, people need to pay for stuff. Ah well...

Incidentally, is there anything in the US stopping a bunch of people forming an ad hoc company to give things like WiFi service for free?

Re:this is barely news... (3, Insightful)

morbiuswilters (604447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721598)

I know of no law preventing someone from giving away what is theirs. The point of this bill is to prevent municipalities from taxing citizens to pay for a service most people will never use. The service isn't "free", it is forced on all of the citizens who have to pay for it. In addition, no private company can compete with a solution that is funded with stolen money and then graciously provided as "free" by the politicians. This bill is depriving no one of personal freedom, but is trying to do precisely the opposite and protect the personal freedom of citizens to choose how to spend their own money.

Seriously, if Wi-fi is important enough to enough people then it will get built. I would love to see wi-fi access in my community, but I don't want to have it paid for by a bunch of extra taxes--in response to another poster: how exactly is robbing others in your community to pay for your addiction to good wifi (hey, I'm addicted too) being "neighborly"? Do you people consider the thousands in these communites who don't even own a computer and who will derive absolutely no benefit from this government-mandated service? No one is going to turn down an opportunity for profits and if the telco won't build it, then maybe some enterprising individual will. Perhaps it will take the form of a co-operative where participants provide access by connecting a public AP to their broadband in exchange for access to the network. That's fine, so long as it isn't being treated as another "government" benefit.

This is from the crowd that (rightfully, IMHO) won't trust the FBI/CIA/NSA to read their e-mail but expects the government to provide magically free wireless that comes with no strings attached? One more thing that you seem to miss is that with higher-speed wireless with much wider range on the horizon, a wifi network with hundreds of nodes might be a million dollar waste in 3 years time. Corporations tend to be more careful with money that is their own than governments do with their budgets and maybe the telcos see no point in investing billions across the nation in networks that are being made obsolete as we speak.

Insane. (2, Funny)

alexwcovington (855979) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721246)

Just plain insane. Completely banning municipalities from communications? What about police CBs? What about 911 dispatch? And for what purpose? To keep towns from competing with for-profit Wi-Fi? Bogus.

Re:Insane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721301)

With the way government spending/waste works; I bet much of that would work better & cheaper if outsourced to private companies.

Re:Insane. (1)

cmarkn (31706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721357)

If you had read the relevant section of the actual bill, you would see that it prohibits municipalities from offering service to the public. Police and 911 services are not telecom services that are offered to the public.

Re:Insane. (1)

bman08 (239376) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721477)

911 sure as shit IS a telecom service offered to the public.

Re:Insane. (4, Informative)

cmarkn (31706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721533)

No, it is not. Fire, ambulance and police are services similar to 911, but none of them is a telecommunications service. Since you clearly haven't looked at the bill, here's the relevant part:

Sec. 51.002. DEFINITIONS.
(2) "Basic local telecommunications service" means:
(A) residential and business local exchange telephone service, including primary directory listings;

(B) tone dialing service;
(C) access to operator services;
(D) access to directory assistance services;
(E) access to 911 service provided by a local authority or dual party relay service;

(F) the ability to report service problems seven days a week;
(G) lifeline and tel-assistance services; and
(H) any other service the commission determines after a hearing is a basic local telecommunications service.


Notice item (E) in the list. A telecom provider provides access to 911 service, among several other things. Notice the word "and" before item (H). It is important. A telecom provider connects you to 911, but 911 is not a telecom provider any more than a firetruck is.

Well the climate is pro monopoly anyway, (1)

luvirini (753157) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721252)

With the current business climate being mostly in favor or monopolies and such, moves like this are hardly surprising.

State-run telco services have failed everywhere (5, Insightful)

no parity (448151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721254)

Throughout Europe, telephone service used to be state-run. All of them have noticed how bad this system was and some are still in the progress of moving away from it.

This should be kept in mind when cheering for municipal wi-fi access.

Well then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721260)

The commercial services should not have any problem whatsoever defeating them in the marketplace then. Problem solved, and this bill is not needed.

Re:Well then. (1)

ketamine-bp (586203) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721266)

well i think you should note that these service cost the taxpayers to setup. defeated government service = taxmoney wasted, period.

Does baby want a cookie? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721270)

Waaaah, I have to pay taxes. Oh, the horrible humanity. When will I have relief from this oppression.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (2, Insightful)

pijokela (462279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721320)

Well, at least around here the telcos didn't fail. The governament just transformed them in to companies and sold the stock to private investers.

