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Bill Would Reverse Bans On Municipal Broadband 157

Posted by Zonk
from the everybody-wants-in-on-the-act dept.
Yuppie writes "A bill introduced to the House this week would overturn bans that currently exist in several states that forbid cities and towns building and deploying their own broadband networks. The big telecoms may not be be too happy about the bill, however: 'The telecoms have historically argued that municipalities that own and operate — or even build and lease — broadband networks could give themselves preferential treatment. The Act anticipates that argument with a section on "competition neutrality." Public providers would be banned from giving themselves any "regulatory preference," which should create a level playing field for all broadband providers. Municipalities interested in getting into the broadband business would also have to solicit feedback from the private sector on planned deployments.' The full text of the bill (pdf) is available from Rep. Boucher's website."
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Bill Would Reverse Bans On Municipal Broadband

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  • by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @02:53AM (#20111365)
    "'The telecoms have historically argued that municipalities that own and operate -- or even build and lease -- broadband networks could give themselves preferential treatment"

    how the FUCK is that any different to what telecoms do NOW? i bet at&t give themselfs preferential treatment on lines they install to. what a bunch of 2 faced cockheads.

    • by Divebus (860563) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @03:05AM (#20111417)
      Well, SOMEONE has to give the telecoms some competition, if nothing else to keep them from raping the public. The U.S. is already the laughingstock of the planet for how behind our telephone systems and ISPs are. It used to be the other way around - the U.S. telephone system under AT&T was the best in the world (for what it was). Now everyone else is running rings around us with bandwidth and features while the U.S. telecoms are artificially limiting what they deliver. Go Munies!
      • Screw this (Score:2, Insightful)

        Why don't we go ahead and put all goods and services in the hands of the government, because everything would be cheaper, right? Because they're not operating for a profit? I don't want to pay for your broadband, or anyone else's, with my tax dollars. Nor do I want my Internet regulated by those who brought us the PATRIOT act, the DMV, and the IRS. The government is terrible at managing cost-effective solutions to anything because they're spending other people's money. Take this million-dollar outhouse,
        • Re:Screw this (Score:4, Informative)

          by Enigma2175 (179646) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @12:43PM (#20113913) Homepage Journal
          The problem is that the municipalities are granting monopolies on last-mile transport to private enterprise instead of handling it themselves. If I have to pay Comcast or Qwest for my connection, they insist that they make a profit off of it. However, if my city owns the network all they demand is that they break even on it. My current connection is 15 Mb/s symmetrical fiber. It costs me about $36/mo. Previously I was paying Comcast $45-$50/mo for a 3Mb/512Kb connection. Yes, it cost the city some money to lay the fiber but now that it is installed the maintenance is fairly cheap and EVERY house in the city has a connection to the network. There are multiple service providers for data, phone and TV so there is no monopoly pricing, if you don't like your current provider you can switch. You can rant about government pork, but the local government generally does a better job of controlling overhead and grift than the federal. You are criticizing hypothetical networks but I am sitting on a real one and from my perspective, it is sweet. I am getting way better speeds at a lower price than I was before. Yes, some of my tax dollars had to be used to build the network, but with the monthly cost savings I am coming out ahead. I am generally not for expanded government but where it comes to natural monopolies like utilities and roads, sometimes government does a better job than business.
      • by bagsc (254194)
        I'd rather have Teleconglomerate (TM) profit maximizing than have LocalGoverment blocking/monitoring my porn.
    • by h4rm0ny (722443)


      So the customer is essentially the municipality? And the proposed law essentially says they're not allowed to do things for themself at any amount of cost that is better than getting someone else to do it? Even though there would inherently be less cost as there's no profit skimming overhead? Is that right?

      I suppose it's better than the existing law if that just says you can't do anything for yourself.

    • how the FUCK is that any different to what telecoms do NOW?
      The difference is that you have the choice not to pay for the service.
       
      • by iamacat (583406)
        Well, if you don't vote for your city's government, you are paying for far more expensive projects that you didn't choose to support. As for WiFi, the tax is likely to be dramatically less than at least $60/month that Comcast charges for Internet access.
      • by node 3 (115640)

        The difference is that you have the choice not to pay for the service.
        You are not required to live in an area covered by municipal WiFi.
        • by Wordsmith (183749)
          Taxed too high by your state? You are not required to live in that state. Don't like the Bush administration's policies You are not required to live in America.

