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SBC Promotes Texas Anti-Wireless Bill

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the save-ferris dept.

Wireless Networking 392

rhythmx writes "Details of this bill have been previously covered on Slashdot. SBC has since put up TV ads and a website saying that our telecom laws need to be changed. From their propaganda, "The Texas legislature has the opportunity to modernize telecom regulation and promote innovation to finally reach our goals for new technologies and enhanced consumer benefits." They hardy even mention the bill itself, basically only that it is "Good for Texas -- Good for Texans." This bill has already passed through the House and is now in the Texas state Senate."

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Get a grip. (3, Insightful)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176026)

And what surprises you about this. A large corporation is lobbying both politically and publicly in favor of a position that supports its own interest and is contrary to the general public's interest. This is surprising? This is news?

Here's a news flash. Whining about SBC on Slashdot will have zero effect on this issue. ZERO There is, as yet, no law stopping you from putting up your own website and running your own television "propaganda" campaign on the matter.

What's more is that SBC is at least partly correct when they state that it is unfair that some providers, such as themselves, are regulated while others, such as any new comer, are not. It is unfair. I'm sure you aren't going to lose any sleep over SBC's losses, and neither am I but, if it were you that was being prejudiced against, you'd be crying the blues and singing another story completely.

Re:Get a grip. (4, Informative)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176049)

> What's more is that SBC is at least partly correct
> when they state that it is unfair that some
> providers, such as themselves, are regulated while
> others, such as any new comer, are not. It is
> unfair.

Yet morally, they're on low ground. SBC is regulated for a reason. Care to explain to the readers why, without the spin?

Rather than asking why... (4, Insightful)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176251)

The reason why ILECs are regulated is because the telephone was the primary method of realtime person-to-person communication which wasn't face to face for damn near 100 years, and government decided that it was vital enough to require that telephone service be provided to as many people as possible in as high of a state of reliability as possible. My wireline phone service has "downtime" far less than just about any other service I get.

However, it's a fair question to ask why they're regulated more than their new breed of competition. This new competition (wireless, VoIP, etc) has been far less reliable to this point in my experience. Vonage, while I love it, has certainly had repeated outages in the year that I've had it. It's been more reliable than Windows, but less reliable than my Verizon POTS.

Ditto with my Optimum Online.

If communications are essential for things like emergency service, and are a cause worthy of "universal service" type of access, then we need to regulate them to an extent to get the same level of reliability. If it's not that important, then there's no reason SBC should have to play by these rules, but not their competition.

Re:Rather than asking why... (2, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176520)

You hit the nail right on the head. The appropriate time to find out you don't have 911 service, for instance, is not when you try to call it.

Re:Rather than asking why... (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176536)

I think it's a good argument for updating the regulation, not necessarily either abolishing it or applying it to everyone.

Right now, ILECs have a near monopoly on the "last mile". Cable is about the only near competitor, but as there's never been a universal access requirement for cable, it's not something that can be as universal and thus important as standard telephone wire.

ILECs use their wire to supply a number of services that require that last-mile line but do not, by themselves, need to be provided by the line owner. This is far more true now than it was in 1984, or 1970, or 1950, or 1920, where in all cases building a telephone exchange was a substantial investment requiring a lot of space and a lot of integration with the lines used.

I think Vonage isn't regulated enough. They're allowed to claim they have "911 service", despite the fact their's isn't the same as anyone else's. I think they also suffer from relying upon underlying third parties that themselves have little regulation. If I access them via Earthlink, my phone service's reliability is dependent on Earthlink, BellWhatever, and Vonage, and only one of those organizations is regulated.

I'm not suggesting the government should go over the top, but I think a little bit of standards enforcement would go a long way. At the very least:

  1. Telecommunications operators should be required to be non-discriminatory in the way they manage traffic. The basic division of business vs residential lines worked for decades, now ISPs try to do the same thing by, instead, blocking ports and putting absurd restrictions in their AUPs. That needs to change. The Internet becomes less reliable and less adaptable the more these kinds of technical bodges are applied to it. For them to be applied purely in the name of trying to persuade a home user who wants to access their digital photos from work to upgrade to a $400/month T1 connection is just plain stupid.
  2. Telecommunications operators should be required to provide a minimum service level to all-comers. This doesn't have to be the advertised "Dude! Surf the net at sixteen gigabits!" kind of thing that ISPs try to stay close to, but it has to be clearly stated in the advertising and it has to be reasonable. That service level needs to be both bandwidth and up-time based. It could be as basic as "We guarantee up and downlink speeds of 128kb/s with 99.999% of packets transported through our part of the network at those speeds successfully. We will make a best effort, however, to provide bandwidth closer to 1.5mb/s most of the time. And, at the very least, mandate certain minimum service levels that apply to everyone providing DSL.
  3. These rules should apply when the technology makes it credible. It is credible for DSL. It isn't for dial-up, and it isn't for wireless phone access (2.5G or 3G solutions), so it shouldn't apply for the latter, however those selling these unregulated Internet access services should have a duty of making sure that their customers are aware of this.
  4. Subject Vonage and other VoIP services to the same QoS minimums that ILECs are currently subject to
All of this will annoy the libertarians, but it can come at a benefit of removing some of the cost controls and other controls that currently apply to telephone companies. Regulate last mile access and co-lo charges, but deregulate, for example, regular telephone service pricing and the services an ILEC can offer. Make it a decent swap.

