Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×
The Almighty Buck

Make Way for Fiber 137

habit1 writes: "It seems that the big telecoms have gone and run cable across property without paying the rightful owners. These owners, mostly private landowners, are now part of a class action lawsuit which might not only result in a cash settlement, but a jointly owned corporation that owns some of the fiber itself. If you live next to the rails, you may get that fiber optic line quicker than you thought ..."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Make Way for Fiber

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    way to go fella' you really put on a good show so far. But don't get cocky kid, the champ can really hurt you if you don't stick to your sound bite parroting and illogical and hypocritical meanderings... stick in there kid. here, use this next round! If anyone points out that corporations are made of people and that not only does this point to the FACT that there are good ones and bad ones, but if you strip away the company you have good and bad people. And that it is logical to be carefull not to stereotype and generalize, unless you want to have it done to you. And when they mention that RE-actions to certain keyphrases and such makes you less human and more of an Internet filtering device, and that you should disregard the FACT that your very means to talk on the phone, watch TV, sit your fat ass on a couch, and look at porn and blabber on this sight is run by companies... WOW! You just get violent and start throwing up picket signs and making personal attacks. Hell, while you are at it, why not lobby for some restriction on other peoples rights and choice?!

    Instead of being a civilized sentient being that is responsible and adds to society and life, be a leach that is lazy and steals from others, and would rather sue than work for money. Would the home owners/renters prefer that ugly superterranian containers be put up? Was anyone hurt by this, or is it "The Little Red Hen" story where the fat ass bastards that didn't help in the making of the bread, sure do want to eat it all after it is finished? "Its the principle that matters" Yet the ones that say this, then refuse to apply it to their other little rants and causes. Yeah, steal music, but thats OK, hell lets make ourselves feel even better by saying we are Paladins of Societal Protection or some such.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a simple matter of ownership. When a railroad company wants to run tracks across your property, they must purchase or rent it from you. . .

    No, its not just a simple matter of ownership, that's the whole point in fact.

    Historically, railroad companies were granted extensive rights of ways by the government during the construction of the lines. What land along the rail lines that wasn't granted to them, they did in fact usually purchase outright. The problem comes in because over time ownership in the surface rights became divested from ownership in the subsurface rights. In oil producing (and other mineral producing) areas subsurface rights are frequently bought, sold, and leased separately from the surface rights themselves.

    As a result, it appears the problem has been that while the railroads still own the surface rights, in certain cases they no longer on the subsurface rights and these fiber optic cables are being laid underground. The question thus becomes a very legally pointed one: where does surface ownership end and where does subsurface ownership begin? Can surface owners only lay things down on the ground, or above ground? Can they not even disturb the dirt by even a milimeter? Would they act of driving on the surface and creating wheel ruts violate surface ownership and in fact be an illegal violation of subsurface rights? If a milimeter of depth is ok, then how about 10 centimeters, now how about 4 or 5 feet?

    I am, of course, being pointedly extreme in my questioning, but that is an attempt to show that clearly any equitable use of "surface rights" would also involve some minimal amount of use of top layer soil "subsurface rights". Thus, if the telecommunications companies laid cable five feet underground along a railroad line where surface ownership was clearly established... wouldn't that be sufficient? It seems slightly ludicrous to me that subsurface owners feel that they should be compensated for a cable run in what most people would feel is a valid, "surface" use. After all, it is not as if these fiber optic cables are being buried 100 feet or 5,000 feet below the surface through productive oil and gas zones, or something. To take an absolutist stand on the meaning of "surface" versus "subsurface" flies in the face of equity and common sense if you ask me.

    I agree with the article when it says that many executives in the industry are disappointed and in cases angered by some of these early settlements. These cases should really have been litigated. Surface rights don't end at the very first grain of dirt, or at least they shouldn't. If so, then how could any "surface" owner every lay a pier-and-beam foundation, build a basement, pig out post holes for a new fence, or dig out a swimming pool. It truly becomes ludicrous to say that in such cases, subsurface owners should become part owners of such essentially surface uses.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, the railroad tracks are an issue because Qwest has laid the vast majority of their fiber lines along railroad tracks. Why? Qwest, many many years ago, was actually a railroad company. The owner decided to switch from doing communications and railroads to just comms. So, he sold off the railroad aspect of the company, but he kept the rights to use the land around the track in any way that he saw fit. Good deal for the big Q, if you ask me.
  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @10:16AM (#190683) Homepage
    Why was the lawsuit filed against the telcos? From the article, it seems that the railways were more to blame, for lacking legal authority to grant permission for the telcos to dig in the first place.

  • Of course any self-respecting geek would forego the settlement money in exchange for fiber to the house, and a lifetime T3 instead of a chunk of future profits.
  • Depends. What if the property line was right down the middle of the tracks, and you and your neighboor both agreed to sell to the rails.

    Now, when they laid the fiber, they laid it on the neighboors side of the tracks, not yours.

    Bummer :)
  • Yes...you could get a nice pretty fiber to your house. But do you think they'll give you the bandwidth for free?

    "Sure - here is a one-time-cost - the physical fiber. If you don't want it dark, that'll be $2000 for 1.54Mbps, $20,000 for 45Mbps."
  • If I accidentally dig up a cable or pipe on "my" property, more than likely I will be in trouble. I should have consulted with local and county authorities ($$$) and checked with all imaginable utility companies in order to make sure that I wouldn't be causing any problems for them. I could be held liable for the costs of repairs and be fined for such audacity.

    Here in my area, you just call 800-MISS-DIG a few days before, and they'll have all the utilities and such come out and mark everything for free.
    If they mark it, and you damage it within 24 inches of the mark, you pay. If they didn't mark it correctly, and you break it, they pay.

    This is based on a discussion I had with the foreman of a directional boring crew doing some work for my company. Pretty neat, they can run up to a 12" pipe and only need to dig a hole in the ground every 100 feet or so.
  • by crisco ( 4669 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @12:36PM (#190688) Homepage
    the uninformed opinions on Slashdot and the profiteering lawyers disgust me.

    So many posters don't mention the entire concept of land use rights that is a well established part of US property law. I'm no expert, but I've seen the effects of mining industry lobbying, who pay miniscule 1870 era pricing for mining rights on public land.

    I've always understood the same to hold true for property, that different rights can be bought and sold for multiple uses of the land. Farming or grazing rights above ground, separate water rights, mineral rights, etc. I bet there is a well established body of law on this that clearly spells out what can be done by who.