          That's a weak argument. The government is the sovereign power, and as such must use its power responsibly. If a policy's bad, telling people they don't have to live in an area run by that government isn't a particularly practical solution; the onus is on the government to do a good job, not on the governed to shop around jurisdictions.
          • by node 3 (115640)

            If a policy's bad, telling people they don't have to live in an area run by that government isn't a particularly practical solution

            That's not in question. What I'm objecting to is the blanket statement about taxes in general, which is what Colin Smith (the OP) was getting at.

            He didn't seem to think municipal WiFi is bad, but that being forced to pay for it (taxes) is, regardless of the quality or merits of the project.

            Whenever a corporation does something evil (to their customer, or to their employees) the standard libertarian response is, "no one's forcing you to (shop|work) there," so this should be an argument they'd understand.

      • by timmarhy (659436)
        that depends on how they run it - there's plenty of government services out there that taxes dont' pay for and the consumer pays for directly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cathbard (954906)
      As an ex long term telco employee I can confirm that telco's give preferential treatment to corporate "strategic partners" (collusion anybody?) that would boggle your mind. These corporate discounts could never be matched by a municipality due to the scale involved. The amount of pocket pissing that goes on would make your stomach turn but when a telce does it it is is simply called standard business practices. How is a council giving preferential treatment to their customers any different?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thanatos_x (1086171)
      With respect, insightful? Yes, it is true that the telecoms do give themselves preferential treatment, but such an ill-formed comment. Yes, the fact that we pay more for ten plus times less is very very sad, but this isn't digg... Vocabulary. A more elegant weapon for a more civilized time. See also capitalization.
  • Commie! (Score:5, Funny)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Saturday August 04, 2007 @02:58AM (#20111387) Homepage Journal
    Goddamn activist legislators preventing ordinary Americans being price gouged by ISPs.

    Don't they know that that's SOCIALISM? And SOCIALISM is not just automatically bad, but Anti-American(TM) even when its not.
  • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Saturday August 04, 2007 @03:01AM (#20111405) Homepage
    If an ISP decided it would be cool to allow uncapped transfer over their network (ie, no cost of switching to another ISP), would that be considered preference?
    • by Yokaze (70883)
      No, the question is not so much, what they do with their net. The point is, that municipalities could provide special laws or regulations only for their provider. Say, they don't need to pay a certain fee, or only part of it, or they would be allowed to hang the wires at poles, while other companies are not. Or the municipalities services are made required to use the local provider.

    • Regulatory preference of the sort the USPS enjoys over UPS, FedEx, and DHL, I imagine.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @06:45AM (#20112051) Journal
        Typically this kind of regulatory preference comes with certain extra demands. As I recall, he USPS is the only carrier allowed to take first class mail but they trade off for this is that they are required to provide equal cost delivery for everyone. Here in the UK, Royal Mail deliveries in rural Scotland are subsidised by the cost of stamps in England. The price of a stamp is set at close to an average delivery cost. If you used an unregulated private carrier, then they would charge you more for sending something from London to Scotland than to another part of London.

        The rationale behind this kind of regulation is that communication is vital economic infrastructure, and the flat rate fees make the country as a whole more competitive. When the post office was in charge of telecommunications, they were required to connect a certain percentage of the population each year. A private telecoms company could have just gone after the ones that gave the biggest ROI. This is happening now; you have a lot more options for broadband in Central London, where the population is densest, than in many other areas.

        • Most telcom/broadband suppliers do this in the US. RCN's entire business plan was built around it. The US population is scattered in such a way that close to 75% of the population lives in just 20% of the landmass (Boston - DC & Seattle - LA corridors). One of the biggest things the telcos are fighting is that the municipalities are trying to require that they don't cherry pick who gets the service. AT&T has gone after several Illinois municipalities that are caught between regulations saying they h

          • Not sure why they'd allow that. It seems pretty obvious they can improve their infrastructure network all they want, but they cannot offer new services to customers until they do so equitably.

            "But that's not fair!" scream the telcos.