So now, instead of the governament monopoly, we have a private monopoly. Hooray!

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (1)

nr (27070) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721582)

*lol* Reminds me of Sweden where we have this big ugly frankenstein "Telia". It initialy was the goverment run monopoly telecommunication company "Televerket" that was later in the 90's privatized, put on the stockmarket and sold out to investors.

The problem is that it is still a private monopoly and the goverment still has majority controll (owns 51% of it I think) so they in their good memory let it f*ck around with customers and other private run shops with it's good memory. Especially in the xDSL internet access market things are ugly here in Sweden there they are bullying around with the other xDSL ISP's (they own the last-mile copper access network).

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (3, Insightful)

tetromino (807969) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721339)

Throughout Europe, telephone service used to be state-run. All of them have noticed how bad this system was and some are still in the progress of moving away from it.

Very true. That is why, IMHO, municipal-run broadband and wifi should be
1) used only as a means of last resort (i.e. when the local telcos and cable companies refuse to provide a certain service in a certain area -- which is true for many rural parts of the United States); and
2) the municipal ISP must be self-funding and independently managed, much like the US Post Office or the BBC; and
3) it should not be a monopoly (i.e. the municipality may not prevent companies from competing with the municipal ISP -- provided that the companies are actually willing to offer competing services).

Europe's experience shows that unless it's implemented very carefully, a government telecom might fuck up royally.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721350)

2) the municipal ISP must be self-funding and independently managed, much like the US Post Office or the BBC;

I don't really agree with this part. If the resource is built with public money, it should have responsibilities to the public.

Few things are more obnoxious than a privatized-management public-resource utility like the BBC that, like a business, isn't answerable to anyone, yet has pseudogovernmental powers.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (1)

KontinMonet (737319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721591)

...isn't answerable to anyone...
Presumably, Ofcom, the board of governors, the House of Commons public media committee, individual MPs, self-appointed media watch organizations, etc.etc.etc. are doing nothing?

...yet has pseudogovernmental powers....
And what would those be?

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721571)

You are dumb. Paying $50 a month to the cable company to get basic "broadband" internet service is outrageous. Your support of this system doubly so.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721577)

Fuck up royally? That's funny, our commercialised monopolist in the Netherlands is called KPN [kpn.com] , which stands/stood for Koninklijke PTT Nederland. Translation: ROYAL PTT Netherlands. They still control the telephone (landline) infrastructure for which you will have to pay 10 euro's a month regardless of your ISP or telephone provider.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (5, Informative)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721401)

In Hull, England, the telephone service was run by the local Authority. They had free local calls since 1904, broadband ADSL before anyone else had heard of it, and they've had ADSL based TV for several years now.

States are large and tend to get overly beurocratic, but smaller governmental organisations often run things rather well.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (0, Offtopic)

mikeb39 (670045) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721594)

In Hull, Quebec, the drinking age is 18 instead of 19 like it is in most places in Canada, and I went to a strip club. It was great.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721449)

What a ridiculous comment.

The problem was not the state-ran companies, but the fact that they were monopolies by law. The problem was the prohibition of competition (nobody was allowed to compete against them).

There were opportunities to provide a better service that were forbidden by law.

In this case, the problem is that a law is banning an opportunity to provide a potentially better way of providing the service (like in FREE, get it?).

Is it really better to involve local government bodies in this service? truly, I don't know. But if you pass a law banning it, we will never know would we?

In essence, what is ridiculoues about your comment, is that this law has exactly the same problems as the european telcos that you are mentioning, meaning, that the law kills potentially better ways of providing a better service for users.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721453)

That's because land-line telcos tends towards monopoly no matter where they are, because of the high costs of entry into the market. In America, AT&T was a non-state monopoly for a long time, and service sucked before the U.S. DOJ broke them up.

I remember a American comedian from the '70s (Richard Pryor?) saying something like "If you want to know what communism is like, imagine a world run by the phone company" or something like that :P

I doubt community wireless would have the same problems, because it won't be the only entry in the market and there's minimal costs to start and operate.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721522)

I think the exact quote was...

IN SOVIET RUSSIA, THE PHONE COMPANY RUNS YOU!

/sorry...