    And a bunch of people have suggested that fiber be run an inch below the surface. Who on the face of this planet wants their fiber an INCH underground where I can sever it digging with those plastic sporks from KFC!?!? Isn't it bad enough when the idiot with the backhoe severs a line a few feet down? I'm sorry, but I want my fiber deep deep down where it stays connected a few years at a time and where some idi0t who reads a slashdot story about the CIA splicing undersea fibers can't get to it to try to splice in to get his pr0n faster.

    Chris Cothrun
    Curator of Chaos

  • Is it hypocrisy or just duplicity? The corporate mindset illustrated here is quite consistent: make money by any means necessary. It would only be hypocritical if there were earnestly held beliefs that were contradictory. Last time I checked, PR spin doesn't count as "belief."
  • depends on whether or not the RR is at road level or not. There isn't all that much noise if they are below the road level (as in the case of where I used to live), yet when they have to sound their horn at road level it is rough (as it is here in NW Ohio).

    I have noticed the fiber running along the tracks in PA for sometime (many years). I always wondered why they just didn't add drops in those areas. How many people would be against allowing them to run the fiber to the homes in the surrounding areas? I would be all for it. Why waste it and just let it sit there. Run the damn shit to the homes... I would love to have FAST FAST FAST fiber connections :)

    The hell w/whiners. Bring on the FIBER!
  • What you have just stated has been used successfully on 3 occasions. What is in the air-waves is free for the taking :)
  • What if the R.R. Co, and I am not suggesting they did, falsely represented that they HAD the rights to authorize the cable ?
  • There are cables layed underground near every modern RR as part of the control and monitoring system.
  • Didn't the railroad companies need to have subsurface rights in order to drive their railroad spikes into the ground? :)
  • My property as well as that of many of my neighbors back up to railroad tracks.

    There is without question fiber running under these tracks, it belongs to MCI, they put a big orange sign back there stating as much.

    It is very unlikley that I could see anything coming out of this or similar lawsuits to my benefit because like most similar homes in the US the residential property lines were drawn up many years after the railroad was in plave.

    This point is illustrated in the article when they state Under that settlement, the roughly 20,000 property owners whose land adjoined railroad tracks used to lay data cables will get about $6,000 in cash per mile, as well as 10 percent to 15 percent of any profits that T-Cubed gets from leasing its fiber-optic network to other companies.

    20,000 homes is a very very small number compared to all of the miles of land on which tracks lay. I suspect that the railways in question are newer railways, of which there aren't so many, I also suspect that many of them are in fairly rural areas.
  • I could grant you a license to the WinNT source code under the GNU License. Then, if you used it, Microsoft would sue *you*, and not me. You are the one that is using their IP without a proper license.

    Of course, then you sue me for fraud. So. Since the telcos did the digging and violated property rights, you sue the telco. It is the telco's responsibility to get proper authorization. Then, if the telcos feel that the railroads defrauded them, they are of course free to sue them as well.

    Of course, I don't necesarily know what I'm talking about, but that seems like the way things should work.
    --
  • by rde ( 17364 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @10:22AM (#190697)
    If I were to guess (and it is a guess), I'd say that the fault (apparently) lies with the telcos because they laid fibre on other people's property. It doesn't matter that they had permission from the railways; they railways didn't own the land, and the telcos didn't check that they asked the right people.
    Of course, I imagine there's nothing to stop the railway companies being sued by the telcos for (what? negligence?)
  • I know for a fact that some railroads only purchased the rights to operate a (surface) railroad over the land in question, with the original property owner holding all remaining rights, even though it's difficult to do anything with land with a railroad on it. Thus, when the railroad ceases operation, plans to turn the land into a bike path or whatever fall to pieces.

    Well, they *can* fall to pieces, but it isn't inevitable. Here in Missouri, they turned dozens of miles of the old Katy railroad right-of-way into the Katy Trail, a state park which is essentially a bike path. And the city of Columbia pulled a separate deal to turn a railroad spur into that city into a separately run bike path.

    The way this worked was via the little-known National Trail Systems Act, which provides a way for unused rail corridors to be set aside for future transportation needs and used on an "interim" basis as recreational trails. You do have to pay for this, though, and a lot can go wrong when you're trying to secure a big contiguous chunk. In the case of the Katy Trail, they now have 225 continuous miles of it, which apparently generates a better return in terms of tourist spending and the like than the railroad ever did.

  • I'd tell them they could keep the money and leave the fiber on my land as long as I could get a fiber drop to my house and free t-3 for life...

    It seems like bandwidth has been following a Moore-like curve. 15 years ago I had a fleet of 2400 baud modems which were the envy of all the other tech geeks. 10 years ago I had a bunch of high-tech 9600 baud modems. These days, 56k is slow and broadband/DSL is barely acceptable.

    Asking for T-3 now may be like wishing you had a 9600 baud modem 15 years ago.
  • Indeed. It looks like the telcos licensed from the railcompanies to bury cable, but the rail companies didn't have the rights to dig according to their lease.

    I think the telcos think they have a better chance of burying this in litigation and/or settling with the owners than risk losing the use of the fiber if the rail companies lose.
  • Do you have references for this? Im pretty sure that this has been changed.
  • Sorry for the confusion. I geared my post more towards line being laid in general. Around here the railroad companies own the land they have tracks on (except when they pass through cities). If the line is being leased for railroad tracks already and they then lay line along side of it for another purpose entirely, I could easily see some conflict arising. The land was leased for one purpose and was then use to server an additional purpose. That could easily be the cause of some trouble for somebody. Anyhow, I probably should have spelled out what my scenario was written around. Whoops! :-)

    --

  • I'm interested to see that myself. What about in the immediate airspace above land (-500 feet)? Can that be sold separately? It seems like CMU or some other university declared the airspace above their campus to be their property to keep wireless conflicts from happening. I guess they don't realize that all HAM radio operators (which must be licensed) take precedence over those same ranges and can do whatever they want in those ranges legally. Someday we will have to go down in the ground or up in the air. I'm really curious how that will be handled. We may not be alive when that comes to be though. :-)

    --

  • by macdaddy ( 38372 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @10:38AM (#190705) Homepage Journal
    so let's see here... these people are willing to have a large, noise, huge moving metal mass move through their property at any time of night, but they think they should be compensated just to run a cable that does not move, does not look any worse than the tracks, does not make noise, does not stop traffic, and does not pollute? I can't believe how selfish these people are. What's the problem with laying a cable?
    It's a simple matter of ownership. When a railroad company wants to run tracks across your property, they must purchase or rent it from you. When a cell or radio provider wants to put a fenced in tower and small shack on your property, they must purchase or rent it from you. When you lay an oil, water, or gas pipeline across my property, you must pay rent to me each month. This is the case just south of my home town. In the late '20s a gas line was laid across south-central/south-eastern Kansas. It crossed the family land of a friend of mine. The gas company gave the owners of the land two options. One was $100 in cash. The other was that the price of gas for whomever owns that piece of land will never go up higher than the cost of natural gas the year the line was laid. That's right. They still pay gas prices from the late '20s. Nice. :) Do you think that just because you want to lay a few strands of fiber in the ground that you are exempt from paying me some sort of restitution? I don't think so. What happens if I'm a farmer and you laid the fiber in the ground across one of my fields. I go out one weekend and rebuild a few terraces in that field and end up digging up that piece of fiber. Was it my fault? Unless I gave permission to put that line there (and believe you me I wouldn't do it unless I could have some compensation for baby-sitting it), it is trespassing on my property. You trespassed when you put it there. You dug a trench in my field. That's destruction of private property. Like I said at the beginning, it's a simple matter of ownership.