            Right. It's the law. It's not meant to be fair.
  • The Telecoms want net neutrality to only apply to them.
  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday August 04, 2007 @03:03AM (#20111409) Homepage Journal

    The big telecoms may not be be too happy about the bill, however

    I really have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it'd be nice to actually get something cool like this for my tax dollars. On the other, I definitely don't want to see my city out-compete our wonderful local ISPs. If/when they became the only game in down, what's their incentive to maintain the networks? Will Joe Cityadmin give a rat's butt if I call to complain about an outage? And above all else, do I really want the government (even the friendly local variety) being my gateway to the Internet? I have nightmares of hearing a prosecuting attorney saying something like "our city access records indicate you posted anti-government statements to a communist website called Dotslash." Maybe that's unlikely, but tell me honestly you can't hear a mayor explaining how his city's network will be "a safe place for our children to play thanks to our new monitoring and filtering system" to thunderous applause. If there's a vibrant ecosystem of private competition in an area, great. If not...

    Help me out here. Do I root for the cities to undercut big telco (whom I customarily hate on general principles), or for private enterprise to win out over the government's desire to protect me from myself?

    • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Saturday August 04, 2007 @03:23AM (#20111485) Homepage Journal

      what's their incentive to maintain the networks?
      The same thing that's their incentive to maintain all the other things local government provides: did the municiapal fire department become lazy because they've driven the private fire brigades of the 19th century out of business? Contrary to what they seem to teach in US schools, the profit motive is not the sole force for good in the known universe.
      • The same thing that's their incentive to maintain all the other things local government provides

        The desire to grow the tax base?

        God help us all.

        Fire departments, police, and roads aren't inherently competitive activities. There are some things that make a lot of sense to roll under the government roof. Telecom is extremely competitive, though, and I think that's good for us.

        Let me illustrate another facet: my local government is currently trying to force us to approve a bond issue to pay for a new water park that no one really seems to want. They're doing this by deliberately allowing the m

      • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @03:43AM (#20111535) Homepage Journal
        The same thing that's their incentive to maintain all the other things local government provides: did the municiapal fire department become lazy because they've driven the private fire brigades of the 19th century out of business? Contrary to what they seem to teach in US schools, the profit motive is not the sole force for good in the known universe.

        Absolutely. I really get tired of the unquestioned assumption that businesses will be more responsive to their customers than governments will to their citizens. The fact of the matter is, once a business gets over a certain size -- and the big telcos definitely fit into this category -- they don't give a shit what Joe Consumer thinks, because they don't have to. They're omnipresent, and if one or ten or a thousand customers get tired of their lousy service, tough; they'll never notice the losses, and the customers either have no choice (as is usually the case with telcos, of course) or the "choice" of dealing with some other megacorporation that's just as bad (as is the case with cell phone companies.) Personally, I'd expect a lot better service from a city-owned ISP than from some Not-So-Baby-Bell that's headquartered halfway across the country and has most of its employees halfway around the world, and makes more money in a week than my city council spends in a year.
        • by mosb1000 (710161)
          "I really get tired of the unquestioned assumption that businesses will be more responsive to their customers than governments will to their citizens"

          So I take it you've never dealt with the IRS, DMV, EPA, or most other government agencies that people have deal with on a regular basis. Even ATT is more customer oriented, and it's just about the worst the private sector has to offer.

          "Personally, I'd expect a lot better service from a city-owned ISP than from some Not-So-Baby-Bell that's headquartered halfwa
          • by Sunburnt (890890) *

            So I take it you've never dealt with the IRS, DMV, EPA, or most other government agencies that people have deal with on a regular basis.

            I have dealt with the first two plus the USDA, and while their policies may be completely bonkers, I have never received rude or condescending service, and have been able to receive meaningful follow-through with my concerns. Cingular... er... AT&T, on the other hand, has been pretty consistently awful.

            Even ATT is more customer oriented, and it's just about the worst

            • I currently live in a city that has apparently had a tradition of corrupt government continuously since at least 1900...and perhaps longer. This is odd, since the other local cities have no such reputation, and people move back and forth between them easily, often not even noticing which city they're in.

              So. Essentially the same citizenry, but one out of, say 10 (local is hard to be specific about) local cities is corrupt. People get upset with one government and "throw the rascals out". Makes no differe
          • by Dun Malg (230075)

            So I take it you've never dealt with the IRS, DMV, EPA, or most other government agencies that people have deal with on a regular basis.... Well, that's probably because you don't have a lot of experience dealing with underfunded, understaffed, municipal services.