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (1)

Godwin O'Hitler (205945) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721473)

I never noticed how bad it was. Neither for that matter did all the people who snapped up the shares as soon as the telecoms were privatised. Most of them thought the service was bloody fantastic: that's why they wanted in.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721535)

BT in the UK hasn't failed, yes it was privatised, but they still have a monopoly in any non urban area. Why? because it just isn't profitable for companies to provide service to people. State run services provide this, and did not fail in doing so. This should be kept in mind when cheering for municipal wi-fi access.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (1)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721556)

What is the relevance of your claim to this bill? Let's say that some town like Austin wanted to set up wireless access points in public areas popular with tourists and business travelers. That would be a tremendous service to the public and would make tourists and business travelers very pleased and make them want to come back to Austin. However, that would be forbidden by this bill. Explain to me what your generalities about state-run telcos has to do with whether Austin should be able to provide a useful service such as the one I am describing here.

Re:State-run telco services have failed everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721567)

Thanks for providing evidence to back up your extraordinary claim!! Only on Slashdot. Btw, I've visited Europe once every 5 years for the last 20 years and have seen no evidence to support your claim that the telephone service was anything but better than the (currently outrageously expensive) U.S. version. How cheaply can you get a telephone line in the U.S.? That's right. I didn't think so.

Sux to their libraries (1)

hazah (807503) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721268)

Never liked those places anyway. (wink wink)

Re:Sux to their libraries (1)

AdmiralWeirdbeard (832807) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721601)

I have this little nagging feeling that texan libraries kinda suck already. not to stereotype or anything, but I have a lot of cousins from texas, and while it could just be the shallow part of my family gene pool, they're not the most well read of my relatives.

It's all about where you draw the line... (3, Interesting)

SteelV (839704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721272)

The United States government already manages many public works. The United States Postal Service (although it isn't completely run by the government, it is largely funded by the government and thus, in my opinion, under government control), as well as many public works. What's different about this public offering? It can be argued that it is a necessary service in our modern age in order to communicate/do business (similar to the USPS). I think the government will probably just mess it up, like it does most things, but maybe give it a shot. Widespread, tax-payer funded Wi-Fi being funded by our tax dollars will hopefully just save it from being squandered elsewhere... but they'll probably just charge us more... sigh!

Re:It's all about where you draw the line... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721277)

What's different about this public offering?

This one poses a threat to the ability of the fat, bloated natural monopolies that run our communications infrastructure to charge whatever they like for their services and never improve them.

And said natural monopolies have lobbyists.

Re:It's all about where you draw the line... (1)

SteelV (839704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721305)

Nonetheless, there's nothing at all inherently illegal about this, and I can only hope that the courts don't consider there to be. If they were to rule it illegal for the government to start offering Wi-Fi to its citizens, then they would also have to do the same for the postal service, as well as countless other government organizations, on the federal, state and local levels, that offer services to citizens that could also be done by the private sector.
And that will not happen.

Re:It's all about where you draw the line... (2, Informative)

davmoo (63521) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721308)

If I'm not mistaken, the postal service has not received public funding since 1982.

Re:It's all about where you draw the line... (3, Informative)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721342)

"The United States Postal Service (although it isn't completely run by the government, it is largely funded by the government and thus, in my opinion, under government control)"

Sort of. USPS receives an annual budget of $0 from the government. According to the union's president last year, USPS is almost entirely funded through the sale of stamps (express and priority mail make up the rest, along with parcel post).

On the other hand, congress still sets rules and regulations that USPS has to follow, so even though your details are wrong, your point is correct.

Re:It's all about where you draw the line... (1)

SteelV (839704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721355)

That's true. But the USPS is in a defecit each years (the stamps don't completely cover their costs), and Congress allows them to take "loans," which I referred to as federal funding. True, it's not really, but sort of, as most corporations couldn't get away with losing money year, after year, after year (well, some do, somehow, but not most).

I remember reading somewhere that the USPS would have to raise stamp costs to nearly $1 to break even.

Re:It's all about where you draw the line... (0)

jcr (53032) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721531)

Keep in mind that the USPS is a government-created monopoly. It is illegal to deliver letters in competition with the USPS. If they had to compete with private delivery services for first-class letters, then we'd find out what they're really costing us in overcharges.

-jcr

Re:It's all about where you draw the line... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721563)

It is illegal to deliver letters in competition with the USPS.

Quick, somebody tell FedEx!!