As a general rule, most businesses aren't actually unhappy about being required to conform to standards, unless they're the only people in their sector doing so. Usually, those standards prevent a "race to the bottom", which ultimately hurts the industry over-all while not benefiting those who avoid being part of that race. Restaurants, for example, are all too aware of what would happen if health inspections and minimum health requirements were removed - pretty soon the entire industry would be damaged and people would stop going because of a rash of food poisoning incidents. Level playing fields are good.

I agree, SBC should do unregulated wireless too (4, Interesting)

emil (695) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176180)

Rather than strapping our country into a PSTN that was never designed for DSL data rates, we should have a free-for-all on wifi, where anyone with the dollars can set up a subscription network.

Land-line broadband is hopelessly bundled with services that I don't want (cable tv, POTS). wifi is the only hope for unbundled broadband.

It is tempting to let municipalities do wifi - they would do it well, but the phone companies will always be at their throats with the legislative process.

I'd rather see the FCC set aside much more wifi bandwidth, and have my pick of 50 providers. I probably won't get that either, since everyone in government is bought and paid for.

Re:I agree, SBC should do unregulated wireless too (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176299)

Broadband is not the answer for high speed Internet access.
It is good in low density areas and for mobile applications but it fails once the density goes up.
Even with 802.11g you only have 54mbits. While that seems like a lot it starts to suck when you get 500 people using it. There is a limited amount of bandwidth you can use for wireless. Think about it You can not have 50 WiFi suppliers to choose from. If you put 50 access points all covering one area you will get nothing! They will be stomping all over each other.

Re:I agree, SBC should do unregulated wireless too (1)

arootbeer (808234) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176343)

Land-line broadband is hopelessly bundled with services that I don't want (cable tv, POTS). wifi is the only hope for unbundled broadband.

Not mine...I've got cable modem only. I rarely ever watch TV, so why pay even the $10 a month for a cable signal? My local cable provider (Time Warner) never even blinked when I asked them to trap off the basic and just give me cable modem.

Which strikes me as odd...A few years ago I'm pretty sure they did bundle the services together; I wonder why they stopped? I certainly wouldn't mind paying the extra $10 a month for a 5 Mb pipe, although I'm glad I don't have to.

Re:Get a grip. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176243)

"I'm sure you aren't going to lose any sleep over SBC's losses, and neither am I but, if it were you that was being prejudiced against, you'd be crying the blues and singing another story completely."

well, if i had SBC's budget, id be crying those blues in Cancun.... Think i'd get much pity?

Re:Get a grip. (3, Interesting)

OpenGLFan (56206) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176263)

Here's a news flash. Whining about SBC on Slashdot will have zero effect on this issue. ZERO There is, as yet, no law stopping you from putting up your own website and running your own television "propaganda" campaign on the matter.

So what should we do? I'm asking seriously. Call a state Senator? Write him? Attach a $20 bill to the letter? Seriously, I bet there are thousands of Texas /.'ers who have never tried to influence their state representatives outside of election day. What's the best way to fight this?

Re:Get a grip. (5, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176301)

Call a state Senator? Write him?

Yes, write your representative, tell him he's lost a vote.

Write your own words, without resorting to name calling or cursing, or any other immature stuff that would get your letter summarily tossed into the trash can.

Don't send a boilerplate letter, partake in a mass-mailing, and don't waste time signing some online petition, those go straight to the trash can too (and for good reason, since they all reek of an agenda).

Believe it or not, when politicians start to see a growing number of real registered voters are turning against them, they actually do take heed.

Re:Get a grip. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176432)

> Yes, write your representative, tell him he's lost a vote.

It doesn't apply to this case, since it looks like normal lobbying, but if you really want some action that's a little more punitive than "well I just won't vote for you", send a copy to whatever ethics board oversees that elected official. They get enough letters, they start to think something's really up, they start investigations, they can really ruin a politician's year.

You should only do this for actions that really stink though -- cry wolf enough times, and you destroy the whole thing.

Re:Get a grip. (1)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176448)

Start your own campaign!
Yes, write your congress critter. Perhaps include a $20 ;)
Fax all your congress critters.
Advocate that everyone else call/write/fax them.
Make it easy for everyone, have the contact information available perhaps pre printed.
Start your own web site to inform the public and then get the public to visit somehow. Promise free porn or something.
Post fliers everywhere you can. (Get permission from the property owners.)
Contact your local papers and TV stations, see if you can get some equal time.
Organize a protest/demonstration to get some media attention.
Recruit celebrities to further your cause.
Local celebs are good too, think car dealerships etc.
Raise your voice and be heard!
Keep it all legal, polite and don't be offensive to the general populace.

Re:Get a grip. (5, Interesting)

twifosp (532320) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176393)

And what surprises you about this. A large corporation is lobbying both politically and publicly in favor of a position that supports its own interest and is contrary to the general public's interest. This is surprising? This is news?

