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Wireless Networking Hardware

Municipal Wi-Fi Battle Moves to Texas 305

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

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  • PDF of the Bill (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @04:29AM (#11721236) Journal
    Before you jump to conclusions why not try reading [] it first?
    • Re:PDF of the Bill (Score:4, Interesting)

      by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @04:34AM (#11721257) Journal
      I hate to reply to my self but in that entire 332 page PDF the word "wireless" is mentioned exactly . . . 4 times . . yes a Whopping Four Times!
      • Re:PDF of the Bill (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @08:56AM (#11721833)
        that entire 332 page PDF the word "wireless" is mentioned exactly . . . 4 times . . yes a Whopping Four Times!

        And just how many times does a word have to be mentioned in a bill before it becomes meaningful? Actually the bill appears to ban municipalities from offering network services of any kind, including wireless.

        You are obviously very familiar with the bill, and it's hard not to conlcude that you have an interest in misleading people about what it will do. Do you?

    • by Nebu ( 566313 ) <> on Saturday February 19, 2005 @04:42AM (#11721276) Homepage
      If I didn't read TFA, what makes you think I'm gonna read some governmental bill?
    • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @04:47AM (#11721291) Homepage Journal
      The relevant section is 54.202, on page 87 of the pdf:
      A municipality or munincipally owned utility may not, directly or indirectly, on its own or with another entity, offer to the public:
      1. A service for which a certificate is required;
      2. A service as a network provider; or
      3. Any telecomunications or network service, without regard to the technology platform used to provide the service.
      • by Bent Mind ( 853241 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @07:43AM (#11721643)
        Umm, wouldn't this ban Internet in public schools? Or are schools state owned and not run by a municipality?
        • by mattspammail ( 828219 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @08:35AM (#11721770)
          Tough one to give a straight answer on. Most of the school districts in Texas are independently operated. There are dozens in the Houston area alone. There also exist other types of school districts. One in the area is a municipal school district (Stafford, near Houston). The overseers, or school board, members in an independent school district are voted in. They are not run by a municipality. However in the case of Stafford MSD, the policy makers of the school district are, in fact, the local government. It's not the norm, but it will definitely need to be addressed before a law like this is passed. They'll need a small print area.
      • I wonder what effect this will have on municipally owned cable tv.

        My sister gets her cable tv and internet service from a municiapply owned entity.
      • Another related issue comes to mind. It's not unusual for small towns to allow wireless providers to mount antennas on city own facilities such as water towers. This would seem to require them to find other places to mount their equipment antennas. In my town, there are two wireless providers. I work for one. The other doesn't have a local office. So their network lines (T-1, ATM, ... whatever they have) terminate at the city hall. From there, they have a radio uplink to the water tower. From the wa
    • Before you jump to conclusions why not try reading it first?

      Because that isn't as fun.

      -Colin []
    • Re:PDF of the Bill (Score:5, Insightful)

      by judonym ( 527809 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @05:47AM (#11721407)
      It does seem to ban municipalities from offering any kind of telecommunication or network services.

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

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

    • I suspect you didn't read it first.

      If you had, someone else would have beaten you to the first post.
  • Just plain insane. Completely banning municipalities from communications? What about police CBs? What about 911 dispatch? And for what purpose? To keep towns from competing with for-profit Wi-Fi? Bogus.
    • If you had read the relevant section of the actual bill, you would see that it prohibits municipalities from offering service to the public. Police and 911 services are not telecom services that are offered to the public.
      • 911 sure as shit IS a telecom service offered to the public.
        • Re:Insane. (Score:5, Informative)

          by cmarkn ( 31706 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @07:00AM (#11721533)
          No, it is not. Fire, ambulance and police are services similar to 911, but none of them is a telecommunications service. Since you clearly haven't looked at the bill, here's the relevant part:

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

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

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

          Notice item (E) in the list. A telecom provider provides access to 911 service, among several other things. Notice the word "and" before item (H). It is important. A telecom provider connects you to 911, but 911 is not a telecom provider any more than a firetruck is.
  • With the current business climate being mostly in favor or monopolies and such, moves like this are hardly surprising.
  • by no parity ( 448151 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @04:34AM (#11721254)
    Throughout Europe, telephone service used to be state-run. All of them have noticed how bad this system was and some are still in the progress of moving away from it.

