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Verizon CEO Calls Municipal Wi-Fi 'a Dumb Idea' 434

Posted by timothy
from the and-he-might-be-right dept.
ozone writes " An interview with Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg quotes him as saying that 'Municipal Wi-Fi is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard' and 'Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?' -- apparently Verizon's own 'Can You Hear Me Now' ad campaign has given customers 'unrealistic expectations' that their phone service will work everywhere. What?"
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Verizon CEO Calls Municipal Wi-Fi 'a Dumb Idea'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:52PM (#12258396)
    "Can you ping me now? No? Good!"
  • by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:52PM (#12258397) Homepage Journal
    And, in true slashfashion, they eliminated all context in order to get us stupid plebes to post angrily and jerk off the adserver for them. Here's what he actually said:

    That could be one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard. It sounds like a good thing, but the trouble is someone will have to design it, someone will have to upgrade it, someone will have to maintain it and someone will have to run it.

    Which is a valid point. Even if it turns out that people are willing to pay for all the work that has to go into it and the system works, it's a perfectly valid logistics concern. It just so happens he doesn't have faith that it will work.

    Furthermore, there's little context in the article about the comments on cell coverage. I get the impression he's complaining about people who call to whine that the phone doesn't work in certain, limited patches even though it works fine everywhere else. I'd wager that would be a small number of people complaining about lack of service in very limited areas, not a significant problem that he's writing off as being unimportant or below his company to fix.

    And I'm posting this as a guy who hates Verizon so much that I go out of my way to avoid using them....

    IHBT into giving slashdot revenue.

    Oh, wait... no I haven't. Because ads.osdn.com is in my hosts file pointing to 127.0.0.1 until the day they stop scatterbanning me on networks I haven't done anything on, and start posting worthwhile, intelligent content to the site rather than this half-assed drivel full of half-truths and misinformation just to get people up in arms.
    • by Kesh (65890) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:01PM (#12258447)
      Nicely said.

      However, I do have to say that the guy in that article really is an ass. Especially with this quote from the article:

      Separately, Seidenberg encouraged Congress to rewrite the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to decrease the role of the states. Phone companies frequently complain that it's difficult to offer national services while conforming to a patchwork of state and local regulations. In addition, some states have tried to regulate phone companies more aggressively than the Federal Communications Commission.

      "The first thing we'd do is pre-empt the states,'' Seidenberg said. "That's priority No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3."

      Ick.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's worse than removing context. It's just lying about what he said.

      The Slashdot article accuses him of saying "Municipal Wi-Fi is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard." He actually says, referring only to San Francisco's idea for citywide Wi-Fi, "That could be one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard." It's a valid comment, if you think about how freakin' big San Francisco is.

      • by juuri (7678) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:15PM (#12258552) Homepage
        San Francisco isn't big. Did you even bother to check the square miles covered by the city/county proper? Do you even know what SF's plan is when related to coverage areas?

        Oh, that would be no to both.

        For those who aren't familiar unlike many cities in the USA, SF is a very compact, small place because there simply is no way for it to sprawl as it is surrounded by water on three sides.
      • by bigben7187 (754240) <bcherry @ g m a i l . com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:22PM (#12258591) Homepage
        Actually, San Francisco is a perfect place for city-wide WiFi. SF is a rather small (physically) city compared to the population. Such a dense city is a perfect spot to give full-coverage cheap WiFi internet access, because you get so many people covered per square mile. Plus, him saying that it's a bad idea, simply because it takes work to make it happen is kind of ridiculous. "Slashdot is a bad idea, because someone has to design it, someone has to upgrade it, someone has to maintain, and someone has to run it." "A city-wide fire department coverage is a bad idea, because someone has to design it, someone has to upgrade it, someone has to maintain it, and someone has to run it." We're moving into an age where the internet is increasingly important, and access to it for everyone is going to end up needing to be present. One more thing. If he says that companies like Verizon are better suited to it, then why don't they start doing it? That's the whole problem is that they haven't. "Don't bother offering low-income children free public education, private companies like ours would be better at it."
        • We've already got darn near continuous wifi for most of the south bay, what with all the people who leave their base stations wide open....

          Oh, you mean -supported- city-wide WiFi....