Suprising? No. News? Yes.

As a resident of Texas, I actually wasn't aware fo this until I opened up Slashdot today. First, shame on me.

While your general tone of apathy is not suprising, it's also not helping the situation. In fact, Slashdot's "whining" is doing far more than you're overated post. When voting rolls around, I'll be sure to do a bit of simple research to find out which politicians are supporting this type of iniative, and assuming their opponents aren't asshats, vote for their opposition.

I've also forwarded this article to no less than 9 coworkers (geeks), who I'm sure will spread the word. We're all registered voters. So saying zero, no wait ZERO! effect on the issue is just plain wrong. It might only have .00001 effect on the issue, but it's going to have an effect. Votes will be swayed by this.

Lose the apathy, captain whiney, it is what's wrong with this place (and country) in the first place.

On a side note, imagine that. I learned something from Slashdot today. And as a bonus, I learned something before noon.

Re:Get a grip. (1)

joebok (457904) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176474)

Well said! I wish I had some mod points for you.

Spreading information always has an effect.

Re:Get a grip. (1)

The Woodworker (723841) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176505)

What's more is that SBC is at least partly correct when they state that it is unfair that some providers, such as themselves, are regulated while others, such as any new comer, are not. It is unfair.

SBC is regulated because they had a local monopoly on telephone service. I say had, because with newcomers able to set up a wireless ISP the barriers to entry for that portion of the market are low enough that their monopoly control is effectively destroyed.

What they are trying to do is regain the monopoly granted it by the state, once again in that portion of the market. If they were anything but weasels, they would be lobbying to reduce their regulation in the areas which competitors can easily set up shop. By increasing regulation, which they are already set up to deal with, they raise the barriers to entry and can crush the little guy. So when you say it is unfair to them, it shows a lack of...thought, as to their motivations and actions.

Re:Get a grip. (2, Interesting)

denissmith (31123) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176510)

When you say that I as an individual have the ability to broadcast MY message, by purchasing commercial air-time YOU ARE WRONG. You are naive. Go to adbusters.org. They have tried to purchase air-time for commercials for YEARS without success. Television stations will not sell air-time to anyone who questions their pro-corporate message. They don't have to, and they won't. If you believe this is a level playing field, if you believe you have equal access to the airwave you are living a dream world. Try it.

It's all about the spin. (3, Insightful)

mogrify (828588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176027)

You'd hope that any position that a telecom company takes on telecom regulation would be met with an appropriate degree of skepticism. Hey, you can't fault them for trying to spin the issue, but you can't really expect a balanced view of things.

The problem is using phrases like 'fair' and 'well-balanced' to describe a position that is clearly neither of those things. Fox News, anyone?

Re:It's all about the spin. (5, Insightful)

DrinkingIllini (842502) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176163)

Good for Texas...Good for Texans
That has to be the most inane slogan I've ever heard, but I'm sure the idiot majority will eat it up with a spoon.

Spin is a drain on the country. I wish someone besides John Stewart would come out on one of these news shows and call bullshit. All the pundits are just talking heads for their respective parties, spewing inane talking points 'til the cows come home.

Re:It's all about the spin. (2, Insightful)

mogrify (828588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176213)

I hear ya. Funny thing is, he'd be the first one to say that it's sad that he's the only one in the trenches.

This is just one more example of how hard it is to get real, unbiased information these days. It's not just telecom, people.

Re:It's all about the spin. (2, Insightful)

asoko (657763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176318)

It's not harder to get real, unbiased information. It's just that now we're starting to have more sources that can easily be compared, and we're realizing how biased most sources are.

Re:It's all about the spin. (0, Troll)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176481)

I think the problem is that people get their "news" from Jon Stewart.

Re:It's all about the spin. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176225)

I'm so tired of this stupid knee jerk reaction on slashdot to anything having to do with fair and balanced. No one has been able to show any evidence of bias in a Fox news broadcast and yet morons keep claiming that Fox is biased. Why not put CBS in there instead of Fox since there is evidence of bias there.

If there is bias at Fox News then just show some evidence, not just saying it over and over again, and I'll be right there with you. But until I see evidence I'll stand by Fox. And this also goes for any other news broadcast that I watch too.

Bias? (1)

mogrify (828588) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176408)

Hey, everyone has bias, man. Fox is out to make a buck, too, just like everyone else. I focused on Fox because of their use of the phrase 'fair and balanced' to describe their reporting.... because SBC used the same phrase here. As my original post indicated, I don't have a problem with bias (it's unavoidable!), but I do have a problem with pretending you are unbiased when you clearly are not. CBS owned up. Has Fox?

Full disclosure: I'm biased as hell against Fox. Sue me.

Re:Bias? (1)

DoubleWhopper (871075) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176557)

CBS owned up? If I commit a crime and then turn myself in, I've owned up. If I commit a crime, get caught, and then admit what I've already been caught for, I'm playing for mercy and/or stupidity - not owning up. There is a difference.

