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Kansas To Nix Expansion of Google Fiber and Municipal Broadband 430

symbolset writes: "Consumerist, among others, is reporting on a Kansas bill to restrict municipal support of broadband expansion. Purportedly to ensure a 'level playing field' to encourage commercial expansion in this area, these bills are usually referred to as oligopoly protection acts. Everywhere they have been implemented expansion of new broadband technology stops. In this specific case no municipal entity in Kansas will be able to enter the same sort of agreements that enabled Google Fiber. From the bill:
Except with regard to unserved areas, a municipality may not, directly or indirectly:
(1) Offer to provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications or broadband service; or
(2) purchase, lease, construct, maintain or operate any facility for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications or broadband service to one or more subscribers."
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Kansas To Nix Expansion of Google Fiber and Municipal Broadband

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  • Freedom! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:12AM (#46118881)

    Freedom for Oligarchs. Higher prices for you.

  • Re:Sounds like... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:15AM (#46118899)

    America has the best government money can buy.

  • BWAHAHAHAHA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:15AM (#46118901) Journal
    I love subsection b of Section 2. Quote:

    encourage the development and widespread use of technological advances in providing video, telecommunications and broadband services at competitive rates; and

    That will never happen. Under no circumstances will people be able to get any of those services at competitive rates. What they will get are high prices for slow speeds.

    Looks like Verizon/Comcast/whomever was successful in bribing Kansas State House members into bringing this bill up for consideration.

    Gotta love fascism. Nothing like getting shafted by the government AND private industry.
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:16AM (#46118903)

    What's so hard to understand?

    Municipalities should own infrastructure.

    We have a situation where the roads of the future are privately owned, gated, and tolled. The rest of the world is preparing to steamroller over you.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  • Car analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:16AM (#46118909)

    Imagine every transport company building their own road system, and what that would do to competition, and prices.

    In other words, companies should not be able to have direct control over basic infrastructure. That's what we (should) have a government for.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:19AM (#46118927) Homepage

    Communism and Capitalism both have some things in common. Not only do they both begin with the letter C, but they are both "great ideas" and neither ever actually happen.

    Every time I see a story about a municipality taking their lack of development and progress into their own hands, some previously uninterested party steps in and says, "This is my territory and you can't build where we don't want to build." On its face it's ridiculous. They want to cherry pick -- to invest in the markets which offer the best returns. We all get that. But to deny anyone else the opportunity to operate in less favored zones is 100% anti-competitive and 100% anti-capitalist. Trying to keep other parties from participating in the marketplace takes the free out of free markets.

    I think it's about time there were some public hearings on the situation so that we can get them to say things they don't mean and can later be held to account on.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:22AM (#46118945)

    Perhaps if they pray really hard, God will create a super fast broadband network for them.

    They'll need to pray harder than the lobbyists who wrote this bill.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:30AM (#46119007)

    Nope, no closed minded bigotry here....

  • Re:BWAHAHAHAHA! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riis138 ( 3020505 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:30AM (#46119009)
    You speak the truth. In Michigan where I reside, Comcast and Verizon have a crushing monopoly in the home isp market using decades old technology. While our broadband speeds are not the slowest in the nation by any means, there is no competition for them to build and upgrade existing infrastructure. Something like Google fiber is one of the only hopes we have of getting some real competition in the area.
  • Wacky thinking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:51AM (#46119139)

    It is quite humourous that normally when people hold wacky beliefs - beliefs that have no evidence and defy common sense - are labeled "kooks"; but as soon as they identify themselves as "Christian", we have to treat those beliefs with respect.

  • Re:Wacky thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ILongForDarkness ( 1134931 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:07AM (#46119249)

    Exactly. If someone had a few thousand followers now who claimed he could bring people back from the dead, create food out of nothing, his mother was a virgin etc etc. they'd be called a cult and laughed at. Point to an old book that claims the same thing and ... presto piety.

  • Re:But Kansas! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:16AM (#46119323)
    That is the GOP for you, they are for no regulation unless that regulation benefits one of their members.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:20AM (#46119365)

    No willful ignorance in order to maintain a vague sense of political correctness here. Please do try to convince the class why Kansas and other such places don't deserve the hard time they get for their high density of bible thumpers.

    How about for the same reason that poor children in the inner cities don't deserve the "hard time" they get for their high density of gang bangers and drug dealers?

  • The Invisible Hand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:25AM (#46119405)

    of the market at work, not God! Except when it is not.

    All these companies bleat and cry every time they might get regulated even a little, yet will lobby for these sort of laws to increase their profitability.

    WWJD? Pretty sure he would dickpunch the lot of them.

  • Re:BWAHAHAHAHA! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:37AM (#46119509) Journal

    "...encourage the development and widespread use of technological advances in providing video, telecommunications and broadband services at competitive rates..."

    At the same time that they hand out local monopolies to the carriers.
    BRILLIANT. Not contradictory at all.

  • Re:But Kansas! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dontbemad ( 2683011 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:45AM (#46119565)

    That is the American Political Machine for you

    I'm sure you meant that.