Re:It's all about where you draw the line... (2, Informative)

AhBeeDoi (686955) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721550)

Your characterization of the Postal Service is incorrect. The Postal Service is completely run by the government. All of its employees are government employees and all of its operations are self funded. Structurally, its set up as a separate government corporation which gives it a measure of autonomy, but the USPS is still answerable to Congress.

Hhm... (1)

moz25 (262020) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721281)

I don't really see a problem with a municipality creating/maintaining the base architecture and having other companies provide service on top of that. That was, it is certain that the access will be there even if it would be commercially unattractive or risky to do so for companies.

How does that work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721306)

It's wireless. You set up transmitter/receivers and they transmit and receive. Once you've put the hotspots in place and plugged them into some kind of pipe to the internet itself, there isn't anything left for "other companies" to provide.

My tax dollars should not go towards (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721290)

things like this. Put my money to freeing innocent people in Iraq and Syria from evil dictators, not towards giving children access to internet smut.

Agree with parent (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721296)

More dead iraqi children plzthx

here's your tax $ freeing innocent Iraqi kids (0, Offtopic)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721314)

Here ya go: see how your tax dollars are freeing so many Iraqi kids [zonaeuropa.com] from brutal tyranny (be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom!). Good to see, aint it?

Re:here's your tax $ freeing innocent Iraqi kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721348)

Yay USA!
Good on your for having the conviction for wanting to install democracy for these poor people.
Oh wait, wasn't the original reason for WMD?

Whatever, looks like they're loving every minute of that freedom.
Freedom to believe in what Bush believes in that is. So no freedom to be gay, have aborions etc. Only free to believe in what he defines as good.
Yay USA!

Mod parent Flamebait. (0, Offtopic)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721366)

Beleive what you will, this is not the place for a political discussion..

This ENTIRE THREAD is a political discussion (1)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721389)

I was simply replying to the subject raised by the parent poster, and that poster's subject was linked to the main subject of this thread by posing it as an alternative. So you know where you cram your censorship, right?

Re:here's your tax $ freeing innocent Iraqi kids (0, Offtopic)

grozzie2 (698656) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721420)

The problem is, this is /. so they dont want to see photographic evidence. Besides, its pictures of gangs of kids running the streets, most of them have guns, some are getting shot. Sounds a lot like downtown LA doesn't it ?

I especially like the series of the american soldiers holding a gun to the head of what appears to be about a 6 year old. Lets put up a yellow ribbon for the 'hero'....

Re:here's your tax $ freeing innocent Iraqi kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721441)

I believe that shot was of a british soldier

Re:here's your tax $ freeing innocent Iraqi kids (2, Informative)

grozzie2 (698656) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721612)

when did the brits start wearing stars and stripes on the shoulder patch ?

They want to ban communications eh? (1)

metricmusic (766303) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721298)

welp here's my school library books, and my half finished homework that was due yesterday. ;)

I have really mixed emotions about this. (2, Informative)

windowpain (211052) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721304)

I like the idea of wi-fi everywhere. I have no great love for or trust in telecom and cable companies.

But I don't have a lot of confidence that local governments could do a better job of delivering a high-tech service.

I don't buy my electricity from my town.
I don't buy my telephone service from my town.
I don't buy my cable service from my town.

I do buy my water from my town (Barnegat, NJ).

It's expensive and everybody I know has a filter on their kitchen faucets or under their sinks.

Re:I have really mixed emotions about this. (4, Insightful)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721329)

Look, America is supposed to be about choice. So one town tries to roll out wireless -- if they screw it up then that will discourage other towns not to, if they don't screw it up. Either way its not the end of the world.

A town just down the street here is running fiber optics to every house/business. Isn't that just cool? Its going to atract a lot of business, and be light years ahead of the surrounding towns. I'm already looking into moving there :) Why shouldn't that be allowed? So some company can make money off outdated infrastructure? No company has a *right* to profit.

Re:I have really mixed emotions about this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721618)

No company has a *right* to profit.

At least now we know where you're coming from. They have every right to try their best to make a profit. If they don't make a profit, they don't stay in business. Fucking socialist!

Re:I have really mixed emotions about this. (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721368)

It's expensive and everybody I know has a filter on their kitchen faucets or under their sinks.

Dude... maybe that's 'cause you live in New Jersey?

Re:I have really mixed emotions about this. (3, Insightful)

quarkscat (697644) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721515)

One thing about the neo-cons, multinational corporations, and megopolists that run this country - they don't want the government to interfere with their "business plans", but are damn quick to seek a government handout in the form of tax credits, specially created tax loopholes, or outright grants & subsidies to their
businesses.