Re:It's all about the spin. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176514)

The thing is that bias isn't like Jayson Blair making things up. Bias is simply the result of only reporting what you want to report. How do you prove or disprove that unless you're on the inside?

Re:It's all about the spin. (1)

burninginside (631942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176501)

hey if you have proof that fox is biased then go for boortz's fox news challenge [boortz.com]

This reminds me... (4, Informative)

Philosinfinity (726949) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176047)

of when SBC got the Illinois house and senate to draft, vote on, and enact a bill of their liking in less than a week. This was record time in our state. The amount of money this company dumps into state politics is so insane that they are entirely able to control the elected officials or fund the campaign of the person who will replace them in the next election.

In other news... (-1, Offtopic)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176063)

Slashdot user k4_pacific promotes Anti-Texas Bill.

Radio... (4, Interesting)

jmrobinson (660094) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176105)

They've also put up radio commercials featuring the "telecomedian." and I quote:

"Back in my day, a blog was a creature from the deep!"

"Back in my day, PDA meant Public display of affection!".

They portray it as laws holding back technological innovation, when in reality those laws help save us some $$$, and help the small businesses get a foot in the door. I grind my teeth every time I hear those commercials.

Re:Radio... (4, Insightful)

Loco3KGT (141999) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176160)

Save you money?

How does the government installing wireless everywhere save you money? The government is paying for that with tax dollars. You remember taxes? Where the government takes your money and gives it to someone else?

Re:Radio... (1)

jmrobinson (660094) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176303)

Okay, I don't see your point. Wouldn't that save us money since we are not having to purchase it through SBC?

Re:Radio... (1)

dustmite (667870) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176548)

Exactly, the idea is that the government could deliver the service at cost, while SBC provide the service at cost plus big profits. However governments are usually less efficient since there is no competition. So what it boils down to is that you're either going to be paying for wireless plus inefficiency, or you're going to be paying for wireless plus the massive bonuses, mansions, expensive cars, private jets etc. of the executives and major shareholders of SBC.

In any case this is supposedly a democracy, so the choice should be up to the people. If the majority of people in a community want to fund a public wireless service with their tax dollars, and they vote to do so, then it must happen, because the people decide, not the government, and certainly not corporations (who do not have an inherent "right" to make money). The government is only a structure to implement the common will of the people.

Re:Radio... (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176582)

"...with their tax dollars, and they vote to do so, then it must happen, because the people decide, not the government"

There is sort of a contradiction there. Once tax dollars are involved, you have the government making decisions for the people.

Re:Radio... (2, Informative)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176328)

How does the government installing wireless everywhere save you money?

Didn't they do a survey a number of years ago that discovered that many people do not understand the connection between the government's money and taxes? There are people who think the government just has its own money to spend.

Re:Radio... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176529)

> There are people who think the government just has its own money to spend.

No, but one presumes they're pulling it out of some other fund. It could be the opulent new stadium, it could be for maintaining schools... General fund and all that.

It's an infrastructure thing. Why is it, with the exception of hardcore Randroids, we don't see the same argument made against roads? The utilities (that receive generous state backing in exchange for their regulation) have thus far failed to blanket the municipalities with wi-fi, so the state is the implementor of last resort.

That said, I'm not too keen on having taxpayers fund something that's noncompetitive, so there needs to be competitive bids on who actually runs it. This being Texas politics, I'm sure it'll be whomever gives the biggest kickbacks.

Re:Radio... (1)

mattmentecky (799199) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176338)

Because competition drives prices low, even if that competition is government sponsored?

Re:Radio... (2, Insightful)

GlassUser (190787) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176365)

Save you money?

How does the government installing wireless everywhere save you money? The government is paying for that with tax dollars. You remember taxes? Where the government takes your money and gives it to someone else?


Or, the government votes to have a third party install this network for a guaranteed monopoly and rates set by this local government. No tax dollars spent there.

Of course this wouldn't be too dissimilar to the SBC scenario, except that the local government (municipality, I'd guess) would have complete control over who does it, and what they charge.

Re:Radio... (1)

asoko (657763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176401)

The problem with guaranteeing a monopoly is that this third party will have no incentive to improve its services to compete with other vendors. Though the rates may be the same, the service won't.

Re:Radio... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176546)

The problem with guaranteeing a monopoly is that this third party will have no incentive to improve its services to compete with other vendors. Though the rates may be the same, the service won't.

Sounds like SBC! Yes, I live in Texas.

Re:Radio... (1)

DuckofDeath87 (816504) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176372)

That is an easy one. Companys make money off of services. Whereas the government does not. They still have to pay people, but the owners do not take a great deal of money off the top. The government (hopefully) would do the wifi at cost.

That being said, the world is far from perfect and the government will likly be ripped off enough that it may negate the savings. Though, it could work if the people in office do it right.

Re:Radio... (1)

tardlet (303541) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176468)

A little trigger happy today are we?

I believe the money savings he was referring to was from current laws that set price controls on regulated services. These same laws also allow for small companies to get a foot in the door through leased lines, etc.

As for your point about taxes, you are assuming there would be a tax increase to pay for the project which isn't necessarily the case. So, if I'm paying the same taxes I would have paid anyway and I now pay less for internet access through a wi-fi network, I am still in fact saving money. Do you remember taxes? The backbone of every country and culture?