        • OTOH, population density is the enemy of all things wireless: you can only have so much bandwidth per node, so the denser the population, the more nodes (and at lower power so they don't overlap) you must have. So it's probably a wash between dense cities and medium cities since you can space the nodes further apart and up the power in the smaller ones.
          • I don't know if there *are* really good scalable mesh systems, but Somebody ought to design them (:-) There are things like the Nokia Rooftop Network that did mesh networks with rooftop antennas - probably outdated given the evolution of 802.11 variants, but probably easy enough to update if they want to. Sonic.net, an ISP based in Sonoma County CA, runs a rooftop network [sonic.net] in Santa Rosa using them, providing DSL-like performance. Obviously this means that some fraction of their locations are seeded with r
    • If you hate it so much, why do you even read Slashdot? Why not give it the same treatment you give Verizon?
    • I disagree. I think it is a great idea. Here in Holland there are a few great initiatives based on wifi to bring wireless internet to the masses. And these initiatives were not set-up by big companies but by individuals. Ok, I have to tell you that these projects were started in the city and not in a rural area. But we do not have many of those over here in holland. But they were able to built a wireless network for one city-district called lombok (www.lombox.nl) with only one antenna on the church tower. A
    • While I agree with part of what you said, Slashdot is a geek news site. Just like other forms of media, you have to grab attention. Also, I think it's worth noting that you should always RTFA that's been linked to.

      It's also worth noting that the Verizon CEO wants to eliminate as much regulation as possible at the state level and give it to Congress and the FCC. Yikes!
      • by michrech (468134) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:50PM (#12259027)
        It's also worth noting that the Verizon CEO wants to eliminate as much regulation as possible at the state level and give it to Congress and the FCC. Yikes!

        That would most likely be because it's cheaper to pay off Congress and the FCC than it is to pay the affore mentioned plus those in power in each state to get what you want.

        See? He'd already be saving his shareholders money if he had his way!

    • " I get the impression he's complaining about people who call to whine that the phone doesn't work in certain, limited patches even though it works fine everywhere else."

      What really gets me is that Slashdotters, most of whom KNOW how radio works, bitch about it too. They also seem to think that the handset itself is the problem.
      • Well when you put two people on the same carrier with different handsets in a room, and one has service while the other doesn't I'd call it a good bet that the handset is at fault.

        I understand my cell phone isn't going to work in a metal building. (yet more than once I've had mine work in one that I would have though a good Faraday cage, and I know there was now mini-tower inside it) Likewise brick can block signals. It is a hardproblem making cell phones work inside. However when I have a standard w

    • Yeah, the Verizon CEO brought up an incredibly important point there. "Maintenance?" blubber the poor, incompetent fools in San Francisco. "Why didn't somebody tell us? And I thought once the thing was up, it would just run itself! Friggin' crap! Good thing we thought we could do it all with a cheap Linksys from BestBuy, or we might have wasted some serious taxpayer money!"

      Unless you're the sort who deep down really believes that corporation == competent && government == !competent, then
    • by mikael (484) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:22PM (#12258594)
      That could be one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard. It sounds like a good thing, but the trouble is someone will have to design it, someone will have to upgrade it, someone will have to maintain it and someone will have to run it.

      Good point - what experience do the Public Utilities Commission in supervising maintainance of critical services such as water, electricity, gas and sewerage?

      • by Doctor_Jest (688315) * on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:22PM (#12258909)
        heheh. Like the local cable service here saying "what business does the power company have doing cable service?"

        Before we got the local (municipally owned) power company's broadband/cable service, the local Comcast affiliate was "waiting on equipment" for broadband rollout (waiting forever almost.) And since SBC (Phht. ACK. Spit on their GRAVES) doesn't roll out DSL city-wide, we were waiting for some competition to spur on the monopolies. (put it in the poorest section, don't get many subscribers, then claim there's no market for it? GREAT IDEA local phone monopoly!).

        Once the vote for our power company to do cable/internet service was in, not more than a week later, broadband was suddenly available from Comcast "city-wide." Uh huh. Must've been waiting for the universal remote to control the broadband or something, and it came in via UPS in the nick of time.

        Imagine if we had voted no? :)

    • by Queer Boy (451309) * <dragon.76@nospam.mac.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:24PM (#12258604)
      That could be one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard. It sounds like a good thing, but the trouble is someone will have to design it, someone will have to upgrade it, someone will have to maintain it and someone will have to run it.

      This is no different than a business, which has a "community" WiFi.

      We have traffic lights which operate under the same principal as "someone will have to design it, someone will have to upgrade it, someone will have to maintain it and someone will have to run it". So I suppose traffic lights sound like a good thing but are too much trouble, we should just have stop signs everywhere. Same with street lights; let people buy flashlights.