            I like how you disingenuously list huge federal/state bureaucracies which have the same size/distance problems the OP cited for large telecom megacorps in a discussion about municipal government. I live in Los Angles, which has as disgustingly bloated and stupid a city government as you'll find anywhere, and still they run rings around Veterans Affairs, Social Security, and the IRS. Even with the city department of Building and Safety, which has a terrible reputation for sloth and ineptitude, I've been abl

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            So I take it you've never dealt with the IRS, DMV, EPA, or most other government agencies that people have deal with on a regular basis.

            No, I deal with them all the time, like everybody else. Well, okay, not the EPA, since I'm not really involved in anything that falls under their jurisdiction -- unless you count separating my garbage for recycling, which, BTW, where I live (Minneapolis) is a service provided by the city, and functions quite smoothly. We have three garbage cans instead of one; we separate
      • what's their incentive to maintain the networks?

        The same thing that's their incentive to maintain all the other things local government provides: did the municiapal fire department become lazy because they've driven the private fire brigades of the 19th century out of business? Contrary to what they seem to teach in US schools, the profit motive is not the sole force for good in the known universe.

        Yes, like they've done such a good job maintaining bridges [myway.com]. It is not like they have anything more importan [myway.com]

      • The same thing that's their incentive to maintain all the other things local government provides

        The reason the politicians want to provide you with WiFI is because it will buy your vote. In 5 years when the technology is outdated and expensive to maintain, it will be an entirely different matter where it's simply another cost to the taxpayer whether they want it or not.

        Fire departments are a bad analogy, they are required by law to maintain a certain level of service because fire spreads.

        • by jsebrech (525647)
          Fire departments are a bad analogy, they are required by law to maintain a certain level of service because fire spreads.

          That's the worst "that's a bad analogy" I've ever heard. It's a perfect analogy because you can mandate that the telco service provided by the government has minimum standards of service.
        • by jc42 (318812)
          Fire departments are a bad analogy, they are required by law to maintain a certain level of service because fire spreads.

          In my experience, information also spreads, often faster than fire.

          After all, fire is dependent on the availability of combustible material, which can only be used once. Information can spread at the speed of light (or electrons) through all sorts of physical media that is unaffected by the passage of information and can be immediately reused to spread more information.

          Of course, one cou
    • If/when they became the only game in down, what's their incentive to maintain the networks?

      If/when they became the only garbage collector in town, what's their incentive to maintain the waste disposal trucks?
      If/when they became the only road repairer in town, what's their incentive to maintain roads?
      If/when they became the only etc, etc,etc...

    • by pavon (30274)
      Yeah, I'm not a fan of the municipal broadband for the reasons that you stated. From what I've seen monopolies pretty much always such whether it is a corporate or government monopoly. Having the government provide subsidized service is the quickest way I know to kill competition and consoledate broadband providers even more than they already are.

      So if my city was proposing something along those lines I would definitely be against it. At the same time, if a community does decide to provide broadband then t
    • Although it's true that government can be quite lazy at times, we do have the advantage of living in a slightly democratic society, where local officials can be held accountable for how the government operates under their control.

      Private monopolistic utilities are often much harder to control, and at the very worst are criminally negligent. Con Edison in New York City is commonly cited as being an example of this, where they profit greatly, yet return almost no money back to their crumbling infrastructure.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Help me out here. Do I root for the cities to undercut big telco (whom I customarily hate on general principles), or for private enterprise to win out over the government's desire to protect me from myself?

      Personally, the Ron Paul supporter in me says that the Federal government should have no authority to tell the ISP, state, or local governments what they can or cannot do.

      If the local governments wish to have their own municipal ISP then I can justify that because there is nothing in federal constitution
      • If the local governments wish to have their own municipal ISP then I can justify that because there is nothing in federal constitution that would prohibit such behavior.

        I totally agree with that. If this were a new federal project, I'd be pretty well apoplectic by now. I'm OK with cities deciding for themselves; if a particular region wants to be entirely free enterprise and another wants fully-funded government services, that's their right.

        So yes... You can be a libertarian and still support municipal ISPs.

        Here's the problem: I fully support your municipal ISP, assuming you want one. I'm not sure that I'd support having my own municipal ISP, though, and I haven't heard enough about the track records of such projects to know how th

      • Personally, the Ron Paul supporter in me says that the Federal government should have no authority to tell the ISP, state, or local governments what they can or cannot do.


        Should the federal government have the authority to tell state or local governments that they can't discriminate against blacks? That they must perform a trial by jury? etc...