The telecos have been quick to complain about local government (Philadelphia comes to mind here) competeing with their "markets", but have not been willing to spend their money to provide the level of services requested by those same localities. Since the breakup of "Ma Bell", the regional "Baby Bells" have been under more relaxed Federal regulations, as well as some level of regulation by the states. The state regulatory boards have not been doing a very good job of making certain that the regional telcos have been providing a uniform level of service to their citizens. OTOH, most counties have enough regulatory power over the cable companies by granting temporary county monopolies that DTV and broadband Internet access has flourished. A temporary grant of monopoly status along with specific goals and guidelines for improved digital service seems to work well with the cable companies.

That being said, Dubya and his neo-cons, as well as the WTO and World Bank, have used other countries debt service as a means of forcing the
opening of their public utilities to foreign/multinational corporate competition. The provision of clean potable water has become a new "profit center" for the World Bank's corporate allies. Invariably, the quality of service has gone down, municipal workers layed off, and the
price of clean water has gone through the roof.
Some services, such as potable water, should be deemed too important a "human right" to turn over to a foreign multinational corporation for profit.

Re:mixed emotions? I don't have. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721609)

I work with municipal utilities. I've seen the way they do business up close and there's no way I want any city providing my internet service, phone service, cable television service, electricity, gas, or water. City government is characterized by two things - ignorance and corruption.

Cities are run by politicians - mayors and council members for the most part (it varies). A person could be selling shoes one day, be elected to the council the next day, and overnight they become an expert on wi-fi? Not hardly. I know I've seen municipal gas systems run into the ground by ignorant politicians. I wouldn't want my internet service treated the same way.

A city-run utility has an unfair advantage when competing against a private utility company. Cities don't pay taxes. But cities certainly have a love of your money. Municipal employee unions are some of the worst examples of unions. Service sucks and prices rise. Is that what most of you would want?

Right now, only my water service is city-owned. And it sucks big time.

Re:I have really mixed emotions about this. (2, Insightful)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721621)

I buy my electricity from my town. I buy my gas from my town. I buy my water from my town. I buy my sewer service from my town. I buy my phone service from my town. The prices and service are great. My water is delicious.

Re:I have really mixed emotions about this. (1)

AdmiralWeirdbeard (832807) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721628)

I too have an uncle, i mean mixed feelings about this... On the one hand, i like the idea of the internet being literally open to anyone with the hardware. But then again, I'm a big communist and i hate freedom. On the other hand, i'm not sure i like the idea of the government being my isp, having a record of all the things I do online, without having to work for it, either through getting warrants on me, invoking some kind of patriot act BS, (cause as I said, given that i favor equal access to information, I clearly hate freedom) or hacking my shit directly. It just seems like the slope into 1984 will be steeper and slipperier if the govt is everybody's isp. But at the same time, it seems kind of like an inevitable progression once a few cities get it going.

Damn Wify natworks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721315)

New fangled Wify damn it's un American. You support wiffy you support terrorism. Damn. We need more laws to ban everything. If you don't support new laws to ban stuff you are un-American. New laws to ban all stuff stop terrorists from strapping explosives to themselves. damn.

Municipal WiFi is not free. (5, Interesting)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721321)

I do not understand how people can be so cinnic. They do believe municipal WiFi is free? If the city town spends money on it, then it will have to recover them from somewhere else (maybe raising the taxes to all the population, maybe giving less funding to an area that may be more important, or maybe by charging the users -as any company-). It can't just assume its costs and get in red for that.

I think the true reason /.ers like it is because, beeing usually more computer savvy -and having all of them internet- they want their neighbours that do not connect to share the connection costs.

BTW, a previous topic did state that europeans are switching from a public telephonic network to a private one because it is better... nothing more far from reality. Companies that provide social services (Postal, Communications) were often owned by the states(that granted them the monopoly) to ensure that they did provide their service to everyone, even if it was not economical (for example, providing postal service for remote small towns, where the cost of going and check if there is something to send is always bigger than any expected revenue). The reason of privatizing them now has been to allow more competence and to avoid that a state locks its country for other EU companies, and now to get the same social benefits the prefered way is for the state to sponsor them (and I can tell that some of the canges have been for worse; because the greed of the companies to win a contract and earn money often can be noted in the QoS).