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

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

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

        The problem is that it is still a private monopoly and the goverment still has majority controll (owns 51% of it I think) so they in their good memory let it f*ck around with customers and other private run shops with it's good memory. Especially in the xDSL inter
    • by tetromino ( 807969 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @05:09AM (#11721339)
      Throughout Europe, telephone service used to be state-run. All of them have noticed how bad this system was and some are still in the progress of moving away from it.

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

      Europe's experience shows that unless it's implemented very carefully, a government telecom might fuck up royally.
      • Fuck up royally? That's funny, our commercialised monopolist in the Netherlands is called KPN [], which stands/stood for Koninklijke PTT Nederland. Translation: ROYAL PTT Netherlands. They still control the telephone (landline) infrastructure for which you will have to pay 10 euro's a month regardless of your ISP or telephone provider.
    • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @05:42AM (#11721401) Journal
      In Hull, England, the telephone service was run by the local Authority. They had free local calls since 1904, broadband ADSL before anyone else had heard of it, and they've had ADSL based TV for several years now.

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

        You and the parent post both miss the point. It's not about how effective or crappy a state-run service is. This has to do with unfair competition. A municipality offering telecoms services can (and often will) bar any competitors from the market, by subsidising the service out of the public coffers and undercutting fair market rates, or by throwing so many obstacles in the path of c

        • Or it could be that no company will touch it, because it doesn't offer immediate 15% returns. So people become so disgusted, they vote to have the government do it, and once the barrier to entry is lowered (tax dollars paid for this), they bitch and scream that they're being unfairly locked out of a business that just years before they wanted nothing to do with. We are talking local government, either vote against it, or move somewhere where they don't tax you for wifi. Only libertarians would want it to be
          • Only libertarians would want it to be illegal for citizens to have a chance to vote on whether they wanted municipally funded wifi...
            Bingo, seems you guessed my political conviction... If citizens want Wifi so badly, let them start their own little Wifi company. Or, if they vote the city to do it, companies should at least be allowed to compete on an even footing.
    • That's because land-line telcos tends towards monopoly no matter where they are, because of the high costs of entry into the market. In America, AT&T was a non-state monopoly for a long time, and service sucked before the U.S. DOJ broke them up.

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

      I doubt community wireless would have the same problems, because
    • What is the relevance of your claim to this bill? Let's say that some town like Austin wanted to set up wireless access points in public areas popular with tourists and business travelers. That would be a tremendous service to the public and would make tourists and business travelers very pleased and make them want to come back to Austin. However, that would be forbidden by this bill. Explain to me what your generalities about state-run telcos has to do with whether Austin should be able to provide a us
    • by mvdwege ( 243851 ) <> on Saturday February 19, 2005 @08:14AM (#11721709) Homepage Journal

      Speaking as someone who lived through the transition from state-owned telco to private-owned telco, I can tell you one thing: you are talking out of your rear end.

      After privatisation, the costs have gone up, the service has detoriated, and any kind of competition that even tries to arise is ruthlessly squashed.

      The only ones who profited are the shareholders and the telco management. Give me a state-owned infrastructure over a rapacious bunch of MBAs anytime. I'd much prefer a communally-owned system, but for some reason the Powers That Be seem to want to squash that at all costs, no matter if the PTB are The Government or The Corporation, so I'll have to settle for the lesser of two evils for the moment.

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

      If this is true, it still doesn't legitimize banning government from participating... it simply warrants caution and should be taken as encouragement by prospective non-governmental competitors.

