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The Internet United States News

Getting Broadband To The Bayou 274

Caseylite points out an article in USA Today "about the struggle between the city of Lafayette, Louisiana and BellSouth. The big telecom objects to the city installing its own fiber-optic network, claiming unfair competition. The city says its goal is bringing high-speed data access to low income areas to break the poverty cycle, stating a link between broadband access and education and employment."
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Getting Broadband To The Bayou

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  • Two sides (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SilverspurG ( 844751 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:37PM (#11329700) Homepage Journal
    On the one side is the innocent corporation which would never think to hold back service until the people are willing to pay through their teeth for it.

    On the other side is the innocent government which would never think to render everyone's communications legally monitorable.

    In the middle are all the people who don't know what the heck is going on but just want to amuse themselves on the network.
    • Re:Two sides (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DaveJay ( 133437 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @10:01PM (#11329951)
      >On the one side is the innocent corporation which would never think to hold back service until the people are willing to pay through their teeth for it.

      >On the other side is the innocent government which would never think to render everyone's communications legally monitorable.


      Well, that's it, then, isn't it. Those customers who can't afford (or don't want to pay for) the private broadband networks at least have a low-cost option for job hunting and education, and those customers who want privacy (and presumably a better experience) are willing to pay more for it. Nothing to see here.

      Oh, wait -- except that the corporation is not willing to compete under those conditions, and would rather charge more for no privacy and a poorer experience. Tsk.

      Seeing as how so many big business supporters argue that government can't do things like this profitably, shouldn't the big business here be smiling, confident that they'll be able to make a profit because the government's pipeline will be too expensive? I wonder why they're not smiling.

      Oh, wait -- if that whole "the government can't do it efficiently" thing is just a smokescreen for preserving monopolies, that would explain it. Hmm.
      • Re:Two sides (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ironsides ( 739422 )
        Let me know if the luisana state network customers have to pay the $10 or $15 broadband tax that the FCC charges private providers and then we can talk about unfair competition. Oh, and don't forget the local state taxes that the state and counties charge as well.

        This reminds me of Cokes reason for Fast Food resturuants to use them instead of Pepsi. If you buy pepsi you will be supporting your competitors (Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell). The resturants listened because it does make some sense. This is als
        • The broadband playing field is anything but level.

          The large telecom can undercut the small ISP at will and there is nothing the small ISP can do about it.
        • Minor aside.
          It's now KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers, and A&W(the resturaunts, not the soda IIRC).
          They used to be Tricon something, but YUM foods IIRC is the new corprate name (and ticker symbol iirc) for the 'spin off'. That's in quotes because Pepsi still owns a huge chunk (possibly over 50%) of the stock.
          Been a while so details are fuzzy, I no longer work for Yum, but did during the name change and aquisitions.

          Mycroft
      • Re:Two sides (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Phleg ( 523632 ) <stephen@@@touset...org> on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @11:17PM (#11330610)

        Seeing as how so many big business supporters argue that government can't do things like this profitably, shouldn't the big business here be smiling, confident that they'll be able to make a profit because the government's pipeline will be too expensive? I wonder why they're not smiling.

        Perhaps because no matter how inefficient or unprofitable government happens to be in these matters, it will never ever back out? After all, it can always increase taxes.

        Oh, wait -- if that whole "the government can't do it efficiently" thing is just a smokescreen for preserving monopolies, that would explain it. Hmm.

        Right. Because capitalists totally love monopolies even more than bacon. We think that it's totally in every consumer's interest for services to be provided by one inefficient overarching body. Oh wait, that's exactly what we're talking about here.

        • Re:Two sides (Score:4, Informative)

          by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @01:32AM (#11331592) Homepage
          Capitalists don't love monopolies. Monopolists love monopolies. The two aren't even close to being one and the same.