        • by vertinox (846076)
          Should the federal government have the authority to tell state or local governments that they can't discriminate against blacks? That they must perform a trial by jury? etc...

          Yes because it is in the constitution:

          XIV Amendment [wikipedia.org]

          Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

          • Well you just said the federal government should have no authority to tell locals what they can and cannot do.
            • by vertinox (846076)
              Well you just said the federal government should have no authority to tell locals what they can and cannot do.

              Sorry. I should have added "In regards to the article and the issue it was discussing." which only includes municipal broadband.

              Everything else still applies to its own little corner of legality.
    • And above all else, do I really want the government (even the friendly local variety) being my gateway to the Internet? I have nightmares of hearing a prosecuting attorney saying something like "our city access records indicate you posted anti-government statements to a communist website called Dotslash." Maybe that's unlikely, but tell me honestly you can't hear a mayor explaining how his city's network will be "a safe place for our children to play thanks to our new monitoring and filtering system" to thu

      • You're forgetting something: the only reason any private ISP can exist at all is because of a government-granted right of way to run cable wherever they need to, across public and private property.

        For the record, there are still ISPs that don't own their own last mile. Since my DSL runs over Qwest's copper, and Qwest is unlikely to passively allow anyone to tell them they can't run copper to my door, I'm not terribly worried about that.

        If the government passes some law or prosecutes someone to suppress speech (as it has before), a private ISP won't be immune to that... unless it has an army to defend itself with.

        The difference is the legal route should the city decide to enforce filtering:

        1. Private ISP: No. Until a judge says we have to comply (and good luck with that), we're not going to.
        2. City-owned ISP: OK. Until a judge says we can't comply (and good luck wit
    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      If/when they became the only game in down, what's their incentive to maintain the networks?

      I work as a locksmith for the second largest school district in the country. For lock repairs and installations, we are the "only game in town" for 1200+ schools. We do a good job because we are skilled professionals who take pride in doing our jobs well. For every story you hear about a lazy government worker who shirks his duties, there are a hundred other workers who are conscientious and diligent because that's how decent people do their jobs.

    • by Alascom (95042)
      Municipalities running an ISP is a very BAD idea.

      In 1994-1997 I ran an ISP in Anchorage Alaska. ATU (Alaska Telephone Utility) provided local telephone loop service. Whenever I needed to add new phone lines, ATU was on the spot and had the lines run within a week or two. Everything was booming with my business until the city council decided to let ATU provide dial-up service. Within a few months I was suddenly unable to get new phone lines for my ISP. ATU claimed I had too many lines already. Clearly
    • The way it works on my local city-owned fiber network [utopianet.org] the city just provides the pipe (or tube, or truck). I have the option of choosing between several competing ISPs for data service on the network. The ISP handles my transport to and from the internet, the city-owned network only handles the transport between my ISP and me. I can choose different providers for data, phone and TV or I can get all 3 services from 1 provider or I can just get 1 service (or zero). The city is just providing the road, Fed
    • by HiThere (15173)
      The cities should own the local wires and act as a common carrier. This shouldn't be any less reasonable than their owning the local streets & roads...and the access restrictions should be similar.

      The significance of this is that communications companies would only need to connect to the city at one location to be accessible (salable) to everyone in the city. This would promote competition. City services should only be local...but should be available. Broadcasts of the local council meetings, etc.
    • "Will Joe Cityadmin give a rat's butt if I call to complain about an outage? "

      Well, good luck if you have an outage with Comcast. My internet line was down for two months. They kept closing the ticket claiming it was fixed. One tech came out and tried to tell me I needed lighting arrestors that he personally would install for only $300. Then they finally fixed it just as I switched to Verizon FIOS. Then they called me back and asked what it would take to switch back... I told them "A promise that it wo
    • by PPH (736903)

      If/when they became the only game in down, what's their incentive to maintain the networks? Will Joe Cityadmin give a rat's butt if I call to complain about an outage?

      Re-election.

      And above all else, do I really want the government (even the friendly local variety) being my gateway to the Internet? I have nightmares of hearing a prosecuting attorney saying something like "our city access records indicate you posted anti-government statements to a communist website called Dotslash."