Re:Municipal WiFi is not free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721332)

I think the true reason /.ers like it is because, beeing usually more computer savvy -and having all of them internet- they want their neighbours that do not connect to share the connection costs.

I think the reason slashdotters like the idea is because they know the telecom companies well enough to know that left to their own devices, they aren't going to provide this service.

But if the municipality provides it, then, well, at least somebody's providing it.

In other words I think slashdotters like the idea of their entire town having available wireless, and they realize that municipal wi fi is one way this could happen.

Re:Municipal WiFi is not free. (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721458)

Well, for one thing, you don't have to pay taxes to use it...

The definition of 'free' is debatable, though. The library provides lots of free books, but they're paid for by the taxpayer. In common usage, something is 'free' if there is no per-use charge for it.

Re:Municipal WiFi is not free. (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721460)

They do believe municipal WiFi is free? If the city town spends money on it, then it will have to recover them from somewhere else

Maybe. That's the thing about infrastructure though - the cost / benefit thing isn't quite so clear cut. Perhaps the government shouldn't be responsible for roads. After all, not everyone uses them, and so people could just pay for the ones they use. Except that having decent roads makes it easier for people to get around, which has a knock-on benefit on all businesses in the area. Since these businesses have a greater turn-over, they can pay more taxes.

Ubiquitous internet access is the modern equivalent of an efficient rail system. Without it, it is very difficult for an area to be competitive - both businesses and wealthy individuals will move away.

And speaking for the UK, privatisation has been a get-rich-quick scheme for the government. Selling off capital infrastructure has been used to make up for budget shortfalls. This delayed tax increases (yay! More votes). A prime example of this was British Rail, which was sold off under the last Conservative government. Since then, service has got far worse - in the last 5 years I have not been on a single train journey in this country that has arrived on time, my last trip took 5 hours (and was supposed to take 3) - and the taxpayer is still paying for it. Every year, the government allots several hundred million pounds to shoring up the infrastructure, while investors in the rail companies receive dividends.

Any service which is essential to a nation (or municipality) remaining competitive should be accountable to the people of that nation. As a parting thought, I will leave you with the following quote from the BSD fortune file:

There were in this country two very large monopolies. The larger of the two had the following record: the Vietnam War, Watergate, double- digit inflation, fuel and energy shortages, bankrupt airlines, and the 8-cent postcard. The second was responsible for such things as the transistor, the solar cell, lasers, synthetic crystals, high fidelity stereo recording, sound motion pictures, radio astronomy, negative feedback, magnetic tape, magnetic "bubbles", electronic switching systems, microwave radio and TV relay systems, information theory, the first electrical digital computer, and the first communications satellite. Guess which one got to tell the other how to run the telephone business?

Re:Municipal WiFi is not free. (1)

vranash (594439) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721498)

In reply to that BSD fortune:
Which had the bigger guns? :)

I think that's more a statement about how things are done in the world: The people with the bigger guns and the balls to use them tell others what to do and how to do it.

Re:Municipal WiFi is not free. (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721548)

It's far more cost-effective than everyone having their own separate connection though. So it's something that makes sense for the city to run. Like municipal garbage collection, or anything else the city does. It will benefit everyone, some more than others but that's true of everything, and the benefits will be more than the costs, so the city should do it.

Re:Municipal WiFi is not free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721551)

But europeans aren't switching to a private telcos because they are better, but because it makes the goverment of the day look good for reducing spending. the level of service has not improved in the UK at all due to competition, you want a phone / dsl. you have to use BT in anywhere but the big towns/cities.

Your idea that privatisation improves the competancy is a load of crap as well. There is nothing stoping a state running a service in exactly the same manner.

The state of the UK rail network is yet another example of how bad privatisation is, you have companies cutting costs leading to deaths. why a better company can just replace them you say. no companies want to take on the burden of such a huge task.

Essential services should be provided by the state. this includes power, water, telephone network, and transportation systems. That way even if it isn't economical everybody can benefit from them, rather than just the areas companies care about.

Re:Municipal WiFi is not free. (4, Insightful)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721611)

What if a city wants to put up 5 or 6 wireless access points in areas that are frequented by tourists and business travelers? Let's say that they could do it for a few thousand dollars a year. That may be worth it if it makes the city more attractive to visitors. Those visitors spend money and pay hotel taxes. The city is happy and the visitors are happy. But, this bill would prohibit the city from doing this, even though municipal wireless system like this makes a lot of sense. I just think that you haven't considered just how broad this bill is. It bans a city from providing network services. Period. There are some ideas for municipal wireless systems which are probably not good ideas. But why can't they let the municipalities make those decisions?