  • by SteelV ( 839704 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @04:40AM (#11721272)
    The United States government already manages many public works. The United States Postal Service (although it isn't completely run by the government, it is largely funded by the government and thus, in my opinion, under government control), as well as many public works. What's different about this public offering? It can be argued that it is a necessary service in our modern age in order to communicate/do business (similar to the USPS). I think the government will probably just mess it up, like it does most things, but maybe give it a shot. Widespread, tax-payer funded Wi-Fi being funded by our tax dollars will hopefully just save it from being squandered elsewhere... but they'll probably just charge us more... sigh!
    • If I'm not mistaken, the postal service has not received public funding since 1982.

    • by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @05:10AM (#11721342) Homepage
      "The United States Postal Service (although it isn't completely run by the government, it is largely funded by the government and thus, in my opinion, under government control)"

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

      On the other hand, congress still sets rules and regulations that USPS has to follow, so even though your details are wrong, your point is correct.
    • Your characterization of the Postal Service is incorrect. The Postal Service is completely run by the government. All of its employees are government employees and all of its operations are self funded. Structurally, its set up as a separate government corporation which gives it a measure of autonomy, but the USPS is still answerable to Congress.
    • it is largely funded by the government

      No it is not. The USPS has not received a dime from the government for decades. In fact, it used to get reimbursed for the cheap rates it offers to non-profits; now it doesn't even get that. On top of this, it can't raise rates at will (rate changes have to be reviewed by the Postal Rate Commission), and it is mandated to serve each and every address.

      For $0.37, you can send a letter from Maine to Guam. Compare these rates with those in Europe, for instance; or even

  • I don't really see a problem with a municipality creating/maintaining the base architecture and having other companies provide service on top of that. That was, it is certain that the access will be there even if it would be commercially unattractive or risky to do so for companies.
  • by windowpain ( 211052 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @04:50AM (#11721304) Journal
    I like the idea of wi-fi everywhere. I have no great love for or trust in telecom and cable companies.

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

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

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

    It's expensive and everybody I know has a filter on their kitchen faucets or under their sinks.
    • Look, America is supposed to be about choice. So one town tries to roll out wireless -- if they screw it up then that will discourage other towns not to, if they don't screw it up. Either way its not the end of the world.

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

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

      Dude... maybe that's 'cause you live in New Jersey?
    • by quarkscat ( 697644 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @06:48AM (#11721515)
      One thing about the neo-cons, multinational corporations, and megopolists that run this country - they don't want the government to interfere with their "business plans", but are damn quick to seek a government handout in the form of tax credits, specially created tax loopholes, or outright grants & subsidies to their

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

      That being said, Dubya and his neo-cons, as well as the WTO and World Bank, have used other countries debt service as a means of forcing the
      opening of their public utilities to foreign/multinational corporate competition. The provision of clean potable water has become a new "profit center" for the World Bank's corporate allies. Invariably, the quality of service has gone down, municipal workers layed off, and the
      price of clean water has gone through the roof.
      Some services, such as potable water, should be deemed too important a "human right" to turn over to a foreign multinational corporation for profit.
    • I buy my electricity from my town. I buy my gas from my town. I buy my water from my town. I buy my sewer service from my town. I buy my phone service from my town. The prices and service are great. My water is delicious.
    • But the question isn't do you think YOUR town should have WiFi service, the question is should the state remove the possibility of any town or government entity to supply network access? Why does the state think they need to trump local governments?

      Personally I don't think most cities should get in the business of supplying wide-scale internet access. Maybe in some places it'd work, but in general I don't think it would. Small scale Wi-Fi internet access, at say an Airport, library, town-hall, etc makes
      • Lead leaching from your plumbing is apparently very unlikely, unless your pipes are lead. The small amount of lead solder that used to be used in copper plumbing scales over in a few years, and lead doesn't escape into your water.

        The public drinking water in the US is almost always perfectly safe to drink right out of the tap.