          Max
          • Depends totally on what you mean by 'capitalism'

            Here on /. there seem to be many definitions, they are:

            • The golden rule (those who have the gold make the rules) or
            • A completely free-market system, or
            • somewhere in-between.
            What is your definition?
        • Re:Two sides (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GOD_ALMIGHTY ( 17678 )
          This is infrastructure, not a regular market. We're also going to keep taking the garbage out and paving the roads, no matter how expensive it is. You can't have a modern society without it.

          Treating this like a market is a mistake. The economic growth by the markets that depend on the infrastructure more than compensate for any inefficiencies that come from regulation of infrastructure. I really doubt you could even get Hayek to say it would be a bad idea for the local government to provide this if Bell So
        • "...capitalists totally love monopolies even more than bacon..."

          mmmmmmmm....bacon
      • Re:Two sides (Score:2, Informative)

        by jejones ( 115979 )
        Seeing as how so many big business supporters argue that government can't do things like this profitably, shouldn't the big business here be smiling, confident that they'll be able to make a profit because the government's pipeline will be too expensive?

        Doesn't work that way. The government doesn't have to be efficient, because it can always vote itself more of your money rather than directly making the recipients of the service pay for its inefficiency. (Not that I have a whole lot of sympathy for compan
        • Re:Two sides (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SnowZero ( 92219 )
          Local governments are a lot more responsive to voters than the federal government, since the area represented is so much smaller. If they do a really bad job, the public will turn against it and stop it. As far as people, I don't see how anyone could have a problem with something some other city has decided they want. I don't know what the public their wants, but a trust them and their government to decide.

          If SBC really thought this would fail due to inefficiency, they could just wait for it to do so.
      • The problem for those cable businesses is that the government can forcibly tax people to lower their prices.
    • This sounds like Philadelphia [com.com] all over again.

      Now Intel is joining the fray [com.com]. Quoted verbatim:
      • In a speech at the Wireless Communications Association in San Jose, Calif., Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney is expected to encourage commercial service providers and public agencies such as city governments and municipalities to work together in building out new broadband infrastructure.

        Intel has a keen interest in the proliferation of wireless broadband technology and industries using it; by early
  • by jdhutchins ( 559010 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:38PM (#11329707)
    Not that it's bad to bring broadband to poor areas, but I don't think it will do much good. These areas already have school. They may not be great schools, but if you're not taking advantage of them, that's your fault. The link exists between broadband and education/income, but education causes income which causes broadband, not the other way around. Correlation never implies causation.
    • Not everyone has a natural desire/motivation/reason to learn. People in poor areas have the same mental capacity as any other group of people in the world. A simple spark may be all it takes to get a majority of people the desire to excel. That spark may not come from the internet and computers but that is what the attempt is for. When I was about 6 years old, I got a nice colorful 100-150 piece puzzle of the United States. Each state had the capital labeled and some generic overview of each state (Iow
    • 'but if you're not taking advantage of them (schools), that's your fault.'

      ahh yes, good old school. That's where I was taught to sit down and stand up by a bell, eat tater tots, and pledge allegiance. It's not that they aren't great schools; it's that they're horrible. Teachers teaching to the tests against their will, and being underpaid doesn't attract the best ones (that's not to say that there aren't some excellent teachers around if you're lucky enough to have one). The way our educational system is d
      • The way our educational system is designed is to focus on the few bright kids at the expense of the others.

        LMAO

        Sorry, but I'm in the field of gifted education. If you think those few bright kids are getting 5% of what they really need, you are sadly mistaken. I've heard several soon-to-be-teachers saying that in their student teaching, they were told by another teacher "Divide your class into three groups - kids who will pass the test, kids who won't, and kids who might. Ignore the first two groups, an

    • Public Libraries!

      Probably as cost effective as laying out broadband infrastructure, but more benefit to education.

      The Internet does have some benefits, but lets be honest: 26k over phone lines out in ruralsville has most of the advantage of broadband for education.

      I know, the old building-full-of-books isn't as sexy as fibre optic networks, but for a "step up", a good interlibrary loan system should be able to find you the reference manuals and guides to blue-collar certifications. Broadband prob

    • Correlation never implies causation.