Re:Radio... (1)

oldosadmin (759103) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176585)

"Back in my day, PDA meant Public display of affection!" You know, I work at a school system as a security guard, and saw two kids basically humping each other in the lunchroom. I walk up to the Asst Principal and say "What's your policy on PDA?..." she said "Well, as long as they keep them under their clothes so you can't see it it's okay"...

Talk about an alkward moment :-!

dyslexia (1, Funny)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176131)

Damn... at first glance, I thought this story headline read "SBC Promotes Wireless Anti-Texas Bill".

Re:dyslexia (1, Funny)

badmonkey (29600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176193)

more like wishlexia :)

Re:dyslexia (0)

Sebby (238625) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176425)

That dyslexia damn!

Re:dyslexia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176461)

Great idea! (as would be a wired one)

In other news: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176139)

Ads released state the Social Security is doing just fine and we shouldn't listen to the haters and we need to save the filibuster as it is part of the American way. I suspect ads regarding those evil activist judges will soon follow. Everything in this damn country is political and needs a focus group-tuned ad to state its position. You can't even take a piss in this country without a lobbying group and 1000s of pages of legislation to cover the societal impact and federal role in voiding yourself.

Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (5, Insightful)

awhelan (781773) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176154)

As a libertarian I'm generally against state governments spending tax dollars on services that people would otherwise pay for themselves, but municipal Wi-Fi is not a bad thing. The goal is to provide information to people who wouldn't normally be able to access to it. It's not anti-competitive because people still need cable or DSL if they want their own IP address, a more reliable connection, a web server, or just more bandwidth... if they don't need these things then DSL/cable wouldn't be worth it to them anyway. Free Wi-Fi is no more wrong than having free public libraries... or more relevantly, free internet at public libraries. What is the difference between providing your citizens with encyclopedias for reference at libraries, and access to Wikipedia via municipal Wi-Fi? I will admit that I have purchased fewer books because I have had access to public libraries, but bookstores still have their place. Sometimes I would really rather own a book than check it out for a week. This service provides very basic internet access, and anybody who wants more than that will pay for it. SBC should not be any more worried than your local bookstore.

...and if you disagree respond insted of just modding me down, I'd way rather hear your point than go to karma hell =)

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (2, Insightful)

FreeLinux (555387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176216)

As a libertarian I'm generally against state governments spending tax dollars on services that people would otherwise pay for themselves, but...

since I would personally benefit in this particular case, I am perfectly willing to cast my libertarian principles aside.

So, what's the difference between you and the state congress critter that gives in to corporate lobbying?

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176524)

"since I would personally benefit in this particular case, I am perfectly willing to cast my libertarian principles aside."

Thats because "Libertarians" only actually have one principle: "I'm alright, jack."

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (1)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176237)

"As a libertarian I'm generally against state governments spending tax dollars on services that people would otherwise pay for themselves,"

Why? at times, that's the most efficient way to do it.

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (2, Informative)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176282)

not to a hardline libertarian. To those people, if the free market can't do it, it's not worth doing. See also: Dale Gribble, King of the Hill.

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (2, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176519)

not to a hardline libertarian. To those people, if the free market can't do it, it's not worth doing.

I hate that kind of self-proclaimed libertarians. They're the nuts that think every cooperative venture in their ideal world must be some sort of corporation driven by market forces. Real libertarians realize that people can just get together and (say) form a volunteer fire department rather than everyone having to subscribe to a for-profit fire-fighting service if they want their burning house doused.

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176389)

It seems to me the two of you aren't in disagreement. He's saying he's "generally" against something, and you're saying "at times" it's good. Maybe those times when it's efficient are what caused him to say "generally" instead of "always".

And yes, I would say that "generally" the government is not the most efficient means to acheive a goal. Governments aren't generally set up to be efficient, and they usually have little motivation to be efficient, so they generally aren't that efficient. But then again, sometimes "efficiency" isn't really the point, is it?

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (2, Insightful)

CharlieHedlin (102121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176267)

But what about all the companies that have invested to put WiFi where it is? Is it fair for the cities to decide that it should be free and drive them out of business?

How is this different than Microsoft giving away Internet Explorer to drive Netscape out of business? How is this different than Microsoft giving away Media player hurting real? These are all things that have seemed good to a vast number of consumers, they got something for nothing. It also drove competition between Netscape and Microsoft, but led us to the spyware hell we are in today.

Corporations looking to protect their interests aren't evil. If the cities are going to drive the inovative hotspot providers out of business what incentive is there for the next innovation?

Disclaimer, as in the past, I have a small financial interest in a national WiFi provider. Before you tell me to get rid of it, its a bad possition, sometimes we don't have that choice. Dispite this disclaimer, I believe everything I have written.

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (2, Interesting)

awhelan (781773) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176513)

Is it fair for the cities to decide that it should be free and drive them out of business?