      You know, while we're at it, screw sidewalks, there's a perfectly good street to walk in, people can just drive around you. And get rid of those damn public libraries, buy your own damn books. Take care of your own crime, fight your own damn fires.

      All those public services are stupid ideas.

      • by pipingguy (566974) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @11:08PM (#12259127) Homepage

        ...while we're at it, screw sidewalks...

        Re-hashing a 1992 usenet post from alt.folklore.urban: [google.com]

        "I, too, have heard the story about an architect who planted grass instead of laying sidewalks, let people walk where they would, and retrofitted sidewalks over the ruts in the lawn."

        What do you think this could imply if we make relevant analogies; pure chaos?
    • by MikeFM (12491) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:10PM (#12258859) Homepage Journal
      There is no reason to think that a government body, or quasi-government body like most public utiltiies couldn't set up a good network and do it for less than a company like Verizon.

      A lot of it is in hiring the right people. Right now there are large nubmers of very skilled people that are unemployed or underemployed. These people could be snapped up at a good price.

      Also, as many developing countries have learned, it's cheaper to invest in modern technology than to maintain and upgrade older networks. A wireless network that uses off-the-shelf modern parts should be much cheaper than a custom network built over a much longer time. Look at all the articles about growth in South Korea and similar places.

      A standardized network based on WiFi also would solve Verizon's "customers expect the network to work everywhere" problem because customers could throw up their own antenea on their house. ie It could even reach their basement just fine.
    • by ewe2 (47163) <ewetoo@@@gmail...com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:12PM (#12258866) Homepage Journal
      It's a funny thing about context. Some people see it, some people don't. What you've chosen to ignore is that in one paragraph he disses San Franscisco's proposed infrastructure based on ongoing costs, and in another paragraph admits the reason they want MCI is to grab THEIR infrastructure. Nothing about the costs of THAT, though no doubt Verizon will be passing that on.

      The man is a hypocrite, and you are indeed a stupid plebe for wasting your time on a site you apparently hate so much.
    • by ceejayoz (567949) <cj@ceejayoz.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:47PM (#12259013) Homepage Journal
      Which is a valid point.

      It'd be a valid point if Verizon didn't have to design, upgrade, maintain and run their networks too.

      Saying "It's a dumb idea because there'd be work involved" is not valid criticism.

    • My translation from CEO Speak:

      "That could be one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard,''

      That idea could cost us some serious coin, better pretend it's not worth taking seriously.

      "Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?" he said. "The customer has come to expect so much. They want it to work in the elevator; they want it to work in the basement."

      Jesus, are you people stupid? We will decide what we sell you, you don't actually believe all that crap
  • Bad service (Score:4, Funny)

    by John Seminal (698722) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:53PM (#12258407) Journal
    'Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house

    I knew I was expecting too much from my cell phone company.

    And what does this have to do with Wi-Fi?

    • Re:Bad service (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:01PM (#12258451) Journal
      "Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?" he said. "The customer has come to expect so much. They want it to work in the elevator; they want it to work in the basement."
      Mine works fine in basements. Next to the dryer (which I would think would generate interference).

      It also works in tunnels (which surprised me).

      They're even extending service into the subway.

      When a CEO bitches like that, he's just scared of competition.

      • Re:Bad service (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mkldev (219128)
        When a CEO bitches like that, he's just scared of competition.

        Terrified is more like it. With one of the biggest infrastructures and the largest customer base of any cell provider in the U.S., they have the most to lose if their overpriced, unreliable (IMHO) service gets encroached upon by much cheaper and only slightly more unreliable services.

    • by Aphrika (756248)
      Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?

      Obviously people at telco companies go to great lengths to avoid out of hours work calls from the boss...
    • > 'Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house
      >
      > I knew I was expecting too much from my cell phone company.
      >
      > And what does this have to do with Wi-Fi?

      Well, it was in the article, so it's on topic. I think the Verizon CEO was trying to say that customers have this unrealistic "wireless everywhere" expectation. I guess he's a bit nervous that wireless everywhere may come true but not because of Verizon.

      My Verizon cell phone did not work in my house. We sol
  • More at 11 (Score:5, Funny)

    by xiaomonkey (872442) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:56PM (#12258421)
    CEO of company that would lose customers is city wifi is deployed makes argument against wi-fi.

    More at news 11....
  • by DmitryProletariat (876610) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:58PM (#12258434)
    "That could be one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard,'' said Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive officer of Verizon Communications, during a meeting with Chronicle editors and writers on Friday. "It sounds like a good thing, but the trouble is someone will have to design it, someone will have to upgrade it, someone will have to maintain it and someone will have to run it."
    And worst of all, that someone won't be Verizon!