        The only reason for filtering is taste. As far as I'm concerned, the chlorine is doing a wonderful job of keeping the water bacteria free on the way to me. I'd just rather not tas
  • by cowboy76Spain ( 815442 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @05:00AM (#11721321)
    I do not understand how people can be so cinnic. They do believe municipal WiFi is free? If the city town spends money on it, then it will have to recover them from somewhere else (maybe raising the taxes to all the population, maybe giving less funding to an area that may be more important, or maybe by charging the users -as any company-). It can't just assume its costs and get in red for that.

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

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

      The definition of 'free' is debatable, though. The library provides lots of free books, but they're paid for by the taxpayer. In common usage, something is 'free' if there is no per-use charge for it.
    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @06:20AM (#11721460) Journal
      They do believe municipal WiFi is free? If the city town spends money on it, then it will have to recover them from somewhere else

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

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

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

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

      There were in this country two very large monopolies. The larger of the two had the following record: the Vietnam War, Watergate, double- digit inflation, fuel and energy shortages, bankrupt airlines, and the 8-cent postcard. The second was responsible for such things as the transistor, the solar cell, lasers, synthetic crystals, high fidelity stereo recording, sound motion pictures, radio astronomy, negative feedback, magnetic tape, magnetic "bubbles", electronic switching systems, microwave radio and TV relay systems, information theory, the first electrical digital computer, and the first communications satellite. Guess which one got to tell the other how to run the telephone business?
      • I agree with you about the municipal network.. with data being about as necessary as water for businesses, especialy in my town (minneapolis, mn) which was just rated "#1 tech city"

        your quote about the governement and The Bell System is funny, but unfortunately breaking up Ma Bell was probably one of the better moves.
    • It's far more cost-effective than everyone having their own separate connection though. So it's something that makes sense for the city to run. Like municipal garbage collection, or anything else the city does. It will benefit everyone, some more than others but that's true of everything, and the benefits will be more than the costs, so the city should do it.
    • by ortcutt ( 711694 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @07:29AM (#11721611)
      What if a city wants to put up 5 or 6 wireless access points in areas that are frequented by tourists and business travelers? Let's say that they could do it for a few thousand dollars a year. That may be worth it if it makes the city more attractive to visitors. Those visitors spend money and pay hotel taxes. The city is happy and the visitors are happy. But, this bill would prohibit the city from doing this, even though municipal wireless system like this makes a lot of sense. I just think that you haven't considered just how broad this bill is. It bans a city from providing network services. Period. There are some ideas for municipal wireless systems which are probably not good ideas. But why can't they let the municipalities make those decisions?
    • You're talking about the wrong issue. Maybe a community should support municipal wireless, maybe they shouldn't. It all depends on what % of people would be interested in such a thing--it's surely far cheaper for the town to provide such access than it is for every individual in the town to buy it themselves, but parts of Texas are probably sparsely populated enough that WiFi would be of no use at all. In my communitiy in suburban Pennsylvania, I would oppose WiFi because so few people would actually mak
    • I do not understand how people can be so cinnic.... If the city town spends money on it, then it will have to recover them from somewhere.... I think the true reason /.ers like it is because... they want their neighbours that do not connect to share the connection costs.

      Huh? And you accuse others of being cynical? I try not to be cliche often, but: you must be new here. In fact, checking your history of posts, your account was started less than a week ago... so your non-comprehension of /. is perhaps

    • cowboy76Spain writes: ) I do not understand how people can be so cinnic. They do believe municipal WiFi is free?