No, it isn't fair and unfortunately somebody is always going to lose. Starting a business is a gamble, and there is always a risk of something like this happening. It's more a question of whether or not it benefits the general public. To stick with the library analogy, if your company offered the same services as a library and charged members a $20/month fee, then the government suddenly started building libraries and put you out of business, that would be awful for you, but it doesn't make libraries a bad idea.

How is this different than Microsoft giving away Internet Explorer to drive Netscape out of business?

Intent? The government would do this (all corruption theories aside) to provide citizens with a free service, not to tighten their monopolistic grip on the Wi-Fi Market.

Slightly regressive... (1)

telbij (465356) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176311)

I'm with you, but I think wireless Internet currently goes a little bit beyond basic services. 20 years from now I hope things are different, but the number of people with a wireless laptop are still probably in the minority, and hence taxing the general public wouldn't really be fair since you are benefitting those who could probably afford to pay for it themselves.

I guess for me the bottom line would really be the cost factor.

Re:Slightly regressive... (2, Interesting)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176532)

Why does everyone always equate wireless access with laptop only? Say your city proivdes free wifi access for its citizens. Slap a $50 PCI WiFi card in a $300 Dell and your your up and running. There are various charities that give away computers for those who can't afford them (I've been involved in 3 at different times). Possibly the municipality can even buy PCI WiFi cards in bulk and distribute them to whoever comes in to sign up for their free wifi access and demonstrates a finacial need, or gives or sells at cost to local charities that give away computers.

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (2, Interesting)

YoJ (20860) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176334)

I agree with your sentiment, but there are more considerations. Every issue has points in favor of allowing the government to do it, and points against it. I think the best way to answer this question is by starting with excludability, then possibly making arguments against the general principle if a particular case has novel features. The principle of excludability says that the government should provide services when the cost of excluding non-payers is higher than the cost of the service. When a service is excludable, i.e. only people who pay for the service get it, then private industry is a better option. The free market will come up with more efficient solutions than a government if the service is excludable, but the government solution will be more efficient if the service is not excludable. Under the principle of excludability, roads should be government funded, universities should be private, electricity should be private, air pollution should be regulated by the government, libraries should be private. What about wireless? I think right now there is a significant cost of excluding non-payers. This is the login window where you enter your Cingular account info (or whatever). But, this time cost is much smaller than the monthly wireless service charges, so I believe that wireless should not be provided by the government. I can also imagine many technological measures that make excluding non-payers very cheap.

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (1)

asoko (657763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176456)

Do you count major highways in roads? Toll roads are excludable.

It is NOT free (2, Insightful)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176473)

It is not FREE... it has to be paid by someone. I for one do not want my taxes going to pay for some teenage boy's ability to surf for pr0n. Plus, whenever the gov't gets involved, regulation, restriction, and censorship are not far behind. Finally, name one major profitable telco/provider that does NOT run more efficiently than any entity within the government.

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (1)

asoko (657763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176496)

Why should libraries be public? They can charge very low fines / membership and still make a profit. I don't know about the public libraries where you are, but the ones I've been to had a computer book section that averaged 10-15 years outdated.

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176535)

"but the ones I've been to had a computer book section that averaged 10-15 years outdated."

But aren't all those books like "21 Games for the Commodore VIC-20", "Easy Guide to Wordstar 4.0", and "Visicalc for the Apple //e" so useful?

Re:Free Wi-Fi not so bad... (1)

DuckofDeath87 (816504) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176530)

Well, for one, nothing is free. If they get wifi, there will be more taxes. If I got DSL and still had to pay for the wifi, it would accually cost me even more money for this 'free' wifi.

The goal is to provide information to people who wouldn't normally be able to access to it.

I belive librarys already do a better job of this than wifi. Computers are not cheap. The librarys provide both the computer and the internet connection to the public. You can get dail-up in a city for a rather low price. If you can afford a computer, you really should be able to afford that.

On that point, why public wifi? Why not public dail up? It would be much cheaper for everyone. Most name-brand computers come with modems. I belive not very many come with wifi cards. If the public wifi is anything like the wifi at my school, then I would sooner take the dial up.

SBC should not be any more worried than your local bookstore.

SBC is scared of this because people would have to pay for the wifi. They would stop getting their DSL because there are already paying for wifi. Why should you have to pay for two internet connections when you are only using one?

Well, this is depressing (5, Insightful)

the arbiter (696473) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176168)

Good God, this may be the most depressing thing I've ever read.

This bill is no different then, let's say, forbidding the citizens of a municipality from forming their own fire department...and making only one company the legal provider of "fire protection services".

In short, SBC is asking the state of Texas to provide them with a legally-approved monopoly. And the state is doing it.

When does this stop? When will citizens realize that the very people they're putting in office are signing over every right and interest they have to corporations who has no regard for their health, safety, or welfare? (And I'm hoping that the citizenry is ignorant of what's happening, because if they're not, the notion that people are willing to sign over their democratic rights is too depressing for me to contemplate)

Re:Well, this is depressing (3, Interesting)

CharlieHedlin (102121) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176332)

It seems like there are a lot of companies doing WiFi than just SBC. Sure, they don't want it taking from the DSL or cable revenue, but I doubt that is likely to happen. So how does asking the government not to drive corporations out of a new industry give them a monopoly?