      I think your point is good (and possibly true), but are you sure this last sentence is the right way to phrase what you mean?

      I think that correlation CAN imply causation. Often, correlation is the most obvious sign of causation. Of course, any responsible investigator would follow through by investigating the phenomena thoroughly in order to determine what the causal relationship actually is.

      What you REALLY meant was "Correlation doesn't prove causation", right? Th
    • Yeah, they should be bringing mercedes and BMWs to the low income areas of the city, because there is a link between income and education and expensive cars.

  • Unfair? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XsynackX ( 775111 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:38PM (#11329708)
    The only thing that is unfair about this is how companies like BellSouth are allowed to actually slow down processes that are helping people just so they can try to get a piece of the pie. I am sick and tired of companies trying to put their own profits before the greater good of society.
    • Re:Unfair? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hi, I am a corporation. I am a legal person under the law, but I have no conscience, no morals or ethics, I only care about profit for my shareholders.

      How may I help you today?

    • Welcome to Big Government sponsored by the Corporations and Republican Party. Being a liberal democrat I never thought I'd be able to say that, Regan must be turning over in his coffin. The only difference between the conservative big govt and the liberal big govt is the liberal big govt is providing for the people, the conservative is providing for big business (Note the word big). I'm a small business owner and I don't get subsidies. Maybe I need to look into grant writing.
    • The problem here is that we don't know if it'll help people.

      Don't ever make the mistake of thinking that government is less corrupt than industry. At least industry is required to turn a profit (somehow) to survive. Government can just raise taxes...and they can use taxes to create the impression that they're charging lower rates.

      What I'm worried about is that as a Cox customer, I'll still have to pay taxes to support LUS's fiber service. No doubt that their service is going to pwn, but this takes away fr
    • I am sick and tired of companies trying to put their own profits before the greater good of society.

      I sympathize with your motivation here... big companies ought to somehow act in ways that are good for society, or perhaps, they should never act against the greater good of society....

      but then...

      isn't putting profits before the greater good kind of the very definition of a company? companies do not exist without revenue. Instead of demanding they transform into the humble servants of society, I think at
    • before the greater good of society.

      The "greater good of society"? Exactly what is that and who gets to define it? You? Why not me?

      As always, 'greater good' arguments are nothing more than a smokescreen for saying 'you should all do what I tell you to do, because I say so'.

      Max
  • Fantastic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tuxter ( 809927 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:38PM (#11329711) Journal
    It's proactive stuff like this from local government that is going to enable everyone to have high speed data/comms/AV content to their homes. Fuck the telco's.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:42PM (#11329759)
    Unfair competition they say? Yeah, how about their continual attempts throughout history to insure a monopoly position on what communications get to our homes. Fiber optics laid by cities looks like the solution to these problems. Oregon lead the way. It is time we all petition our local governments so we can have cable/internet/phone/utility monitors/etc to our homes for less than $50 month (all together).
    • Unfair competition they say? Yeah, how about their continual attempts throughout history to insure a monopoly position on what communications get to our homes.

      I couldn't tell who you were talking: BellSouth, or the United States Federal Government. Both seem to fit the description.

  • hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DustyShadow ( 691635 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:43PM (#11329780) Homepage
    Since when do corporations have any say what a city can do with its land?
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:48PM (#11329832)
      I live in Lafayette, where this is occuring. The problem isn't that the companies have direct control over what goes on in creating the network, but they do have the ability to run commericals nonstop badmouthing the city's plans. Bellsouth is partnering with Cox Communications, which is the city's cable provider. So, as you can imagine, running advertisements saying that the city's plans are bad doesn't cost them very much.
      • by bani ( 467531 )
        you need to make it cost cox and bellsouth. politically.

        teach them a lesson they will never forget.
        • You mean, like...