    --

  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @05:28PM (#190706)
    What happens when the trains stop running? This is not an idle question - a lot of lines have been abandoned over the past few years. Some people have even claimed that the real value in many remaining rail lines is in the legal right-of-ways, not the rail itself. That's what makes this suit so ironic.

    Right now, in many (most?) cases the landowner can rip out the track, plant a garden, dig a pool, whatever. He has full use of the land again.

    But now, without any consideration offered, he's enjoined from any such use after the original contact lapses. He can't dig very deep - that would cut the cable. He can't build over the cable, since the fiber optic company would have the legal right to tear down his house to reach their cable. He might not even be able to farm it, depending on how deeply the cable is buried.

    He can also anticipate ongoing access. It's unlikely that this was the last fiber optic cable that will ever be laid along this route. The digs might be mildly disruptive when there's an active rail line there, they'll be major disruptions once the rail is gone.

    That's why I think the question of surface vs. subsurface misses the point. The real issue is a fundamental change in the nature of this commitment. It's not hard to imagine many (even most) rail lines being abandoned during my lifetime, but not a fiber-optic line. In a city, anticipating possible uses decades away is crazy. But in rural areas that have been farmed or ranched for generations, it's a real loss.
  • Something I forgot to think about...

    Perhaps we should look to history for a solution to this problem - what happened when telegrams needed to be sent to a city/town that had had the track abandoned leading to the town (and consequently, the telegraph, which was invariably part of the rail system)?

    I guess one could argue that without the rail line, the town turned to "dust" and "blew away"...

    How did we get where we are now with phones? Is everything going through those fibers next to railroad tracks? What about when it was copper based long distance - same deal (buried copper next to the lines)?

    Are there already people who got rid of the abandoned rails, cleared the land, built a sub-division over it all - only now, lurking beneath the surface is a tangle of copper cable carrying (some) phone conversations?

    Interesting, indeed...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @10:44AM (#190708) Homepage
    These people want to be paid because the fiber was laid alongside of tracks, in ditches - "subsurface" - which is not stated as part of the rights originally sold to the railroad companies by the owners, only "surface" rights.

    Had the railroads and telcos thought of this originally, they could have laid the fiber in pipes along the track, or up on poles, or something similar - and been in the clear, legally.

    But what constitutes "surface" vs. "subsurface"? Is an inch below the ground on the surface, or the subsurface? A foot? Three feet? Since the railroads laid the tracks, and needed to install telegraph/switching equipment, which meant putting in poles - they had to dig down several feet for those poles - is that "subsurface" use, and thus the owners of the land should be paid for poles put in the ground? Sure, the poles are many feet apart - but what if they were only a couple of feet apart - is that a "subsurface" ditch, or just many "holes"?

    These people are just money hungry - the ditches are generally dug in the surface or between the service road for the railway and the track itself - and not very deep, either (2-4 feet, IIRC). If these property owners were smart, they would just do the "fiber to my house" plan in exchange for the new use of the property.

    Plus, as a mind exercise, couldn't you just think of the fiber as a high speed mail train, with the packets of information being cars on the train and... Ah, nevermind...

    Worldcom [worldcom.com] - Generation Duh!
  • I would like to implement a per-bit toll on the stuff going through my property. Bill Gates is talking to me about helping me with it. He's drooling though, you think it's from using Windows point-and-drool interface?
    --
  • It isn't as if the surface-subsurface distinction is something new that the lawyers came up with. It's actually a common (ubiquitous?) clause in any real-estate contract to specify exactly what type of rights are being bought. For example, on the property where my house is, the contract specifies that I own oil and mineral rights only down to 500 feet. Below that, I suppose it's owned by someone else.
  • "The cable is driven into the ground from a machine on the rails."

    That probably depends on who is doing the burying of the cable and where they are doing it. In my neck of the woods (albeit not in the US) I have seen fibre being laid by big machines driving over the surface of the land. That is, not on the tracks. I highly doubt that it is always done from a machine on the rails.

  • Yup, I saw it and thought "How come so cheap?" AFAIK, 40% is the norm for US contingency cases, and that's after expenses. Maybe class action is different.


    We have very different perceptions.

  • Agreed future profits increases the amount of money received. And IANAL but "future profits" are an unusual part of any settlement. Lump sum is more customary. But percent is percent, whether now or in the future. The lawyers could have asked and often get 40% from their clients. The Courts have no say.


    The US legal practice around contingency cases is unusual in the Western world. AFAIK, In other common-law jurisdictions, a lawyer would be disbarred for such usurious agreements. The usual rule is that contingency fees cannot exceed normal "pay as you go" [taxed] fees. This makes the US more litigious than otherwise, but it is not the only reason. And perhaps the litigation is needed from a wider social perspective.

  • Ever fly anywhere? There is just SHITLOADS of uninhabited land. In fact there's more uninhabited land than developed land. So WHAT'S THE PROBLEM if I just drive 100 miles out into the desert and put up a fence and build a home there? I can't believe how selfish the gov't and the BLM are. The Federal Government owns 90% of my home state of Nevada? Now THAT'S selfish.

    And the indians owned 100% of it before the feds did.
    rbb

  • Thats all we need, Esther and Billy Bob running the fiber industry. Damnit isn't chewing tobacco enough!

    Seriously though... I doubt anything will come out of this for the people who were suckered into a class action lawsuit, since the lawyers are the only real winners in class action suits for one... Secondly I'm guessing this likely has to do with Qwest since I'm too lazy to read YALSA (Yet Another Lawsuit Article) but seen the mention of railroad tracks...