    What Verizon needs is a good 'ol common man smack-down... Internet users of the world: UNITE!!!

    • "That could be one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard,'' said Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive officer of Verizon Communications, during a meeting with Chronicle editors and writers on Friday. "It sounds like a good thing, but the trouble is someone will have to design it, someone will have to upgrade it, someone will have to maintain it and someone will have to run it."

      Yeah, and it'll be hard to match Verizon's level of customer service. I thought I'd seen it all with Sprint, but these guys beat all.

    • by mikael (484)
      I have a feeling that his statement will somebody become a famous quote, like these:

      There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.
      Ken Olsen, President, Digital Equipment, 1977

      For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three.
      Alice Kahn

      Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.
      Putt's Law

      For a successful technolo
      • Depends on the definition of "the people".

        Thank you, thank you for not including the "640k should be enough for anyone" line fancifully attributed to William Gates III.

        Back in the 80s when it started making the rounds, everyone could tell it was only a joke, but apparently youngsters heard it and took it seriously...
  • by John Seminal (698722) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:00PM (#12258442) Journal
    Seidenberg said it's not Verizon's responsibility to correct the misconception by giving out statistics on how often Verizon's service works inside homes or by distributing more detailed coverage maps

    Are you kidding me? Why would a person buy a cell phone unless they are lead to believe it works in the area they live in??

    Last year, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered all phone companies to give customers 30 days to test a service without slapping them with hundreds of dollars in early cancellation fees. But after the PUC suspended the rule a month ago, Verizon shortened its trial period to 15 days to match its 15-day return policy in other states. "We think there is a deal," he said. "We invest in the business and have the best service. But when you sign up with us, we'd like you stay with us."

    Is this interview a joke? It has to be a joke.

    This is what a monopoly is. When some CEO gets so arrogant they can act like that. In this case, it is a bunch of companies acting in collusion.

    • Is this interview a joke? It has to be a joke.

      Actually, I think the article is a joke. It seems a little slanted, but I'm sure the reporter doesn't have any hiden agenda. I'm not one to defend phone companies, but where's the rest of the comments? I really don't think the CEO of a major telecom would come off that bad, unless the interview was held in a bar with strippers pouring free drinks!

    • I used to be a Cingular customer, then switched to Verizon. Superior cell phone service and in more areas. Cell phone reception isn't perfect everywhere, but I'll pay the company that gives me the best reception.

      BTW, Verizon is not a monopoly. They aren't the largest cell phone provider in the US anymore.
      • They're not a cell phone monopoly, but they are a monopoly in a lot of regional markets where all the "competing" DSL providers have to work through Verizon to set up a customer's connection. Unsurprisingly, Verizon is known for dragging its feet and being generally uncooperative with these providers despite a legal obligation to treat them fairly. This allows Verizon to get away with providing shitty service, because it can ensure that its competitors' service will be even worse.

        Also they have the worst

  • by fm6 (162816) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:00PM (#12258444) Homepage Journal
    ...buggy whip manufacturers call automobiles "a passing fad".
    • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:53PM (#12258760) Homepage Journal
      I just got off my cell phone, having stood in the correct corner of the house where my Verizon service gets two bars (unlike the no bars I get in the rest of the house). Then I hopped on Slashdot (oddly enough, my DSL and WiFi work great) and checked out this article. Then I saw your post, and just about fell off my chair laughing.

      Perfect. Something about the term "buggy whip" makes me want to laugh anyway, but the comparison is apt. The telecoms think the world is going to slow down for them, so they can turn their behemoth organizations around and fight the next battle. While they're busy fighting their wars of industry consolidation, the technology is outpacing them.

  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:01PM (#12258449) Homepage Journal
    in many areas not just software. This time it's a business model being threatened which starts the FUD just like MS does with Linux.

    Verizon is evil generally and since having cable modem and Vonage I haven't paid a bill to them in at least two years. The charity I volunteer just switched to Vonage from Verizon and they are saving a couple of hundred a month.

    Verizon has many reasons to be upset but technology marches on. You can't control everything. Learn a lesson from MS and their attempts to FUD Linux.
  • Memo (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sensible Clod (771142) <dc-7@charte r . net> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:05PM (#12258476) Homepage
    From: Advertising Department
    To: Ivan S.
    Cc: Slashdot
    Re: Your Recent Interview

    Dear Sir,

    Recently we've been spending a lot of money on a good campaign to convince America we have good coverage. We think we've been doing a good job of it.

    Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that you made certain comments about Verizon's coverage, namely, 'Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?'

    To keep our image from suffering in the eyes of the public, our response (i.e. damage control) will need to be quick, bulletproof, and all-encompassing. Thus, our final words:

    AHH HAH HAH HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHAAAAH! LET THE MONEY FLOOD INTO OUR DEPARTMENT, FOOL!!!!

    Many Thanks,

    the Advertising Dept.
  • by Knytefall (7348) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:10PM (#12258515)
    "The customer has come to expect so much."

    That is unbelievable. Customer expectations are profit opportunities -- and if he's not willing to satisfy them, someone else will. He's actually angry that customers want service to keep improving!

    "They want it to work in the elevator; they want it to work in the basement."

    If Verizon won't provide the technology to make that happen, someone will.

    How did he get so far? He reminds me of someone who'd say "I wish those customers would stop calling!"

    Then again, when you're the CEO of a company that has a monopoly in most of its markets, I guess you can tell customers to f--- off with impunity.
    • They could stop using CDMA... My GSM dualband phone works well anywhere in Ottawa ...

      That and if my phone breaks I can transfer my SIM without paying the "ESN transfer rapage"...

      CDMA is worthless technology only used in north american and Japan. GSM is used all over the planet.

      Basically if you get a quad-band GSM phone you're set ... ANYWHERE [but beware because they're a good theft target...]

      Tom
      • No, CDMA is a case of better technology that lost. Though I'll admit that the SIM card is a great feature in GSM, and overall GSM works just fine. There is a reason that all the 3rd generation protocols are CDMA, including the GSM version. CDMA is hard to make work, but once it works it works better.

        You seem to be making the classic mistake of picking something, and then defending your choice as better no matter what. Don't do that. GSM works just fine, and is more common. That does not mean it is

      • by KillerBob (217953) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:08PM (#12258848)
        OTOH, if you want GSM in Ottawa, you're stuck with Rogers "bend over and this won't hurt much" AT&T.

        No thanks. You couldn't pay me enough to put up with their crap again. Between a cell phone that got jacked, a couple of customer "service" people who didn't believe that I hadn't been making long distance calls from Vancouver to Lebanon, middle management after middle management that couldn't possibly grok the fact that their own records showed concurrent usage from the "same" phone in Ottawa and Vancouver, them taking a year to cancel the service, only to not actually cancel it and send me to collections instead, and a year's worth of fighting with them in small claims court, no thanks. And then they wondered why I cancelled my video rental, TV, and Internet with them. Fuckers still call me to offer me bundles on the service, despite being asked to put me on the do-not-call list repeatedly. Ted Rogers can go to hell.

        Service was great when it was Cantel. Then they merged with AT&T. Coverage was still good, but customer service was nonexistant. Then Rogers bought Cantel, and the whole shebang went to shit.

        I'll stick with CDMA. The coverage map is less than half the story, and besides, I have much better reception and coverage with Bell than I ever did with Cantel/Rogers/AT&T.

        Incidentally... you do realise that it's *far* cheaper to buy a phone and use pay-as-you-go when you're in Europe than it is to bring your phone from home?
  • ...and ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:13PM (#12258535) Homepage Journal
    "It sounds like a good thing, but the trouble is someone will have to design it, someone will have to upgrade it, someone will have to maintain it and someone will have to run it."

    uhh. yeah.. why can't it be the city that pays for that part? because the city would get a too good deal?

    "Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?" he said. "The customer has come to expect so much. They want it to work in the elevator; they want it to work in the basement."

    uhh. I hate to break it to all of you - but here in Finland.. the cellphones actually (99.99% of time) DO work in normal cellars and elevators(they rarely work in big underground bombshelters though but that you can forgive). like, wtf? verizons boss thinks that it would be too much to ask for that, that the phone would work in your house? is he fucking bonkers? who would buy cellphone connectivity from a loonie that thinks it shouldn't work inside?