      In my experience, one local

  • by drsquare (530038) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @03:03AM (#20111413)
    As long as it's not paid for by the tax-payer I don't see the problem. Otherwise it's just a waste.
    • by medeii (472309)

      How exactly do you expect a municipal Internet service to be paid for, if not with taxes? Or are you one of those people who expects governments to deliver services paid for by fairy dust and wishes?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by argiedot (1035754)
        I suppose he means that while the municipality does own and run the service, it charges for it and the charges go to keeping it maintained.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)

        It would require an initial investment, which would have to come either from taxes, or from a private finance initiative. A compromise might be a good idea; allow local businesses and residence associations to fund some of the development in exchange for being in the first connected areas.

        Then there's the matter of running costs. This could be done by selling advertising space, although I'm not a huge fan of the concept. It could also be done by offering a premium service. There are a few options for

  • Wait, you mean municipal broadband will give preferential treatment for its own service? The one run by an elected entity, representing the people they serve? The one that won't be profit seeking (other than providing nominal tax dollars to fund other services)? The one whose pricing, serving level, and whatnot would be controlled by the citizenry at the city council level? HOLY COW BATMAN!

    I don't see a SIGN UP button on the article, damn...

    • by Colin Smith (2679)

      representing the people they serve? The one that won't be profit seeking (other than providing nominal tax dollars to fund other services)? The one whose pricing, serving level, and whatnot would be controlled by the citizenry at the city council level?
      You must be new.

       
  • Heaven Forbid.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sieb (749103) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @03:25AM (#20111495)
    municipalities get fed up at the empty promises the Telco's give them about getting them wired, and how they can't make money if the municipality does it themselves.. Given how the Telco's already squandered the millions of dollars that were supposed to be used for upgrading broadband, I would be in favor of locking out Telco's all together. Like hell I am going to pay for my city to upgrade its broadband only to hand it over to a corporation to get neutered, all the while they [the telco] will complain that "this setup sucks, if you had let us install it as we promised, it would have been better!"
    • by Fastolfe (1470)
      If your local government entered into a contract with your local telecom to develop services like higher-speed broadband for your citizens, with tax dollars, and your telecom failed to do that, surely the contract had penalties spelled out for that eventuality? If those penalties were insufficient or nonexistent, that's your community's fault.

      Something else to consider is developing municipal broadband infrastructure with tax dollars, but contracting out the maintenance and management of that to a telecom.
      • If your local government entered into a contract with your local telecom to develop services like higher-speed broadband for your citizens, with tax dollars, and your telecom failed to do that, surely the contract had penalties spelled out for that eventuality? If those penalties were insufficient or nonexistent, that's your community's fault.

        Federal Government. The Federal Government gave the telcos tax breaks which have totaled more than 2B/year because they claimed they would have it built out w/ everyo

      • by HiThere (15173)
        Perhaps you didn't notice the promises that the telcos made to congress a few years back. In exchange for a tax cut and some other benefits they promissed to wire the entire country with broadband. Now they're pretending that they never made the promise, while keeping the tax cut. (Actually, I'm not keeping track. I think what they may have done is passed the tax on to the customers, when it was supposed to be a tax on them, and they needed permission to raise the prices. So officially they didn't rais
  • by Elyscape (882517) <elyscape AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday August 04, 2007 @03:48AM (#20111551) Homepage
    So, if I understand this properly, the telecoms don't want municipalities to give themselves "preferential treatment". That makes sense.

    Wait a second. Are these the same telecoms that want to be able to sell "preferential treatment" at the detriment of everyone else? As a matter of fact, I think they are.

    The only possible conclusion I can draw from this is as follows: it's okay for large companies to fuck people over, but governments damn well better... not. Or something.
    What the telecoms need to realize is that the governments have been fucking us over for centuries, if not longer, to the point that they've nearly perfected it to a (very perverse) form of art. The telecoms can't hope to compete, though that doesn't seem to be stopping them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Winckle (870180)
      I love the use of language, when they do it, it's because they cannot maintain "network neutrality", when someone does it to them, they are being hurt by "preferential treatment".
    • by abertoll (460221)
      Of course... the media pretends to be retarded in the name of "neutrality." No one really believes that there's any merit to what the companies are saying. And if there were, why not deal with that problem when we get to it? I love the argument that "this MIGHT cause that, so we better not." I don't think we can pass laws (or not passed them) based on anything that has the remote possibility of happening.
  • Ya know, I keep thinking about the Constitution's mandate to build postal roads, and I'm still having trouble understanding why the national government is not the primary interstate ISP, and why the state and local governments are not the primary state and local ISPs.