    So if this does have to do with Qwest here's my .02SKR on it. Qwest paid the railroad companies to lay down the fiber alongside the railways, meaning if the railroad companies agreed, the agreed because they had the rights to do so, meaning its their property, and whatever they want to do with it is fine.

    You can't tell a company they can't place their fiber lines after paying the railroad company(ies), because the railroad company(ies) already paid for that land bottom line. Now if they wanted to make stinkers they should be suing the railroad companies for not disclosing the fact that they (the rr companies) would sublet out the land, which still wouldn't make sense unless the RR company(ies) is/are leasing the land. Then even still it's not the fiberco to hold accountable it's still the RR company(ies) fault.

  • Interesting... the DOT doesn't have "drilling rights" either. So, does that mean millions of people should run out and sue a miriad of utility companies? (water lines, gas lines, phone trunks, and cable TV can all be found within the DOT RoW boundries.)

    This is 100% lawyer bullshit. The sad thing (besides 45,000$/mile!) is the evil lawyers will win -- and walk away with 25% or more of the billions in settlements.
    • What happens if I'm a farmer and you laid the fiber in the ground across one of my fields?
    Then you'd have a train track smack through your corn field (or whatever.) The fiber is buried next to the tracks -- e.g. within a few feet.

    • it is trespassing on my property
    Wrong again. Have you ever watched fiber being laid on RR right-of-way? (Obviously not) The cable is driven into the ground from a machine on the rails. They are no more tresspassing than Amtrak.
  • by Cramer ( 69040 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @01:37PM (#190718) Homepage
    This is about surface vs. subsurface rights. It doesn't matter weither it's an actual lease or easement or whatever. The terms of the agreement are what's at issue. In the case of the "20,000" mentioned, the terms may have explicitly precluded burying or "sub-leasing" anything.

    In all cases I am aware of (and there haven't been many new rails laid across North Carolina in recent years; in fact, some have been removed), the rail lines purchase right-of-way identical to that of the DOT -- with the exception that you can refuse to sell to a railroad.

    The DOT certainly does not own the land overwhich they place roads. My property line actually extends to the center of the road beside the house. And that is on the deed. So, when they move a road, do I have to purchase "my" land back from the state? (No, because they don't own it. That's one of the reasons you cannot refuse to grant/sell right-of-way.)

    The "contract" (100 year lease as I recall) allowing Duke Power to run a transmittion line across my family's property specifically states aerial deployment. They are not allowed to bury cable across the acres of pastures. (And they did surprisingly little damage in the process, btw.)

    I stand by my original "lawyer bullshit" comment. The lawyers jump up and down on behalf of the issue because they stand to make a substantial fortune. The actual people "wronged" will walk away with next to nothing. (Remember the Iomega suit? After years, all the complaintants get is a rebate for more useless Iomega crap, and the lawyers get millions.) The detemination of how much they've been wronged (if at all) is something only a lawyer would quible over -- is six feet "subsurface" (are we counting the foot or more of dirt, sand, and gravel put there by the railroad?)

    I repeat my original concern... if you can sue the railroad for "subsurface" use of your land, what's to stop people from suing any number of other utilities who bury things within the state's right-of-way? To quote a conversation between an NCDOT District Engineer and the Iredale County Water System Manager, "as I recall, your water lines are on DOT right-of-way. It'd be an aweful shame to make you move them."
  • I'd tell them they could keep the money and leave the fiber on my land as long as I could get a fiber drop to my house and free t-3 for life...
  • so let's see here... these people are willing to have a large, noise, huge moving metal mass move through their property at any time of night,


    They, or more likely a previous owner of the property was in fact compensated for this when the railroads bought the surface rights to the property.

    but they think they should be compensated just to run a cable that does not move, does not look any worse than the tracks, does not make noise, does not stop traffic, and does not pollute?

    I don't think they are objecting to the fibre optic cable, its just that they want to be compensated for a new and different use of their property. Isn't that the American way? When someone uses something we own we get paid?
  • It's highly unlikely that the cable company is doing this using the city's eminent domain powers. Almost always, if utilities are in your back yard, one of the utility companies has an easement to use your property - check your deeds to find out where it is, if you don't remember from when you bought your house. It'll typically say that they've got the right to put stuff along whatever chunk of your land they're using with some width like 6 feet. If you didn't sell them the easement directly, probably the builder who you bought your house from did (since you're in a new neighborhood.) If they're in the front of your house, either they've got an easement there, or perhaps the city actually owns the street and the chunk of grass between the street and sidewalk, or has an easement for that area. Again, it's usually not eminent domain, it's a deal the builder did.


    And wiretapping your cable company to steal internet access is likely to be difficult, depending on which protocols your cable provider is using - even if the transmissions aren't encrypted, the address assignment is usually tied into the billing mechanism somehow. You're better off paying your neighbor to put in an 802.11b wireless LAN instead.

  • But that's also 25% of future profits. Is that normal, as well? Somewhere up above, somebody mentioned getting natural gas at 1920s prices--it pays itself off over time, and then some. Seems like 25% of future profits would do the same.

    Andrew.
  • Did the native peoples believe in land ownership?
  • Ummm... doood! You think that the cost to access the fiber AND the actual bandwidth COULD be included in the the judge's/jury's decision? It's not a hard concept, its called inclusion!
  • As fas as I can see from a cursory glance at the article, the problem is that the railroad companies do not own "subsurface rights" and therefore were not allowed to let the telcos dig a trench to bury their fibers.

    So the solution is apparent: The telcos should donate the existing fiber to the landowners and lay new fiber in a surface conduit. Which I think they should make nice and big and paint fluorescent lime green with orange polka dots :P

  • If only I were a lawyer hired by Giant Fiber Company to defend them against this suit. The prosecution's lawers are including a % of future profits as part of their fee, and so would I!

    -matt
  • <pedantic>The 9/10 quote is just a mutated meme. Possession is actually nine points of the law. The saying may come from common law or canon (i.e. church) law traditions. It is unclear how many points of law there were at the time of the quote, but if the number of lawyer jokes is any indication, the nine points of possession are much less than 9/10 of the law. Sorry about this, but you triggered one of my pet peeves. This one's name is Daryl.</pedantic>
  • by moby ( 96858 )
    too late... the FCC already took away your right to use certain natural frequencies so that others may broadcast them through your property for their profit.
  • That's not really a fair comparison. I have a fridn who owns some property that is covered, on all sides, by property owned by someone else. My friend has been granted a Right of Way over a small section of the land so that he can access his property. My friend wanted to run electricity to his property and did so along the right of way. The person who owned that property sued my friend because he had wires run over thier property without permission. They won the case. If I use your logic in my example the people getting sued would have been the company running the wires. I really don't see how that is right. The company running the wires didin't do anything wrong, my friend did.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\=\=\
  • Umm... Napster was hardly rich when they were sued, in fact they were not bringing in any money as I recall.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\= \=\=\=\=\
  • I'd love to have fiber drops inside my house - ever since reading of such in SnowCrash a while back.