This just prevents the government from getting a monopoly.

Everyone here is just eager to get taxpayer provided Interet access. think about this not in the terms of what you get out of it. Think of it more as "do we want the government owing our ISP?" Think of the goverment abuses and censorship that happens now.

Re:Well, this is depressing (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176493)

Good God, this may be the most depressing thing I've ever read.

You should read more.

Other links on Texas HB789 (5, Informative)

sartin (238198) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176186)

The bill history for HB789 [state.tx.us] is interesting. Notably, it shows how quickly (and without a recorded vote so those of us who live in Texas can't even accuse our representatives of actually supporting this legislation) the bill passed.

Austin Wireless [austinwireless.net] and Austin Wireless City [austinwirelesscity.org] both have coverage of what it means to Austin. The Save Muni Wireless [savemuniwireless.org] group was put together in response to challenges like this; they include much better commentary on why HB789 is a bad idea than would be worth repeating here. If you really want to understand the issue, check some of these sites.

Even the High Tech Broadband Coalition [unibex.com] (a group of telecom, hardware, and software companies) was against HB789.

Several local news stories:

For those in Texas who want this law changed, it's probably a good time to call or write your state Senator today before this bill sails through committee and a floor non-vote.

Re:Other links on Texas HB789 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176578)

What is really funny is that the Capitol building provides free wireless access. Info here [state.tx.us]

Consumer Activism (3, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176211)

Here in Britain we also have a situation where prominent industry figures are increasingly represented on state regulatory boards.

If you can't rely on your politicians to refuse industry funding, and the fox is guarding the henhouse as a result of this, perhaps its time for someone to start protest sites and organise bodies to protest for the consumer instead of allowing legislation for the benefit of the industry

Protest at SBC and Verizon's offices, shops, outlets, as well as at state legislatures and ballot boxes. It might work....

Actually (5, Interesting)

Inglix the Mad (576601) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176217)

I have ZERO tolerance for this crap (but am not suprised by it). I also have ZERO sympathy for any phone company. They act like THEY paid for the copper and fiber. Maybe in the last couple of years they paid for some, but our tax dollars (possibly going back to your grandparents generation) paid for MOST of the cabling in this country. At least cable companies paid for their own dang lines. Though their bloodsucking sometimes too. In the end, Texans should act like Texans and shoot these thieves.

Nannies love the proliferation of public wi-fi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176224)

They've been looking for a way to impose community standards on all Internet content, and this will be the perfect opportunity for control.

Oh, if only that headline read... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176227)

"SBC Promotes Wireless Anti-Texas Bill"

The real worry here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176228)

...may be how this is going to apply to WiMax.

Astrotruf by Democracy Data & Communications L (4, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176285)

That web site is operated by Democracy Data and Communications LLC [democracydata.com] , makers of Democracy Direct 7.1 (Click for demo.) [democracydata.com] . Features include:
  • "In 48 hours, Congress is set to vote on a bill that could cost Eva's organization $50 billion. To defeat this legislation, Eva will use the Democracy Direct 7.1 Communications Wizard to mobilize her stakeholders to generate emails to targeted legislators".

    "Full grassroots and PAC management functionality"

    "Legislator targeting".

Run the online demo. Especially the "asset tracking system", which generates maps It looks like Hollywood's vision of something a corrupt organization would use. But it's real.

Re:Astrotruf by Democracy Data & Communication (1)

the arbiter (696473) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176326)

Thanks for posting those links. I honestly wouldn't have believed such a thing existed otherwise. Orwellian indeed.

Govt. Subsidized Wifi is a bad idea (3, Interesting)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176292)

Altoona PA subsidized a local non-profit to provide dialup internet service. Same excuse as normal: promote high technology.

The result:

1. The non-profit did the same mediocre job that every government subsidized project does.
2. Most of the independent ISPs (including the one I worked for) pulled out of Altoona since we couldn't compete (not enough people buy on quality; most buy on price).
3. As broadband was deployed, all the non-ILECs stayed out of Altoona.
4. The available options for Internet service in Altoona suck rocks.

Government subsidized anything sucks the life out of a market and just about guarantees stagnation. They're right to block it in Texas!

The better issue to be made is open access to the public infrastructure. The ILECs and cable companies use your right-of-way that you, the taxpayer, own. They should be compelled to open that part of their infrastructure to competitors at or near cost.

Re:Govt. Subsidized Wifi is a bad idea (3, Insightful)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176390)

Obviously you've never had an internet connection provided by a for-profit company. Time Warner is much like calling the government. They don't care, they know they're the only choice you have. I think after a month or two of no service you might get a refund. Maybe. If you complain enough. I fail to see how a governmental non-profit could do worse. Perhaps just as bad...

Re:Govt. Subsidized Wifi is a bad idea (2, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176426)

And if Time Warner were required to open the public right-of-way portion of their infrastructure there would be a dozen small companies vying for your business. That would actually move towards solving the problem. Government subsidy just makes it worse.