          "The city council is entertaining a motion to put the franchise agreements with Cox Cable and BellSouth up for bid"?
          • by bani ( 467531 )
            works for me.

            or

            "the city council rejected cox cable and bellsouth's franchise renewal applications".
      • I remember in Tacoma TCI / AT&T took out full page adverts in the newspaper and lots of airtime from a group that claimed to be "Citizens for Fair Cable". This was back 1997 or so. The CFFC claimed that a monopoly was good because if there was competition they would have to lower prices resulting in a negative impact on quality of service. Quality of service was piss poor anyway in the TCI territory due to their low grade cable and major leakage to the point that you could pirate the service somewhat
      • Lafayette should have Credence Clearwater Revival do a benefit concert for the disenfranchised and call it "Broadband On The Bayou." Just think, it'd be like,

        I wish I was back on the broadband,
        browsing with some Cajun queen,
        mfmmphm..(garbled lyrics because I can't remember the original version)...mffmum bbhmm,

        broadband on the bayou!
        broadband on the bayou!

        That would rock.

  • Unfair, my ass. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Staplerh ( 806722 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:47PM (#11329821) Homepage
    A telecommunications giant is fighting the city, because it is providing services. Well, that's what this is. A service, and it will benefit society. Besides, its not like Bellsouth doesn't have their own little little nest. From TFA:

    BellSouth says it can't compete effectively with cities where taxpayers pay for laying down expensive fiber-optic networks. . . Perhaps, but Lafayette is building because BellSouth and the city's cable TV company aren't rushing to meet the city's needs.

    There you go: evidence that capitalism isn't meeting the needs of people, and the state is stepping in. Adam Smith and economic libertarians would have those people simply sitting around, waiting for the invisible hand to bring them their broadband. Nope, the city is intervening, the corporation is retaliating.. and the city should win.

    Of course, Bellsouth could probably just win everything by stepping into the area and providing service (probably with an initial loss, but they'd recoup their costs) - heck, get a juicy government subsidy and some nice photo-ops. I'm sure this USA Today article will turn some heads, especially if it gets reported in a more reputable newspaper.
    • Re:Unfair, my ass. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phleg ( 523632 )

      There you go: evidence that capitalism isn't meeting the needs of people, and the state is stepping in. Adam Smith and economic libertarians would have those people simply sitting around, waiting for the invisible hand to bring them their broadband. Nope, the city is intervening, the corporation is retaliating.. and the city should win.

      Way to go with the straw man there. Most fiscal libertarians would say that it's simply not worth the cost of laying telecommunications cable to those areas. If the net ga

      • This indicates to me at least that there will be a net loss on this whole endeavor, and thus it is a waste of funds to do it.

        It may well turn out to be a net loss, but that doesn't mean it's a waste of funds. Just because something's not profitable doesn't mean it's not worth doing.

    • Re:Unfair, my ass. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by magarity ( 164372 )
      There you go: evidence that capitalism isn't meeting the needs of people, and the state is stepping in.

      Not at all; This is a case of government being run as a business. Granted, it's a business where some of the customers pay more than others and some of the customers probably didn't want to be customers. Rather than a failure of capitalism, it shows that a state sanctioned near-monopoly (ie: the Telco) in other words, communism, can't supply what competition can.

      Ironically, the company in this case
  • South Korea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mboverload ( 657893 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:48PM (#11329833) Journal
    It is because of this kind of crap we don't have 15 megabit pipes for 30 bucks a month like South Korea does.

    I am TIRED of being behind Asian countries. Are we not *supposed* to be the most advanced country on earth. I don't think so. We are a rusty country, full of aging infrastructure, telecommunications monopolies (they are still monopolies even if it's not on paper), and a bureaucratic system that has been bought by Big Tele. We have lost our edge. The early American inventors are turning in their graves. We used to be the envy of earth with our mightly technology, now we are all but a joke to the Japanesse technocratic elite.

    • I am TIRED of being behind Asian countries. Are we not *supposed* to be the most advanced country on earth.

      Not any more. Get used to it. This is the era of the decline and fall of the American empire. My recommendation to my kids is to learn Mandarin.