    Funny how folks near railroad tracks may have depressed property values due to the noise polution, but may have a high-value technology asset to counter. I still think community wireless will take over before glass-in-the-ground dominates.

  • Lets face it; these lawsuits aren't filed because some concerned property owners feel like their property is being abused by these companies. Some lawyer or law firm saw a 'cash rich' industry and decided to figure out a way to sue them. And now, since AT&T caved once, it's open season on the telco companies. Now I'm not saying that the property owners are in the right; nor am I saying the telco's are in the right. What I am saying is; "this was instigated by lawyers, for lawyers, and you can 'bet the farm' that if they could find some legal way of keeping all the money they were suing for (on your behalf) they would.
  • I hear ya. I've given up on making any sense from the moderation system. Everytime I make a "funny" post, it gets moded down as either offtopic or troll. If I make an offtopic comment, it gets funny ratings. Mods on crack, or maybe a clueless system.
  • Maybe you just have a really bad sense of humor?

    Heh, maybe, but more likely, moderators don't read the guidelines: attempts at humor are NOT offtopic.
  • In Australia, licenced telecommunications carriers have some legal right to lay cable without any compensation for the owners of land or buildings.

    I found this when I ran Zeta Internet [zeta.org.au] and we laid coax up our building's telecommunications riser to provide some other tenants with Internet access. The building owner was cool with it until I sold the business to Pacific Internet [pacific.net.au] and then he wanted to be paid for the use of the riser. So anyway I checked the legislation and found that under certain circumstances carriers have this or that right. Nevertheless we offered a fixed payment per annum and the owner didn't accept it and he stopped talking to us. I think it was a lot less than he was hoping for :-)

    I can't find the legislation right now, unfortunately but it should be somewhere under http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ ta1997214/index.html [austlii.edu.au].

  • I think the people that should be legally responsible are the railroads. They are the ones that licenced out digging rights on the land when they had no rights to do so.

    That said I think the homeowners saw a chance to get something for nearly nothing (the railroad already rendered that land useless to the farmer) and I get really pissed when that happens. If anything some of the compensation to the railroads for laying the fiber should be passed back to the homeowners. It seems that the phone companies tried their level best to get the appropriate rights and they were given fools gold by the railroad companies.

  • This depends on the original deal with the railroad. Some railroads own their rights of way outright, but some only have easements. Those with easements typically have the right to run a railroad over the easement, but not, say, to build houses on it.

    This has been litigated to the Supreme Court level in a "Rails to Trails" [emory.edu] case. The landowners won, and will get compensation.

  • Therefor, it is my opinion that the government should use its right of eminent domain to allow those lines to be laid along the railroad tracks without any sort of settlement being needed to private citizens. There is precedent for this - power and phone lines are sometimes laid using eminent domain.

    I don't know what you are assuming, but there are very few cases in which an eminent domain taking is not compensated. There will be a settlement to the property owners even if uncle same steps in and if you individual users of a luxury service* don't want it adding to your bills, what makes you think I would want it coming out of my taxes?

    *"benifits all of us" indeed. Yeah, just like a mall does (eminent domain has been used for that too). Where are the damn libertarians on this one? probably drooling over their high speed access....

    hmmmm.... eminent domain... must read ROADWORK again. Bachman.....

    Kahuna Burger

  • Heh, maybe, but more likely, moderators don't read the guidelines: attempts at humor are NOT offtopic.

    well, not if the humor is sufficiently related to the topic at hand, no. I was more thinking of off color humor being ranked as trolls, but I don't know your posting enough to assume. :)

    Kahuna Burger

  • The network companies went thru the railroad companies to get the rights to lay the fiber. It's not like they did it at night trying not to get caught. My guess is these agreements between the landowners and the railroads are decades old and a lawyer decided it was a chance to get rich. I doubt if the network companies knew that the land really didn't belong to the railroads.

    Which is why if someone with a brain had worked for them, they would have done a title search before laying the wire. I suppose they could countersue the railroads for misleading them and recoup some, but I'm suprized anyone dealing with this project had never heard, say, the word "easement" before. The line isn't actually buried under the tracks, after all, and in some areas, surface rights aside, the area they dug in may well be an easement between the railroad and the adjoining owner.

    The land in a lot of the cases was probably also taken by eminent domain and thus could be expected to come with a few caveats.

    "A lawyer decided it was a chance to get rich". When did you guys turn into communists, anyway? A company saw a chance to save money on actually buying easements by working with another company that saw a chance to make millions on a yard wide strip that it can't use, but someone sees a way to make money AND give money to thousands of small property owners too and the lawyers are the ones you jump on?

    Kahuna Burger

  • Everytime I make a "funny" post, it gets moded down as either offtopic or troll.

    Maybe you just have a really bad sense of humor?

    Kahuna Burger

  • by KahunaBurger ( 123991 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @01:29PM (#190742)
    There are cables layed underground near every modern RR as part of the control and monitoring system.

    probes memory.... me seems to recal riding trains and seeing such lines either on the ground, on poles or on metal walls againt steep embankments. Not to say that they aren't underground (where I would not remember seeing them) in many other areas, but I would not jump to the conclusion that all railroad tracks already have cable buried beside them.

    Kahuna Burger

  • To muddy the waters further, when tracks are being laid, usually a berm is built up on the surface to support the ties and rails. If the cable is laid in the built up area for the berm, would that still be considered subsurface?
  • Settle for a few grand per mile, then bitch when your long-distance and 'net fees double. Oops.

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • by YIAAL ( 129110 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @10:12AM (#190745) Homepage
    Funny how when things like Intellectual Property stand in the way of individual creativity, big companies talk about the majesty of the law. But when things like, well, Real Property stand in the way of big companies, they become mere technicalities.
  • yes of course...a few inches...Let me get my cleats out.
  • The government can make you sell your land, build a highway, or a power line, and thats considered quite alright. I think this is a little different, seeing as they didn't get permission, but its not like they really hurt anyone. I'm about to sue DirecTv for broadcasting into my yard without my permission.

  • Just in case all the people saying 'Let 'em off the hook for a link to the house' don't recall.. not everyone wants/needs/knows what the internet is. Joe Farmer may well still use a radio for weather forcasts, and read the paper.. Believe it or not, Slashdot at 25MPS is not gonna help his corn grow.
  • In some areas, underground rights are seperate from above ground rights. The trains had right of way and were able to grant permission to lay cable ON the ground.