    and what the fuck has that to do with the city offering the wifi for free, for all he should care he should be trying to SELL HIS COMPANY to be the PROVIDER of those networks - like he said, someone is going to have to build them, someone is going to have update them and someone is going to make a buck out of providing that SERVICE to the cities - he totally fucking fails there(well, he doesn't fail, he knows that if the municipally built networks don't become a reality then overpriced wireless connections in those areas will continue to sell providing them with a good margin, thing is, he trusts too much that his company would be the winner in that case, so much that he doesn't want to even try to make the other thing happen which would be verizon providing those municipal networks...).
    • I'm trying to remember the full paged adverts TCI and ATnT took out in the local papers back in the late 1990s when the city of Tacoma (just south of Seattlesta) was planning on laying their own fiber optic network for telivision and network access. I believe they called them selves "Citizens for Fair Cable" and explained how monopolies were good and how competition would result in lower rates but quality of service would suffer. Those who actually took the time to visit other cities knew full well that t
  • by Mancat (831487) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:15PM (#12258554) Homepage
    Segway CEO calls bicycles "gay as hell."
  • by Alien Being (18488) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:19PM (#12258572)
    if municipalities considered contracting with verizon for installation or maintenance work on the system.

    "Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?"

    Uh, because it's not covered in tinfoil? Because my am/fm radio works? Because my friends' phones work here? Because not every cell system sucks as hard as verizon?

    Seidenberg gets an F in PR.
  • a great idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rnd() (118781) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:19PM (#12258578) Homepage
    municipal wifi is a great idea if you want to lock in 802.11g as the standard for the future... being able to sell homes and businesses wifi technology is what keeps pushing the technological envelope... want to kill wiMax? Support municipal wifi.
    • Precisely what incentive do you think Verizon (or whoever) will have to upgrade their wifi networks that municipal wifi won't have? Specifics, please; sputtering about "competition creates innovation" isn't especially persuasive when you have the CEO of the largest wireless service provider in the country (and therefore, most likely, the world) telling us that we can't expect our cell phones in our houses, ferchrissakes.
    • ehh... sure thing, not.

      municipal wifi.. even when happening.. would only happen in relatively small areas, leaving a lot of room for better technologies to have market, and when the technology is somewhat backwards compatible it can be updated relatively painlessly... like, why wouldn't they upgrade to wimax when it would be sufficiently cheap, and all their replacement parts would support it?

      and private networks in those areas covered.
  • heh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blackcoot (124938) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:23PM (#12258598)
    the claim that a city like san francisco is going to be totally unable to handle the logistics of wifi is, well, ridiculous. cities have to juggle a lot more than phone networks: they have to handle the logistics of roads, libraries, health services, schools, etc. --- a task which in my totally uneducated opinion appears to be substantially more complicated than running a wifi network.

    the rest of the article seems to serve only as proof that seidenberg and the industry he serves is full of proud egomaniacs.
    • they have to handle the logistics of roads, libraries, health services, schools, etc. --- a task which in my totally uneducated opinion appears to be substantially more complicated than running a wifi network.

      Most town and city governments are barely able to manage this much. Quite a number of them don't manage to do it.

      Sorry, but while I agree WiFi shouldn't be banned from municipal operation, most municipalities need to focus on those pesky problems like education and emergency services...none of whic

  • by WareW01f (18905) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:25PM (#12258612)
    'Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?' I find this really odd as someone that ditched my land line and now *only* use my cell. The number one requirement with that was that I could use it anywhere in my house.

    I work for a large-ish company and as such have the luxury of being able to take test units home from all of the vendors. We ended up with T-Mobile, but the main reason for that was that I can be in my basement and still talk on the phone. On a humerous aside I have a friend who has Verizon and can only manage to get text messages out of his house. I guess I can tell him now that it's just because he has 'unreal expectations'. (My phone works just fine in said same house.)

    It's really about the service folks. If Verizon was the only carrier that worked, that's where I'd be. When my city lights up with Wi-Fi, that's where I'll be doing VOIP. At least I can rest easy knowing that Verizon won't be bidding on that project.
  • Reaction (Score:5, Funny)

    by verbatim (18390) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:28PM (#12258629) Homepage
    1. Hold out your left arm
    2. Turn your hand so your palm is facing you and your fingers are up.
    3. Thrust your hand toward your forehead
    4. When you hear a *smack*, say "Well DUH"

    Next thing you know, Evian will come out and say that drinking tap water is a bad idea. Microsoft will say that running Linux is a bad idea. Just then, Harrison Ford will pop in to say "I've got a bad feeling about this..."

  • by k4_pacific (736911) <k4_pacific@y a h oo.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:29PM (#12258639) Homepage Journal
    '640K ought to be enough for anybody' -- Bill Gates

    'We think there is a world market for maybe five computers.' --Tom Watson

    'Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?' --Samuel Goldwyn

    'Municipal Wi-Fi is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard' -- Ivan Seidenberg

    • So there's a list of things people never said but got attributed to them anyway..