      Just this afternoon, I looked at a completely ordinary photo in this month's IEEE Spectrum magazine about some new chip fab polishing method, which showed five engineers from Applied Materials responsible for it. Four of them were Asian. It's an American co

    • Not (just) crap like this. The US is orders of magnitude larger and less dense than South Korea.

      This argument comes up every time someone mentions broadband in any context at all. Look up some previous stories.
      • I understand the arguments of America having less population density then South Korea, however I still don't see how this stops fibre from being deployed in the dense areas such as capitol cities, there is a large population density in those areas so why aren't they deploying there?
        • Charlotte, NC's traffic is bad enough thanks to poorly planned roads that didn't take urban growth into account. Tearing up streets to put down fibre would make things about a million times worse.

          And charlotte is a SMALL city comapred to the likes of Boston, NYC, New Orleans and so on.
          • That is the same situation here in NYC. When I first herd of FIOS from Verizon I knew it would never be deployed anywhere near me. Why? Because it's a highly dense city and laying fiber isn't cheap. Plus the higher population density the more disruption construction would cause. Also I remember the first broadband deployed in the area was DSL by then Bell Atlantic. And it always seems to be deployed from north to south. So I was last on the list because I am pretty far south. Cable from Time Warner didn't c
    • The reason we are so behind is because of all of the regulations which we have put into place. A great example of just how badly regulated we have become is the earthquake which happened in California some years back.

      The story goes like this: After the earthquakes subsided California was left with expressways which were ruined. Pancaked one on top of the other. Worked started, stopped, and then started again at a snail's pace. Everyone was being frustrated by all of the rules and regulations put into
      • Why on earth (well in the US at least) is a congress-critters 'rep' in large bassed on how many laws and bills thier responsible for?
        If it was an inverse relationship of some sort (good greif he got 18 laws passed and tried another 12, let's get rid of him!) it would make sense.
        But as it is the more laws/bills a senator or representative has on his/her resume, the higher thier lauded.
        I suggest we look more towards electing those that get laws repealed. And no matter which way we look at it look
  • by MLopat ( 848735 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:49PM (#11329846) Homepage
    So the Telco wants to call in regulators to allow them to rollout their highspeed network, meanwhile Cox, an existing provider there, has raised the price for high-speed access 4 times already. They need regulations on the price, not the service providers.

    And as for the comments on whether internet access will help the poor areas of America, in this case the University of Lousiana is in their backyard. So broadband access is a must if they hope to draw businesses that will do research associated with the University.
  • by neilb78 ( 557698 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:51PM (#11329855)
    Our city installed it's own fiber network... guess who our local teloc is? BellSouth.

    We now have nice, cheap, cable modem (and TV)service ($35/mo = 512k/1.5M); and ip phone service is coming soon.
  • Screwed Up. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Michael Hunt ( 585391 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:56PM (#11329900) Homepage
    Government intervention in capitalism should have one focus only: to address and correct 'Market Failure.'

    This is obviously what's happening here; there's a market, it's not being serviced, and the City is stepping in.

    For an incumbent telecoms monopoly who had no interest in servicing this area a priori (otherwise the City would not have had to DIY) to cry 'unfair competition' is idiotic. Since when has the Government had a natural advantage in the telecommunications space? It's hardly their core business.

    From another standpoint, a Government performing a task is no different than the citizens who elected said government performing the same task themselves. The Government is merely acting on behalf of those who elected it.

    The ILEC in question here should back the fuck off gracefully before something really horrible happens. Messing with Governments isn't smart, especially when said Governments are trying to score poltical points by doing this 'for the poor'.

    • Government has a monopoly -- on taking your money under threat of gunpoint and giving it to someone else -- without fear of legal retribution.

      If the government had granted the ability to have compulsory fees for everyone, even those who don't use the broadband provided, in order to pay for the others... would you be OK with this? Do you hold government in that much higher of an esteem than you hold corporations?
      • by bani ( 467531 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @10:30PM (#11330218)
        this is a city utility service, it's funded through use, nobody is forcing anyone to subscribe to broadband. the utility will be funded through access fees.

        other city networks operate exactly this way -- funded through access fees, not public taxation.
        • Although that is a nice theory, I rather doubt it will be the reality.