    I understand the dangers in letting the government bureaucracy develop cutting edge tech, but, if the state is always so bad with infrastructure tech, why aren't more bridges falling down every year?

    joudanzuki, with reservations
  • I don't believe the Congress is granted the authority to write laws regulating state treatment of municipal ISPs (I don't see how you could possibly try to shoe-horn this into "regulating inter-state commerce").
    • by jez9999 (618189)
      *shrug* They shoe-horned the banning of marijuana into it.
    • If you buy things over the Internet, they are often shipped from a different state. Thus, the Internet is used for interstate commerce. Therefore, anything connected to the Internet is interstate commerce.

      When it's time to draft Constitution 2.0, that clause needs some serious rewording.

      • I was about to say interstate commerce - then saw ya beat me to it....

        What congress is doing with this bill is no more unconstitutional than the bills prohibiting local taxation of information services. One difference is that instead of limiting what local governements can do, the bill gives more freedom to the local governments (it allows, but does not mandate, municipal ISP's).

        The best of both worlds would be where the local goverment provides the last mile connectivity and the individual is allowed

    • I don't believe the Congress is granted the authority to write laws regulating state treatment of municipal ISPs (I don't see how you could possibly try to shoe-horn this into "regulating inter-state commerce").

      There are a lot that of laws being written by congress that actually step on the agreement of separation between the responsibilities of state and country.
      • by scgops (598104)
        You think that taking away the authority to ban municipal broadband would somehow promote local autonomy? It seems like just the opposite to me.

        I agree with GP. This bill looks and smells unconstitutional. Is Congress trying to give the Federal courts more work to do? I'm sure the lawsuits would start immediately.
  • It's a good thing (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Odonian (730378)
    Our internet service comes from our light department. Our town has no cable, and DSL covers only about half the town due to it's size. Last year the municipal light dept rolled out WiMax. It's not perfect, but it's damn better than dial-up. Before they went ahead though they had to write a letter to Verizon to get permission to enter the market, presumably due to this law or fear of it. Fortunately Verizon said yes (our town has only 1500 or so homes in it, so they probably didn't care - too busy rolli
  • Interesting that the US is taking a rather regulation-friendly route! In Sweden, anyone can apply to each local municipality to pull your own fiber - and I have never heard anyone being denied that. In rural areas aswell as cities, many municipalities have pulled their own fibers in order to give their areas a improved competitive edge when any of the main telcos have not been up to the task quick enough. The business model many have choosen is a completely open one; the offer to lease dark fibers, wavelen
  • by SwedishPenguin (1035756) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @06:44AM (#20112043)
    Here in Stockholm, there is a city owned company called Stokab, they build and own fibers to city owned apartment buildings as well as coop/condo buildings that sign a contract with the company. This company only owns and maintains the fibers, another company, called OpenNet, operates the fiber network. The actual services are provided by private companies, who are allowed equal access to the network. I have a choice between about 8 ISP's (with speeds between 10 and 100 Mbps both downstream and upstream, costing about 300 SEK (32/$45)/month for 100/100 Mbps), 4 VoIP providers, and (only) 2 TV providers, all operating over the fiber.
  • by j1mmy (43634) on Saturday August 04, 2007 @08:48AM (#20112503) Journal
    Which part of the U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to do this? Does the 10th amendment mean anything anymore?
    • by Agripa (139780)
      We are so far down the track that I can not even see them slicing salami.
    • The internet and communications in general are channels for interstate commerce and interstate communication... should be managed by a federal agency. It would be like a state banning cities from building roads that link up to the interstate highway system in favor of only allowing private companies to build toll roads to do the same.

  • Mixed breed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by keithjr (1091829)
    I wager the future of public internet access will be a combined effort of private and public initiatives. Take for example the town of Brookline, MA [brookline.ma.us], which recently implemented the nations first border-to-border wireless internet access system. It was an initiative based in the town, organized by the local government, but implemented by a private firm (Strix Systems I believe) to get a professional infrastructure in place. Although it's a pay service for most homes, public hotspots exist in parks, recrea
  • Municipalities interested in getting into the broadband business would also have to solicit feedback from the private sector on planned deployments.'


    Hey bob, they want to conect Bungtuck to Bumfuck, what do you think ?

    Tell them it's a bad idea right after you get our crews started on it.

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