    I'm going to bet that the telcos will file a lawsuit for fraud against the railways. They granted (for a price) them use of area they did not have rights to grant. Then some lawyer will get hit with a malpractice lawsuit for not catching it.

  • "If the companies are not concerned, we're not concerned," said one Wall Street telecommunications analyst who asked not to be named. "Most of us aren't lawyers."

    The person who said this either probably had his quote taken far out of context, or, if he didn't, well, then I believe he just might be quite the moron.

    I'm sure Phillip Morris wasn't "concerned" that the Tobacco lawsuits might be succesful. I'm sure
    Microsoft isn't worried that the antitrust trial might be sucessful. There are many more cases where companies are "absoultely convinced" that such problems aren't problems.

    Companies protect their PR zealously. They have to. If they let go of even a tiny bit of pride due to a problem, even a potentially disastrous one, the acknowledgement of it can have a disastrous effect. When it comes to such problems, the media will be evil and the investors become sheep.

    None of this changes the fact that this guy was willing to make a just-plain-silly statement, and ZDnet actually quoted him on it.
    --
  • Funny how when things like Intellectual Property stand in the way of individual creativity, big companies talk about the majesty of the law. But when things like, well, Real Property stand in the way of big companies, they become mere technicalities.

    Funny how when big companies use legal loopholes against open source advocates and "open" IP in general, Slashdotters get hopping [slashdot.org] mad [slashdot.org], but when loopholes are used against big companies the Slashdot crowd turns a blind eye [slashdot.org] and laughs with glee [slashdot.org]. It's nice how we're much more fair than big companies, isn't it?

    --

  • This isn't the government doing it. It is the big telecommunications companies and the railroads. If it was the government implementing this we wouldn't have heard a peep about it. Apparently we still have a few rights when big corps. try to run over us, at least if you are a property owner. Hopefully this will help set a precedence. Hopefully next time big telcos will think twice before purchasing land rights from someone that has no rights to them. If they don't learn, then hey... I have a bridge they might want to buy also...
  • Looks like living on the "wrong" side of the tracks might just be the "right" side of the tracks after all :-)
  • Well I can tell, you have never lived next to a airport. BTW there are above ground rights, its just the goverment owns them. And is transferable to any agency, the military, cia, nasa ect...
  • My Cable Company [cox.com] Did this too! As a result I was the first on my block to get a cablemodem. As long as it benefits the consumer and provides and / or enhances life for the community I don't see why it should be a big deal. Of course it is expected that they repair any damage done (grass etc) when laying stuff like this out. We had a ugly trench in our yard for a few months.....
  • Yeah, I feel the same way, because I have the local UUNet fiber line running on poles in front of my house. But, you know what? They aren't going to run fiber into the surrounding homes. The telcos can make a much better profit forcing residential customers to use shitty DSL at $80 a month or more than they can running a direct fiber connection into their homes. It's all a matter of supply and demand. The telcos keep the supply small, bandwidth-wise, and hence can keep the prices high because it's usually the only choice for broadband that people have in a lot of places.

    --

  • by laserjet ( 170008 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @10:15AM (#190758) Homepage
    "In the modern age, it's not oil underneath farmland that gives those underground rights a price tag--it's fiber optics. And Ackerson says hundreds of thousands of property owners who have seen data cables laid along railroad tracks just the other side of their backyard fence should have been paid for use of their property, whether they knew it or not. "

    so let's see here... these people are willing to have a large, noise, huge moving metal mass move through their property at any time of night, but they think they should be compensated just to run a cable that does not move, does not look any worse than the tracks, does not make noise, does not stop traffic, and does not pollute? I can't believe how selfish these people are. What's the problem with laying a cable?

    pretty depressing.

  • True, but I suspect the way the right of ways are written that is in support of above ground functions (i.e. the Train). Of course, I have no idea how those contracts have been written, but I suspect the reason a suit is taking place is because the RRs have oversteped the bounds of what they were origionally allowed to do. Right of Ways are a huge pain in the ass to deal with which is why it makes sense for the Telcos to go to a RR. Only one "owner" to deal with, assuming that the RRs do, indeed, own the proper right of ways.

    What would be nice to see are a few examples of the Right of Ways that are in question. Does anyone know if, due to the court cases, they've been posted anywhere?

    If you don't have anything nice to say, say it often.

  • As far as I know, highways are never built on an easement (as some railroads apparently were), but instead the state owns the land underneath and therefore can do with it what they will.

    Now, if you check your property deed and it says "Electric Co. has an easmement to string powerlines across your land", wouldn't you be a little concerned whey they started burying fiber (thus inhibiting certain development),building a pipeline, or a road for Electric Co trucks? No, you'd probably write it off as "lawyer bullshit" and let Electric Co steal your land.
  • I'm going to bet that the telcos will file a lawsuit for fraud against the railways.

    In certain cases (Sprint and Qwest), the telco was a spin-off of the railway with the only asset being the cable rights. (Actually, Qwest was more complicated than that, the railroad was spun off from the telco which took it over to get the cable rights.)

    If it turned out those rights didn't exist, the lawsuits could be huge between these companies, not to mention investor lawsuits if it comes out that the entire premise of the company (cable rights) was mis-stated. No wonder everyone's keeping quiet.
  • The article portrays this as an issue of "surface" versus "subsurface", but I doubt it's that simple.

    I know for a fact that some railroads only purchased the rights to operate a (surface) railroad over the land in question, with the original property owner holding all remaining rights, even though it's difficult to do anything with land with a railroad on it. Thus, when the railroad ceases operation, plans to turn the land into a bike path or whatever fall to pieces. In some cases the land even reverts to the original Indian tribe which controlled the land.

    Now, it's one thing to operate a underground railroad telephone network. It's entirely another to run telco cable. My guess is that's the issue there, but without more facts there's no use spinning up the anal distinction gizmo.
  • Can you name a situation where utility or railroad rights were purchased with "emminent domain"?

    Besides when Indian land was given to the railroads, that is.

    The only time eminent domain purchases are common is highway projects and some urban redevelopment projects (where lots need to be consolidated or decontaminated).

    Anyway, it's always amusing to see some redneck moaning about "his" property when he appararently hasn't (or can't) read the deed to determine exactly what property rights he does or does not own.
  • by MrBogus ( 173033 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @02:08PM (#190766)
    This is about surface vs. subsurface rights. It doesn't matter weither it's an actual lease or easement or whatever.