[Shudder] Texas (4, Funny)

ProjectMayhem (860928) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721338)

Fuck Texas. Let them create stupid laws. Let their talented move to staes that recognize the value of the interweb. While we're at it, let them secede and take their former governor http://www.whitehouse.gov/ [whitehouse.gov] with them! If they don't want their citizenry educated, I suppose it's their prerogative. Where are Texas schools right now anyways? Ahead of Arkansas? Behind Bulgaria?

Re:[Shudder] Texas (3, Informative)

KontinMonet (737319) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721614)

They are very probably way behind Bulgaria. Bulgarian education is excellent. For example, for a small country of less than 8 million, they usually appear in the top 5 at International Mathematics Olympiads (in amongst China, USA, Russia) and they produce superb developers.

Re:[Shudder] Texas (3, Funny)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721626)

I bet more Bulgarians can correctly pronounce the word "nuclear" too.

Hey there (-1, Offtopic)

Hamster Of Death (413544) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721354)

This comment has nothing to do with the subject but since it has a low comment count I thought it could use help =)

Regulating technology to death, eh? (3, Insightful)

shanen (462549) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721363)

There actually are legitimate purposes for government. In this case, the idea of wireless networking replacing most of the wired infrastructure would be very progressive--but anathema to the politically influential phone companies. Of course, those pork-barrel-politicians in Texas are going to jump in and stifle the alternatives. Lots of imaginative possibilities, but if they intefere with big business, just forget it.

In the long run, it doesn't matter. As America regulates and scams itself into technical obscurity, more innovative and--dare I say--democratic societies will have competitive advantages and eventually eclipse her. Mostly reminds me of the 20-year stall on FM radio because the big old boys were perfectly happy with the profits they were making on AM. Eventually FM won out (of course), because it was technically superior.

As an American, I am of course sad to see it coming, but any country where rougly half want Dubya as a leader should expect repercussions.

Did you even read the article? (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721499)

The very purpose of the bill is to promote alternatives, by preventing local municipalities from using tax-money to fund WiFi networks. This is NOT a ban on WiFi. It has nothing to do with existing Telco's or land lines.

Democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721516)

If the people of a city choose an local government that wants to build wavelan - and they are forbidden by the state government, how can one call that democracy?

If the will of the people in one city is to build a free wavelan - HOW can one stop that and still call oneself a democracy?

You'd Think (2, Insightful)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721527)

You'd think that they would want to attract tourists and tech-savvy residents, who just happen to be the people who would be most attracted to municipal wireless. I guess not. Well, their loss. The only people to blame are the Texans who elected a group of people who want to reward telcos and cable companies at the expense of the residents. I should say that I all of my utilities are provided by my municipality and the rates and service are great.

politicians' short term personal gain (1)

Cryofan (194126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721549)

The politicians know that if they pass this bill, they will get "donations" from the telco's, which will go right into their own pockets after they leave office. So passing this bill is to the personal gain of the politicians. What you are talking about is longterm gain for the citizens of Texas. THat is not all that much a consideration fot them. For some of them, yes. But personal gain is foremost, as it always is with any human or animal. What we need is a system that acknowledges this inherent human greed and deals with it. Just like a machine, e.g., an engine, acknowledges and deals with the powerful forces within the engine. Our government is a poorly designed machine. And no big surprise that it is: after all, the core of our government is the federal constitution, over 200 years old, designed by slaveowning aristocrats who explicitly designed it so as to be able to maintain and further their own dominance.

The response is simple... (0, Flamebait)

hobbsbutcher (753062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721546)

The response is simple:
If you're from Texas, call your state legislator and urge them to vote against it.
If you're not from Texas then kindly shut the fuck up.

Re:The response is simple... (1)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11721581)

Instead of shutting up, I'd rather throw a party to celebrate the fact that I don't live in Texas?

in ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721553)

Old Europe we don't have these problems! FB!!!

Welcome to your SBC overlords. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11721606)

SBC the people who brought you:
The web patent [theregister.co.uk] WRT frames previously written about on /.
The 'no muni fiber' law in Wisconsin.

Check the pockets of the 'elected' State officials and you'll find 'em lined with money from SBC.
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