      Re: the goldwyn quote, now that we've heard what actors have to say, it turns out he's right.
    • 'Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?' --Samuel Goldwyn

      I've heard Ronald Reagan.
      I've heard Arnold Schwarzenegger.
      I've heard Richard frigging Gere.

      I think Mr. Goldwyn was about 70 years ahead of his time.

  • I know you are wondering, how could this happen? Well, I don't know either. But here's a theory:

    Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who will soon quit Verizon and join AT & T, was sitting around wondering, "How could I shoot off my mouth and damage Verizon? That would make my job at AT & T easier."

    Okay, maybe not a good theory. What's yours, then?
    • simple (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HBI (604924)
      Telecoms providing tariffed services subject to government regulation are not fans of change. Anything they can do to inhibit change and protect their current revenue stream is something that they will do. Some less well-informed people will read his comments and think twice about investment in new technologies. Therefore, mission accomplished for him.
    • Actually, your theory is intriguing. Could it be to damage Verizon Wireless employees? Link [usatoday.com]

  • I can relate to this comment in regards to T-mobile. I work from my house and found that unless I'm willing to stand outside in my backyard, I have at most two bars of signal (out of a possible 8). If I happen to be inside at my desk coding, 80% of my calls are dropped within one minute, and another 15% within 2 mins. In extremely rare cases, I can hold a call for an extended period.

    A call to T-mobile resulted in the following response: "Given where your address is, you cannot expect to have signal inside
  • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:53PM (#12258762)
    'Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?'

    Having worked for one of the larger cellular providers I can answer that question: Because customer are told that their cell phones will work in their homes.

    In addition, cell phone companies (CellularOne for example) are trying to get folks to use their cell phone as their only phone, therefore one would expect it to work in your house.

  • by zymano (581466) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:54PM (#12258766)
    They belong to corporate america and are dispensed by the FCC which is under the control of corporate america.

    Radio was a nice way to deliver 'censored' and 'politically correct' information to the masses but....

    a new competitor has arrived. It's name is Wi-Fi and it scares the hell out of the cozy 'good ole boy corporate-government' network at D.C. because it costs them $$$ for all that spectrum they paid billions for.

    It's just a matter of time before public pressure forces the SELLOFF of the corporate radio networks back to the government or some other WiFi businesses. Nobody wants one way RADIO anymore.

    The FCC should NOT be in the position of selling spectrum to the highest bidder.It should be handing spectrum to WiFi networks where it will be used alot more efficiently and help serve the most people.

  • Verizon (and comcast for that matter) are fighting Philly's attempts at free wireless network.

    http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/11410060.htm [philly.com]
  • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:03PM (#12258825) Homepage
    Verizon doesn't make any money from that.

    That's probably the dumbest thing the CEO of Verizon ever heard.
  • by edremy (36408)
    Of course municipal WiFi is a bad idea. Verizon would lose me as a DSL customer. Silly me, I should be happy with my 100kpb/s (note small b) connection speed. After all, they just closed my trouble ticket a day after I reported the problem.

    Time to call the helldesk again. You'd think after 5 calls in a month they'd get tired of me. I'm debating sending a check for $2 for service this month- I'm getting 1/15 the advertised speed, so I should only have to pay 1/15 of what I owe, right?

  • by argent (18001) <peter@slashdot.2 ... com minus physic> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:08PM (#12258844) Homepage Journal
    Seidenberg said private companies like Verizon, which already run data networks, are much better positioned than government agencies to offer high- speed Internet service.

    But private telephone companies aren't doing it. Governments and enthusiastic hoppyists are. Private restaurants and bookstores are. Private phone companies are trying to get individuals to pay through the nose by the megabyte for 4G services and selling them data-enabled phones that they can't access their preferred data services from.

    I have a Verizon phone. It's more powerful than my PDA, but I can't run any of my own software on it... in fact I can't run ANY software on it, except by paying exorbitant rates to Verizon for "Buy It Now". Verizon has a cash cow in their captive customer base, and they don't just milk it... they bleed it. Is it any wonder people don't see them as the natural providers of high speed data services, services... I note again... they they're not even providing.

    "Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?" he said. "The customer has come to expect so much. They want it to work in the elevator; they want it to work in the basement."

    You're selling me a telephone, and you tell me it's good enough to replace my landline. Why shouldn't I take you at your word?

    AT least your coverage is better than T-Mobile. T-Mobile I had to walk to the other side of my street to get a signal. Hell with "in my house" how about "in my back yard"?

    Last year, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered all phone companies to give customers 30 days to test a service without slapping them with hundreds of dollars in early cancellation fees.