          The town I live in bought a hotel, which it later sold. The theory was that it was needed to support the convention center. Pay for itself, good investment, blah blah blah.

          The reality is that money was taken out of the general fund to pay for it, and then the police and fire departments went begging. Literally. This last election, a sales tax increase was put through to fund the police and fire departments. Of course, no-one asked why t

          • that _is_ the reality, in all the existing public networks being operated. they are supported by the subscription fees. no taxes. no having to question whether it "will" be something or not -- it is here and now and it is not supported by taxes. not maybe. not possibly. but categorically, absolutely not.

            and your analogy fails because a hotel is not a public utility.
      • If the government had granted the ability to have compulsory fees for everyone, even those who don't use the broadband provided, in order to pay for the others... would you be OK with this?

        Er, that's the basic concept of taxation. Otherwise why wouldn't everyone just pay at the point? What use is a government that doesn't do that?

        Do you hold government in that much higher of an esteem than you hold corporations?

        They're the same: a small number of people wielding power in order to increase their own pers

      • How, exactly, are these cities in Louisiana to take a gun to one BellSouth and "arrest" it?

        They can't. The city can certainly do it to you, one way or another (funny, your car gets a parking ticket even when parked in a non-metered space to "Son, did you know your brake light is *smash* broken?"

        Again, it comes down to the ILECs should be forced to choose: are we service providers, or are we infrastructure providers.

        What will things be like when SBC and Qwest own 95% of the ILEC business in the US?

        Now, I
    • No, the real problem is that the government has granted the telcom monopoly power in the first place. The very fact that monopoly exists is the evil here, not the effect of that monopoly.

      We do all know that monopolies in telecommunications are granted in return for cash, don't we? That's how you get your cable and it's still how you get your non-mobile phone service, pr to the contrary notwithstanding. Cities or counties grant monopoly status to the provider they think will best suit the needs of the lo
  • by alan_d_post ( 120619 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:57PM (#11329912) Homepage
    Also, city water systems are unfair competition for bottled water companies!
  • Oh the Irony (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:57PM (#11329913) Journal
    The worst part about the Telco situation is that they said they would deploy fiber optics door-to-door and then ADDED ON EXTRA FEES so that they could "afford" it

    How The Bells Stole America's Digital Future: Part I [netaction.org]

    And I'm just going to give a token mention to the miles and miles of unlit (dark) fiber lying around unused because it's "owned" by the phone company. And by owned I mean the state practically gave it to them through tax breaks.

  • politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:58PM (#11329919) Journal
    "...stating a link between broadband access and education and employment."

    There may be a link; but once again, correlation != causation.

    Some politician probably hatched the idea to give himself some kind of boost, whether power or money or whatever. It's one in a series of technological red herrings, back-room deals, and stupidities that politicians here have started. Don't [slashdot.org] believe [slashdot.org] me [slashdot.org] ? [slashdot.org]
  • When I was at UL, the Lafayette Consolidated Government came and spoke to us a lot in my telecom classes... they want to use the fiber loop they have to provide data, voice, and video (i.e. cable)... but what they're gonna end up doing is running up the city's debt while a lot of the city already gets many or all three of those services from Cox cable without being locked into contracts. As their budget continues to increase it's looking like they'd have to provide the services at a loss to attract custome
    • The fiber loop is _already_ a debt, and a long standing one. It was initially laid over 5 year ago, and has sat unlit since then because the city has been patiently waiting for BellSouth, Cox, or anyone else for that matter to step up and utilize it.