      This is a very old debate, from at least 1789 in the U.S. The question in those days was whether the federal government was justified in spending money on free light signals for shipping. The construction of a lighthouse, the staffing, maintenance and supplies (whale oil initially, electricity later) was quite expensive. Did the citizens imagine that the costs would not be recovered from the

  • by ProjectMayhem ( 860928 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @05:08AM (#11721338)
    Fuck Texas. Let them create stupid laws. Let their talented move to staes that recognize the value of the interweb. While we're at it, let them secede and take their former governor [] with them! If they don't want their citizenry educated, I suppose it's their prerogative. Where are Texas schools right now anyways? Ahead of Arkansas? Behind Bulgaria?
    • Re:[Shudder] Texas (Score:4, Informative)

      by KontinMonet ( 737319 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @07:32AM (#11721614) Homepage Journal
      They are very probably way behind Bulgaria. Bulgarian education is excellent. For example, for a small country of less than 8 million, they usually appear in the top 5 at International Mathematics Olympiads (in amongst China, USA, Russia) and they produce superb developers.
    • Yeah! (Score:4, Funny)

      by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @09:00AM (#11721840) Homepage
      While we're at it, let them secede and take their former governor with them!

      Elect pro-business candidates then act all surprised when they create sweethear legislation protecting business interests. Duh.

      Too bad we can't get Texas, Alabama and Utah closer together. Then we could let them start their own right wing facist christian paradise here on earth. The religion of big business at a 4th grade reading level.

      • Hey, watch it. There are plenty of non-fascists here in Texas.
        • I know, I used to live there. I apologize to you and the rest of my former neighbors, most of whom were genuinely wonderful people. It just gets very frustrating seeing the ugly shadow the Republicans cast across Texas politics. Like watching Mordor spread influence over middle earth.

          I still miss Saturday nights at my buddy's house when we'd fire up the bbq, drink beer and watch "wras-lin" on his big TV on the screen porch. We didn't watch TV as much as we talked to the neighbors and people who would

  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @05:20AM (#11721363) Homepage Journal
    There actually are legitimate purposes for government. In this case, the idea of wireless networking replacing most of the wired infrastructure would be very progressive--but anathema to the politically influential phone companies. Of course, those pork-barrel-politicians in Texas are going to jump in and stifle the alternatives. Lots of imaginative possibilities, but if they intefere with big business, just forget it.

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

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

    • The very purpose of the bill is to promote alternatives, by preventing local municipalities from using tax-money to fund WiFi networks. This is NOT a ban on WiFi. It has nothing to do with existing Telco's or land lines.
  • You'd Think (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ortcutt ( 711694 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @06:57AM (#11721527)
    You'd think that they would want to attract tourists and tech-savvy residents, who just happen to be the people who would be most attracted to municipal wireless. I guess not. Well, their loss. The only people to blame are the Texans who elected a group of people who want to reward telcos and cable companies at the expense of the residents. I should say that I all of my utilities are provided by my municipality and the rates and service are great.
    • The politicians know that if they pass this bill, they will get "donations" from the telco's, which will go right into their own pockets after they leave office. So passing this bill is to the personal gain of the politicians. What you are talking about is longterm gain for the citizens of Texas. THat is not all that much a consideration fot them. For some of them, yes. But personal gain is foremost, as it always is with any human or animal. What we need is a system that acknowledges this inherent human gre
  • by Anonymous Coward
    SBC the people who brought you:
    The web patent [] WRT frames previously written about on /.
    The 'no muni fiber' law in Wisconsin.

    Check the pockets of the 'elected' State officials and you'll find 'em lined with money from SBC.
  • That is how this should work. I don't care if the pipe is copper, fibre, or radio. Then providers can set up anywhere in town and provide the gateways the community is willing to pay for. They did this for the electric utility in New York.
  • In Texas, anything the government does is "socialist". The Republicans keep it around justified on the basis that "we represent those commie Democrats, too", so they have a vehicle for power and corporate welfare. But it better not step out of line...
  • Free? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chess_the_cat ( 653159 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @08:18AM (#11721728) Homepage
    ...would impose one of the most extreme bans on municipal involvement in any form of communications--free or otherwise (the bill could ban free library access)

    You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means. I believe you mean "taxpayer funded".

  • by Eternal Vigilance ( 573501 ) on Saturday February 19, 2005 @08:36AM (#11721775)
    Oh, that's right - San Antonio, Texas. What a coincidence!