    That's what the article implied, but it's ZDNet, not a law journal. Some railroads were built on an easement to run a railroad (much as with your arrangement with the power co). Since neither of us know, and some companies have actually settled, I think the safe assumption is that there's a case.

    No, because they don't own it. That's one of the reasons you cannot refuse to grant/sell right-of-way.)

    The reason you can't stop the government from building a road has nothing to do with ROW versus outright purchase - it's because the state uses eminent domain. I can tell you that there's 1000s of miles of highway land owned outright by the government, and my guess is that a ROW grant is the more unusual of the situations, but it probably depends on the state.

    And if the DOT is selling ROW access on your land for things other than roads, you probably have a case, unless the easement allows it.

    The actual people "wronged" will walk away with next to nothing. (Remember the Iomega suit? After years, all the complaintants get is a rebate for more useless Iomega crap, and the lawyers get millions.)

    True, but in the case referenced, they got 75%. Not bad for a contingency case.
  • Will be contracted at a low fixed price, however I will be employing the precedent set by all Service Providers. Namely, prices will be increasing exponentially every month despite all contractual obligations.
    IANALBIAAA ("I am not a lawyer, but I am an a-hole)
  • Hmmm...does look a little off, I agree, although the green is right. A work in progress, perhaps?
  • by jeffy210 ( 214759 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @12:02PM (#190777)
    So if possession is 9/10 th's of the law, would i possess 9/10 th's of their bandwidth?
    -------------------------------------- -------------------------
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @11:34AM (#190783)
    So the solution is apparent: The telcos should donate the existing fiber to the landowners and lay new fiber in a surface conduit. Which I think they should make nice and big and paint fluorescent lime green with orange polka dots :P

    Hmmm... In the year 2080, an elementary school class is taking a field trip in a shuttle-bus powered by corn oil:

    Teacher: Okay, students. If you'll look out the left window, you'll see the length of the 'FiberTrain'. It's that lime-green thing with the orange dots all over it.

    Student: My sister's hair looks like that!

    Teacher: It used to be a track for a horrible device that we now refer to as 'Environmentally Incorrect'. Back in the twentieth century, people referred to them as 'locomotives' or 'steam engines'.

    Student: They were used to transport homeless people across the country, right?

    Teacher: That's right, Billy! Now what are they used for?

    Student: They transmit data feeds to homeless people?

    Teacher: Billy gets a star! After the corporate wars of the 2030's, anyone who had property that conflicted with existing intellectual ownership had to forfeit the property. Luckily something like that could never happen today in the good ol' United States of America Online-Time-Warner-Ford-Sony-Gates Co.
  • by Art_XIV ( 249990 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @12:04PM (#190786) Journal

    It's a simple matter of ownership. When a railroad company wants to run tracks across your property, they must purchase or rent it from you. When a cell or radio provider wants to put a fenced in tower and small shack on your property, they must purchase or rent it from you. When you lay an oil, water, or gas pipeline across my property, you must pay rent to me each month. This is the case just south of my home town. In the late '20s a gas line was laid across south-central/south-eastern Kansas. It crossed the family land of a friend of mine. The gas company gave the owners of the land two options. One was $100 in cash. The other was that the price of gas for whomever owns that piece of land will never go up higher than the cost of natural gas the year the line was laid. That's right. They still pay gas prices from the late '20s. Nice. :) Do you think that just because you want to lay a few strands of fiber in the ground that you are exempt from paying me some sort of restitution? I don't think so. What happens if I'm a farmer and you laid the fiber in the ground across one of my fields. I go out one weekend and rebuild a few terraces in that field and end up digging up that piece of fiber. Was it my fault? Unless I gave permission to put that line there (and believe you me I wouldn't do it unless I could have some compensation for baby-sitting it), it is trespassing on my property. You trespassed when you put it there. You dug a trench in my field. That's destruction of private property. Like I said at the beginning, it's a simple matter of ownership.

    More typically - When a railroad company, or anybody else, wants to run tracks, roads, pipes, etc across your property, they will bribe local, state, and federal authorities to use "emminent domain" to seize the land from you, claiming that their operation is acting in "the public interest". You may or may not be compensated with money that will come from the treasury, rather than the party that is trying to get your land.

    Parties that don't have the lawyers or cash to engage in the more common scenario may have to compensate you.

    If I accidentally dig up a cable or pipe on "my" property, more than likely I will be in trouble. I should have consulted with local and county authorities ($$$) and checked with all imaginable utility companies in order to make sure that I wouldn't be causing any problems for them. I could be held liable for the costs of repairs and be fined for such audacity.

    Property ownership has been greatly abstracted into mineral rights, water rights, drilling rights, right of way, etc. Property "ownership" really only "guarantees" an individual the "right" to dwell upon, perform minor construction, and possibly farm the property in question, subject to the tender mercies of zoning boards, property taxes, the EPA, etc.

    The concept of property ownership is a social convenience that is becoming terribly inconvenient.

  • If I give you permission to tear out a wall in my neighbor's house, who's to blame? Me, for telling you you could do it, or you for actually doing it? Besides, you should have had enough sense to ask my neighbor if it was OK with him before starting on it anyways.

    On the other hand, railways don't have nearly the cash that most telcos have...
  • What if the R.R. Co, and I am not suggesting they did, falsely represented that they HAD the rights to authorize the cable ?

    Well, in that case, you might have a case. Assuming that the telco suffered some sort of loss as the result of the misrepresentation, then once it was all said and done the telco would probably file a suit against the railroads and the telco's would probably have to prove that the railroads either:

    Willfully misrepresented their rights.
    Knowingly misrepresented their rights.
    And/or negligently (but perhaps unknowingly) misrepresented their rights.

    But then I'm not a lawyer. All I know is that the property owners probably don't have any recourse against the railroads, nor would they need any with telco fatcats around.
  • Hope you've got a few days...the fiber is buried in a conduit at least six feet deep. Above the dirt is a huge amount of rock laid so the railroad ties could be put down. Plus the added fact that the ground beneath those ties has been highly compressed due to trains running over it for the past several years.

    Apparently you are completely unfamiliar with this particular situation. They didn't lay the cables underneath the railroad tracks. To do so they would have had to tear out and rebuild the railroad tracks. They laid cable alongside the railroad tracks in the railroad right-of-way areas. These right-of-ways are usually 20-30 foot wide swaths of land with railroad tracks running down the middle.