      LUS never intended to actually run the thing themselves, the plan was always to have the telcos lease bandwidth from the city. That would still be the plan except the telcos decided that it was more cost effective for them to simply keep using their existing an
  • by bADlOGIN ( 133391 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @09:59PM (#11329926) Homepage
    They've obviously never even been on Slashdot if they think broadband access is linked to education and employment.
  • I've found that poor areas are also lacking in Rolls Royce automobiles. I think that this correlation must be the cause. If we were to increase the number of luxury automobiles in the poorer parts of town, it would stimulate jobs and education.
  • People act suprised. Monopoly corporation fires lawsuits to stop competition (aka attempts to protect it's income stream). People again act suprised. Why? The only legal reason that corporations exist is to make as much money as possible. Since they forgot to append "within moral reason" to that, you end up with entities that meet the definition of a psychopath.

    Add to that the fact that the fact that we give them the standing of a person in the eyes of the law (ie the right to sue) and the fact that Congress has no term limits (ie let's game the system), and you'll get an idea what's wrong.

    If you want a bitingly cynical look at the problems America is currently facing, go buy "America, the book" by Jon Stewart. Believe me, it is SO worth $20 for the hardback version.

    Well, off to watch Battlestar Galactica...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @10:24PM (#11330161)
    Why can't the city just lay a dozen lines instead of one, and then auction off access to companies? Then the companies are free to market their service packages to the homeowners.

    This gets around the bullshit of unfair competition and actually creates real competition.

    Ensure each fiber line is capable of 100 mb or more up and down, build into the bidding process requirements of no blocked ports for internet service, no prohibitions on running servers, and businesses as well as individuals of all types are on equal footing as to access.

    A dozen lines would cover the local telephone monopoly, the local cable monopoly, the local power company monopoly, the local water company monopoly, any other traditional (long distance/AT&T) monopoly, and will have lines left over for competitive bidding by independent internet service providers, the small guys.

    The power company gets to read their meters remotely if lines are left over and cheap enough verses sending out a meter reader, the water company can bid for their own line for water meter reading or piggyback on the power company line, the cable company no longer has to maintain their own copper and can sell phone, video, and whatever else they want, the local phone company loses their monopoly and tax breaks on investment and all the other sweets they normally bribe legislators for, and either they compete, or they risk other areas looking at the city as a learning lesson and the idea spreads.

    Laying a dozen lines of fiber is hardly more expensive than laying one line due to the majority of the cost being in the labor in digging up the ground or installing poles and all the related charges.

    The city running their own fiber? My city can't even get water bills right, can't answer the phone, can't fix a manhole that makes noise for the last ten years, can't fix catch basins that overflow when it lightly rains for closer to 20 years, can't follow their own zoning laws (unless the builder bribes them and then everything is ok), can't plow snow on some streets a week after a snowfall, can't, can't, can't...

    Am I really going to trust my city to not snoop on my internet and voip packets after I complain to the city or sue them in court?

    Am I going to trust my city to not snoop on my internet and voip packets when my city is represented by about 90% of one party, and they call me up on election day to make sure I go vote for them? Am I going to trust them to not snoop on my internet and voip packets if I was registered in a different political party for the previous ten or twenty years prior to them installing voip?

    Am I going to trust them to not snoop on my internet and voip packets when I call up to report a problem, and the phone rings twenty times and then I hear the phone receiver picked up, fumbled, then hung up again, to hear the line go dead? And when I call again, I hear the same thing, only laughter in the background as it is happening? And when I report what happened to a complaint line?

    The city should lay the fiber lines, multiple lines, then auction access to them. Use the auction money to pay off the laying of the lines. And if that doesn't cover the total cost, consider it an investment in the future of the city, and an increase in the competitive attraction to businesses and individuals due to far superior internet access as compared to other cities, nearly every other city in the US.
  • I currently live in Lafayette and it's a great town and the poverty is not nearly what SEEMS to be implied here.
    The local Library has plenty of computers available to anyone who wants free internet access rendering the argument above null. The people the article and the city talks about would be better served using the Library's facilities to find a job first, then purchasing a PC followed by Cox or Bellsouth's 128k up /128k down internet connections.
    What the article misses completely is the fact that Cox


  • Look around at what is happening in other western countries. Most other countries are ahead of us in many ways, mainly because America is and always has been in many ways operated for the benefit of the investor, as opposed to being operated for the benefit of the citizen.