    Looks like SBC's employees in Austin are hard at work.

    Having Read The Fine Amendment (the bill amends the existing Utilities Code), here are a few salient quotes:
    "...all public policy must be driven by free-market principles..."

    "Sec.A54.202. PROHIBITED MUNICIPAL SERVICES. A municipality or municipally owned utility may not, directly or indirectly, on its own or with another entity, offer to the public:
    (1) a service for which a certificate is required;
    (2) a service as a network provider; or
    (3) any telecommunications or information service, without regard to the technology platform used to provide the service."

    And removed from the existing code:
    "It is the policy of this state to ensure that customers in all regions of this state, including low-income customers and customers in rural and high cost areas, have access to telecommunications and information services, including interexchange services, cable services, wireless services, and advanced telecommunications and information services, that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas and that are available at prices that are reasonably comparable to prices charged for similar services in urban areas."

    Roughly translated:
    1. Government exists to maximize corporate profits. (When we talk about "free-market" consumers, understand we mean it in the same sense as "free-range" chickens.)

    2. Citizens are prevented from organizing and offering any telecommunications service that would allow them to use their economies of scale to threaten corporate profits.

    3. You'll pay whatever we want to charge you for whatever service we feel like providing, and you'll like it, since you're prevented from defending yourselves by organizing your own public service to compete with us when we ream you.

    If someone wants to abide by "free-market" principles, they might start by acknowledging that a group of citizens who agree to cooperate to provide a service for the public good are a part of the market.

    Any truly free and fair market should allow for a balance of both public and private participation.

    Government promotion of business interests over public interests has a name: fascism. (But calling it that tends to upset the chickens, so the less-upsetting alternative used these days is "reform.")

    If the communications companies (SBC alone has $40B in annual revenues, $100B in assets, and over 150,00 employees) can't compete against the residents of Plano, or Amarillo, or even Dallas, well, the real free market is tough. Compete fairly and provide a better service or find another line of work.

    (And we chickens better do something about this sort of "reform" other than just post to /., or our only place in the "free market" will be plucked and hanging upside down.)
  • This bill would, if implemented to full effect, prevent cities from putting up access points in City Hall, public parks, or the public libraries. If you live in Texas, please call your legislator and ensure that, if nothing else, such exceptions are delineated. You can find them by using this form. [] This could be one of the stupider bills to pass this year.

    I'll be putting in a call to Eddie Rodriquez and Gonzalo Barrientos later. Hopefully Gonzalo will be sober for a change.
  • Have just recently been researching municipal provision of broadband. Kindof strikes close to home, in that I've been shopping around for an ISP I can live with. No matter with whom, to get decent speeds, it seems it will cost what to me is a lot of money each month. Seems one more source of competition could only be helpful.

    That said, if the going thing is to prevent governmental operation in this area, then why not be consistent? Lets deregulate the snail mail industry. It's also an information del

  • Just for completeness sake here are a few of the non-governmental orgs that are promoting and facilitating free access in Austin.

    I certainly hope that the Lege doesn't make free access provided by NGOs illegal (imagine not being able to run your own AP out of your house!)

    Austin Wireless City []

    Austin Free Net []

    Austin Wireless.Net []

    EFF Austin []

    Save Muni Wireless []

  • For the benefit of those of us who live outside the US of A, can someone explain why on earth someone would want to ban municipalities from offering services their citizens want? Surely it's up to the citizens of the municipality to democratically elect the representatives who offer to provide the tax/services package they want? If not, why not?

    • Which may come as a cynical statement, but America was founded on the notion of a society of rugged individuals who work in their own benevolent self interest. The notion of government providing a service which could otherwise be provided by the private sector (i.e., individual entrepreneurs, existing businesses, even the dreaded evil 'corporation') is allophatic to the notion of American democracy. History has shown time and time again that when government attempts to provide a service, they do it less eff

There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923