    A few years ago I had a nice PDA-phone combo. I went to the phone companies that were compatible with it, and tried to get it activated with the pre-paid card they were selling.
    Them: "Credit card>"
    Me: "What for?"
    Them: "Deposit on the phone."
    Me: "It's my phone, all I want is an account."
    Them: "Oh, we provide you a phone."
    Me: "I don't want a phone, I have a phone. I just want the service."
    Them: "We still need a deposit in case you cancel early."
    Me: "A deposit on what? Why shouldn't I be able to cancel at any time, you're not risking anything but a bit of plastic and a number in a database."
    Them: "Well, if you don't want to give us a credit card, we can take a $200 deposit?"
    Me: "Deposit on what?"
    Them: "That's for the set up, the phone's free, you don't need to take it..."
    Me: "No, that's for the phone, it's not for setup. Setup on my landline phone was only $60 and they tested my wiring, ran a new cable from the pedestal, and installed three phone jacks. I don't believe that it costs you $200 to change one record in a database somewhere and give me fifty cents woth of plastic and silicon."
    I didn't get far enough to find out about "early cancellation fees".

    Open your books, mister Seidenberg, quit treating your customers as criminals and fools, and then maybe people will quit turning to government because the free enterprise system has failed them... because the cellphone market doesn't resemble anything so much as a parody of a soviet health-care program. Homeopathic levels of service and no accountability...
  • by DumbSwede (521261) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:19PM (#12258899) Journal
    Unfortunately for Cell Phones they are only a bridge gap technology before everything goes pure digital wireless. In an analog world every analog device was hard wired for its one function, there really was no other way. Now that all data is digital: sound, text, images, moving images, data, it will increasingly just flow wirelessly from device to devise, hopping down into the net to ride fiber optical backbones when needing to be sent to distant locations. The tangle of wires connecting your computer to printers, cameras, keyboards, perhaps even the monitor, will eventually disappear. Only the electrical cord remaining and fuel cell powered portables won't even have that. Data will just flow to where it is wanted and needed.

    As for indoor reliability of cell phones, my Sprint works quite well at home, but only after they built a new cell-phone tower quite close to where I live. I probably have the Chicago Bears to thank for that, as they played their home games here in Champaign a year or two ago while their stadium was modernized, and the cell phone capacity probably had to be upgraded for the temporary flood of Chicagoans.

    Cell phones could easily be upgrade to work indoors by either of two ways. A repeater station with a larger antenna, possibly pointed in some general direction of the nearest cell if the signal is really week. Secondly, smart or dynamic bandwidth use. The electronics probably aren't cheap enough yet, but no doubt soon will be to dynamically use only as much bandwidth as is needed for reliable data transmission. A benefit of this would be the ability to pay a little more for a higher quality voice signal, say using a full 32K or 64K of bandwidth instead of the over-compressed 16k one-size-fits-all chunk used today. In the digital realm a weak signal can be compensated for by using more bandwidth. You can also go the other direction, more reliability by keeping the bandwidth constant but slowing the data rate.

    In any event the cell phone is a specialized device, the early ones where analog, the latter ones hard wired to handle a very specific chunk of 16K voice data. Adding on cameras and the like are really just kludges and I suspect true 3G services will never truly arrive being side stepped by the advent of an internet everywhere sea of data always flowing, flowing, flowing. When out of range to reach the internet backbone some devices will probably be courteous enough to hand data along in bucket brigade fashion until it gets to where it needs to go.

  • by christowang (590054) <(moc.ecisys) (ta) (sirhc)> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:37PM (#12258975) Homepage
    "If Municipal WiFi is adopted the Terrorists Win." - Verizon CEO

    This Message brought to by Verizon Wireless. Talk to friends and family for free*

    * Fees apply.
  • by macdaddy357 (582412) <macdaddy357@hotmail.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @11:00PM (#12259084)
    San Francisco wants to perform a public service, and Verizon is only pissed because they lost an opportunity to grab a buck. These greedy businessmen would charge us for the air we breathe if they could get away with it. They are nothing but bloodsuckers.
  • by gearmonger (672422) on Sunday April 17, 2005 @12:40AM (#12259529)
    "We think there is a deal," he said. "We invest in the business and have the best service. But when you sign up with us, we'd like you stay with us."

    And expensive-to-cancel contracts help us do that because, well, frankly, otherwise we'd have to keep improving our service and that's expensive!

    At this point, the phone call abruptly ended: he entered a tent.

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