    You see it everywhere: telco, telecommunications, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, mass transportation, television, radio. Anytime there is a decision to be made, it always seem to be made so as to force Americans to spend more, and that me
  • Is this necessary? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Tuesday January 11, 2005 @10:41PM (#11330304)
    The city says its goal is bringing high-speed data access to low income areas to break the poverty cycle, stating a link between broadband access and education and employment.

    I don't have any problem with cities putting in a public network, if the voters think it makes sense. But do we need to break out the golden shovel here? The correlation between net access and income/education is there because people with higher incomes don't have to choose between new shoes for the kids and internet service. I'll bet you can also find a correlation between internet use and expensive cars, clothes, and Tivo. As many have pointed out on /. before, correlation != causation. Let's face it, the internet today is used mostly to stream porn.

    In fact, the research suggests a pretty strong negative correlation between internet use in the schools and basic (reading, writing, and math) skills. Your kids are better off cracking a book and leaving the computer off until they need to write term papers. Cliff Stoll wrote a pretty good book [amazon.com] on this subject.

    But I guess you don't have to make logical arguments for anything as long as you add "think of the children" to your proposals.

  • by hedley ( 8715 )
    I just got back from Kyoto Japan where 100Mbit fibre
    to the home is deployed and availble to Joe consumer.

    Sure probably only in certain areas but they have it now and I would imagine you improve coverage from there.

    How many in the US here are stuck with 1-3mps? (considered very good here for home).

    100mbit to the home and you need never rent or buy any entertainment media again. All could be streamed for a modest fee and copyright holders would be happy.

    Hedley
  • .
    Where in federal laws does it say that life has to be perfectly fair? To individuals or corporations? On what LEGAL grounds is crap like this brought to court?

    The federal and state and city goverments do LOTS of things that "aren't fair" because it's good for the people (as a whole), and the judgement of what's best for all is up to the governmental body that was elected by the people.

    Town/City Fire Departments
    Police Departments/Organizations
    The Military
    Roads

    ...and in other countries or here and there


    • electrical grids
      electrical power generation

      Yes, some of these do make sense to allow corporations or individuals to operate


      This is a great example. In the California electricity deregulation mess, cities with their own power companies were given the option of keeping their own generation systems for some time (a couple years?) longer than the private companies.

      Pasadena (where I was at the time) and Los Angeles are among those that wisely chose to wait. The rates remained reasonable that summer in Pa
  • by e2ka ( 708498 )
    Who is more efficient at implementing and running a network? A telcom or the Layfayette Government?

    The government isn't providing this service for free. Will it be fair to pay more, in a hidden way, for an inefficient service when the time comes? Fair because it comes from the benevolent government?

    If this goes through, pay close attention to the books. $100 hammers aren't for the military only.
  • What I find interesting about this story is that the current storyline in the online Kevin & Kell comic strip is talking about almost the same subject.
  • Ouch! What ever happened to balanced reporting? That story is awash with editorializing.

    I happen to generally agree with the editorializing in this case, but it severely erodes my trust in the paper's ethics.

    Oh, wait, it is USA Today - the newspaper for those who lack the time for the greater in-depth news coverage of television. I guess I don't have any trust left to erode.
  • The city has power here, if they use it. Tell SBC in no uncertain terms that either high speed fiber is roller out to every home for and affordable price, or they loose rights to have their wire in the ground. The city can easily form a co-op to do phone service, and is likely to get better service if they do so.

    Note that this is assuming the city is really running the numbers right. I've seen many cases where a city has installed something at great expense because it would pay for itself in the long r

  • by vijayiyer ( 728590 ) on Wednesday January 12, 2005 @01:57AM (#11331755)
    Broadband isn't going to break the cycle of poverty. Education is. Sounds like a waste of taxpayer money to me.

The solution of problems is the most characteristic and peculiar sort of voluntary thinking. -- William James

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