Re:Govt. Subsidized Wifi is a bad idea (1)

asoko (657763) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176543)

The problem here is that Time Warner doesn't have enough competition because it's already large enough to circumvent regulations that hinder starting companies. A good chunk of the work in starting a company is dealing with the tangle of laws in place that benefit huge corporations who have pull in congress.

Re:Govt. Subsidized Wifi is a bad idea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176555)

The same thing is happening in Tempe, AZ. A good friend lives there. The city, along with Arizona State U started offering free wifi.

From what I hear, the local phone co's have basically put a halt on rolling out DSL, and the cable company is talking about dropping broadband. So pretty soon, the only options for internet access will be the overtaxed, and frequently down WiFi, or dialing LD to get to AOL.

"How To Drive Away Business 101"

This would really suck (5, Interesting)

kerrle (810808) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176293)

The city I live in - Corpus Christi, TX - is about to become the first metro area of our size (~250,000 people) with full WiFi coverage. There's a report on it here [prontonetworks.com] .

It would really suck if we had this infrastructure and weren't able to allow people to access it - the plan was to have full Internet access from most of the city.

The network is already up, with a nice page that explains what it is when you connect and open up IE.

Only two things in Texas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176361)

Texas? Only steers and queers come from Texas, Private Cowboy. And this legislation don't look much like a steer to me so that kinda narrows it down.

Fuck Texas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176371)

They get what they vote for.

Communism / Socialism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176383)

I'm glad that everyone is getting on board with communism / socialism these days. State and local governments should offer more taxpayer funded services to the general public that compete with existing businesses.

Other free services I would propose.

1. Free cell phone service.
2. Free gym memberships.
3. Free taxi service.
4. Free lawn service.
5. Free utilities.
6. Free automobile manufacturing.
7. Free gasoline.
8. Free computers.
9. Free higher education.
10. Free food.

Of course taxes might have to be raised a bit, but it surely any one of these services would be worth it.

Re:Communism / Socialism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176484)

Yes, damn those pinko communists! Look what they have done to wreck our society:

1. Free primary education
2. Free roads and highways
3. Free police and fire protection
4. Free libaries (knowledge is an evil communist tool)

As you can see, this is an ever growing list of how the commies are trying to overthrow good ol' Christian family values! Free wireless access is just a plot to force pornography down our innocent children's throats and make them worship Stalin and Lenin!

Re:Communism / Socialism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176512)

Since gas will be free, don't forget free ass and free grass.

Deep in the heart of... (1, Flamebait)

null etc. (524767) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176392)

YeeeHAH!

We're Texans! We done damn know freedom, so let's vote as Texans to do this thing!

While we're at it, let's vote for legalized prostitution! Texans always like a good romp in the sack, and by golly let's vote for this thing because we're Texan!

And now, come to think about it, let's vote for legalized guns in the workplace! Texans always used to carry their guns to work, let's get together as Texans and rally together a huge Texan vote for this Texan-commonsense policy for Texas!

YeeeHah!

Re:Deep in the heart of... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176423)

*While we're at it, let's vote for legalized prostitution!*

you'd like to pay taxes for buying services from a hooker?

Re:Deep in the heart of... (1)

GAMMAH_DJ (767495) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176428)

I love the world's Texas-stereotypes... I live in Texas and I'm pissed about this; let's say a citizen group wanted to band together and put wifi APs in their homes, prividing coverage for an area of a city; I wonder if this would be outlawed by this bill. I don't really want my city providing wifi, I want them to fix all the terrible roads; but I also don't want my government to sell out to corporate interest (ok, yes I *know* they already are!)

Re:Deep in the heart of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176471)

No, this bill just prevents the government from providing telco services, and directly competing with the local telco.

It says nothing about little upstart companies, private citizens, universities, etc..

Complaint (2, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176409)

Why did zonk squeeze this into the "hardware" department, and not politics or YRO?

I have slashdots "politics" section blocked for a reason. I don't care about your whiney "me hatey boosh" flamefests.

I want to read about neat hardware, and hear some discussion about things technical.

Categorizing this news as "hardware" is pretty much akin to circumventing spam filters.

In the future, don't try to trick me into reading about your political views.

I am not intrigued, and would not like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Irony.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176410)

If you lookup the house journal the day of the vote, you will find a sweet bit of irony....

"The invocation was offered by Dr. Charles D. Walton, senior pastor, First
Baptist Church, Conroe, as follows:
Heavenly Father, we assemble today in an effort to accomplish what is best
for the citizens of Texas. There are good people here with good hearts, good
minds, and good intentions even though, we confess, Lord, there are times we
find it difficult to admit this to one another."

Since I never plan on going to Texas..... (1, Funny)

g0hare (565322) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176462)

I don't care.

Hands Off! No need for regulation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176488)

Those corrupt and shady Texas senators should keep they dirty hands off our internet. We already have more than enough regulation as it is and do not need any more.

screw texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12176588)

they screwed us, now let SBC screw them.

hmm (2, Funny)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 9 years ago | (#12176607)

SBC has since put up TV ads and a website

I suppose it's encouraging that SBC thinks there's enough of a correlation between pulic support and a bill passing that they're campaigning with ads and a website...?

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