    If you'll recall that was one of the biggest selling points of Qwest: they had negotiated with the railroads to use that space to lay conduit. Other companies were doing it too, but nobody did it to the extent that Qwest was doing it. In fact, in some areas Qwest used specially designed railway cars/vehicles that actually drove on the tracks and had a boom that extended to one side of the railway to lay the conduit. Actually, they were laying two sets of conduit at the time: one for fiber and another empty one so that they could (relatively) cheaply pull through additional fiber as bandwidth demand increased without having to dig or lay additional conduit.

    Hope you've got a good shovel!

    Hope you've finally gotten a clue!
  • That's a poor example because you've brough in a third party with little or no interest in the situation. In your example, the big landowner is the group of citizens, the little property owner is the railway and the telco, and the people running cables don't have a corresponding person. It's one thing to contract for someone to run wiring for you through a right-of-way. It's a different thing for running the wiring through teh right-of-way yourself. The telcos weren't laying the fiber lines on behalf of the railroads.
  • by hyrdra ( 260687 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @11:48AM (#190794) Homepage Journal
    Out of this whole sick, sick story of lawyers at their best, I especially like the following quote:

    "I think similar gains can be achieved by realizing that working together...works for everyone."

    You bet it does. With 25% of a telecommunications company created especially for this case and unnamed liquid assests, I'd sure think it would work for me and my deep pockets.

    First of all, the rights which are being referred to are called geological rights. These are the rights to mine the land. Most people own structure rights, which include the rights to attach structures to the land -- to build on it. The regular Joe Blow homeowner doesn't own the geological rights to his two story home, which also happens to have a basement underground.

    Geological rights were created to solve the problem of finding some rich resource on land which the seller didn't know was there. This way, people could still technically sell the land, but not the minerals (like gold, oil, etc.) which lay under the soil waiting to be discovered. These rights were originally bought from The State, along with the property, and cost extra. A geological survey is (I think) required and if you live in a state park or other natural reserve, or anywhere you cannot mine the land, the State still owns these rights. For this reason, most people didn't and don't buy so-called mineral rights when they build a home, etc.

    General rights to use the land include the right to build zone structures. Of course, you can dig into the ground and put whatever you want there. DIRT is free. As long as you own the property, you can license others to use it on any type of legal ability, transfer rights (sell), or give other forms of use. These all must be legal, however. You can't invent rights just to monopolize the land (e.g. air/land/ground rights are not legal).

    In this case, as far as I can see, the cable companies aren't doing anything wrong legally at all. They aren't mining the land unless you consider dirt a natural resource. They're placing cable a few feet down in the ground, also similar to the depth at which many rail road ties extend, incidentally..

    I'm not a lawyer and I don't claim to be, but I have purchased land before and worked with commercial real estate. I know there is no such thing as above and below ground restrictions. That's just plain silly. I imagine why any of this lawyer Ackerson's cases have never gone to trial is because they are some warped interpretation of mineral rights and trying to manipulate that into somehow being "ground" rights. This isn't so, it's just lawyers trying to fatten their pockets, delay and interfere with the progress of the Internet, and create new backdoor companies which they're quarter partners in.

    In the long run, I see broadband prices going up, property near railroad tracks being monopolized and as a result infrastructure deployment being delayed, and the people who actually did own the property getting screwed, taken for a ride by lawyers who can get whatever they can out of the next legal loophole.

  • by hubrisboy ( 267500 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2001 @10:26AM (#190796)
    Great!

    We have a few thousand drums of PCB-contaminated coolant from old electrical transformers. Can we bury them in your back yard?

    Since we won't have to pay expensive incineration fees, it'll help keep your energy costs down! We promise to topsoil and reseed over the pit when we're finished.

    Love,
    The Electric Company

    p.s.-
    We gave your address to our friends at the Infectious Medical Waste Disposal Company. They'll probably be in touch with you too. Hope you don't mind!


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • What happens if I'm a farmer and you laid the fiber in the ground across one of my fields. I go out one weekend and rebuild a few terraces in that field and end up digging up that piece of fiber.

    While I admire your spirit, and I certainly do think that the Telcos should pay something, what you just described probably wouldn't happen. These lines are being laid only a few inches below land that has already been allocated (and paid for) by the train companies. Nobody's running them across your fields, and unless you choose to trespass into the land that you've already leased to the railroads, there's really no chance that you're going to do damage to those lines.

    The idea of suing the telcos because they don't have 'drilling rights' is a bit squeaky. It's basically a way to amend a previous agreement to pump a little bit more money out of it. I certainly don't see any reason not to try it-- why should the Telcos have it? But I won't buy any argument that revolves around the fiber giving you any more trouble than the tons of metal laid above it. If the train companies had had some way of looking ahead, those agreements would have included provisions for running cable-- and the owners probably wouldn't have made a dime more than they do now.

  • From the article: "This way the cost is not a huge cash drain. It's based on how successful the (company) is," Ackerson said. "I think similar gains can be achieved by realizing that working together...works for everyone." - from the lawyer representing the class action lawsuits.

    While I don't particularly care for all large corp's, I care for most lawyers even less. Especially the class action suit ones. Sounds to me like he figured out a 'legitamite' business plan that wouldn't screw anyone over too much, but would still 'work for everyone'. It's called sue from the rich, to make me rich (or even richer)! The RIAA did it to Napster, and WOW! my life is so much better now that I can't preview songs from an artist at my leisure that I've heard on the radio before I go buy it at the store. And what now?! Now I can pay a big shot lawyer an extra $5 every month through my internet surcharges because he came up with a great way to extort money from all those telco 'fat cats'. Joy! Yep, that really 'works for me.'

  • We were amoung the first to move into a new neighborhood, so we have both a transformer and telecom boxes in our back yard. [makes stealing cable a breeze if one is so inclined] As the neighborhood has grown, our yard has been dug up many times. I have never liked this practice, but I understand that the cable company has some sort of contrect with the city, and the city has eminent domain [msn.com] .

    I've been seeing fiber lines going in as COX is performing it's rebuild, and I don't know if the lines will be extended into the box behind my home.

    I wonder, is it possible to steal internet access in the same way it is possible to steal cable service?

    All hypothetical, of course.

  • The railway companies had to go more than an inch deep to modify the land to make it suitable for their use. So just how deep do you have to dig to go from "surface rights" to "subsurface rights"? AFAIK laying fiber-optics would be considered a "surface rights" even if they put the lines 6 feet deep, but of course not all laws and case law is reasonable, so some shady bloodsuckers have figured out that they can leach some money from the systems, whether through borken case law, bad contractual wording, or through settlements that avoid having to go to court...
  • your right of way for a phat t3. sounds fair?
    ---

I have a very small mind and must live with it. -- E. Dijkstra

Working...