  • Re:BWAHAHAHAHA! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ReverendLoki ( 663861 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:02AM (#46119697)

    You make your sarcastic comments, but where I am, it's getting very very competitive here. Hell, recently TWC bumped us up from 2 to 10 Mbps for free. Also gave us free HBO (not an introductory offer, just plain free), and offered to give us a wifi point (already covered, but still).

    Of course, I'm in KCMO, in a section where Google Fiber isn't yet, but is imminently on its way, but I'm sure that's completely irrelevant, and does not undermine the cableco's competitiveness message in any way at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:13AM (#46119805)

    This may come as a shock to you but the filthy uneducated commie pinkos beat you to orbit a man around the Earth and designed some of the best jet-fighters in the world.

    The failure of communism is that it lends itself to stagnation and autocracy. The failure of predatory capitalism is that it lends itself to balkanization of services, byzantine contracts completely leveraged in favor of the service provider and crony-capitalism. In neither of these is technological enfeeblement the largest issue. Technological progress happens in every society irrespective of politics no matter how much you consistently want to ride that particular hobby-horse.

  • Re:Wacky thinking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:22AM (#46119911)
    It's a matter of civility. I treat most Christians with respect, but I don't respect their beliefs. I have Christian friends who treat me with respect, but I know they don't have respect for the Atheist philosophy that guides much of who I am as a free thinker - or respect for free thought at all for that matter. However, if they are ever up for having "the talk", I am happy to corrupt their beliefs with a dose of reality. Likewise, they can try similar on me. Although it rarely comes to that either way.
  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:46AM (#46120215)

    "yet another bit of evidence that markets work better than regulated rent seeking"

    I don't agree. You are assuming that all regulation is the same. If however regulation was say, I don't know, made for say consumer protection, and for the citizens rather than bought and paid for by corporations, I think you would see regulation that works for the most part. It just happens that regulation is bent one way or another depending upon which corporate lobby paid for it (or took perfectly good regulation, to amend it to include loopholes for them and their buddies).

    Unless you can totally separate the state from the commercial interests their will always be political interference. Having totally independent regulation without corporate bias would enable the markets rather than detract from them. The market becomes skewed when one commercial interest gains leverage via regulation which is exactly what is happening in this story. Then you get several lobbies in a political bidding war, which is exactly what the politician wants to help win his/her next election.

  • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:46AM (#46120219)

    I love this idea that municipal ownership would magically fix everything. What, exactly, are you smoking?

    In my area the electric, gas, cable, internet, and telephone utilities are private. The water, sewer, and streets are municipal.

    So what are the track records of each? Well, we do get an occasional power outage, mostly from falling tree limbs during storms. However, the electric company is constanly out trimming trees to try and avoid that. There is an occasional gas leak. When that happens the gas company is there and fixes the problem very quickly. I have way more channels and options available on cable than I ever had before - seems the cable company must have been improving its infrastructure. My internet connection is faster and more reliable than it ever has been, and I can't remember the last time there was an outage. Don't use POTS anymore, but can't recall ever having an outage when I did.

    On the other hand, in my small town there is a water main break at least once a month. Their excuse? 'The system is very old and needs to be updated.' Are there any plans to do such an update? Nope.

    A city near me had a 100 year old sanitary sewer main break which flooded several houses with raw sewage. The houses had to be torn down. They also have a collapsed sewer line that caused a sinkhole in the middle of a busy residential street. The street has been closed for 2 YEARS. So what are they doing? 'Deciding how to proceed'. They also have a major street with a lot of traffic lights. At one point the lights were pretty well synchronized so traffic moved smoothly. Something happened and they got out of sync - traffic is a nightmare. After a few months of this people were complaining rather loudly. The citys response? 'It would take the city electrician A WHOLE DAY to retime the lights - we can't afford that'. Been like that for about 5 years now.

    Yeah, municipal ownership sure is a magic bullet.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:12PM (#46120517)

    You are assuming that all regulation is the same.

    The phrase "Regulated rent seeking" implies the shitty kind of regulation.

    If however regulation was say, I don't know, made for say consumer protection, and for the citizens rather than bought and paid for by corporations, I think you would see regulation that works for the most part.


    The market becomes skewed when one commercial interest gains leverage via regulation which is exactly what is happening in this story.

    I agree. I just don't see the point of trying to make a dig at the "Invisible Hand", when the market is being so blatantly thwarted and bypassed. It's like complaining a technology is unsafe because someone died after going through considerable trouble to remove the safeguards on the technology.

  • Re:But Kansas! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:21PM (#46120619)

    You can get 150mbps for $99/mo BECAUSE Google fiber moved into your state. Maybe not your direct neighborhood, but near enough that your cable providers upped their offerings so less people clamored for Google to roll out fiber to their neighborhood.

    This bill is about cable companies protecting their monopolies/profits so that no Municipalities get the bright idea to compete. Those small rural towns are pure profit for cable--the infrastructure is already in place (thanks to government money), there is no competition, and they can offer low speeds at high prices.

  • Re:Wacky thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mjr167 ( 2477430 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @12:55PM (#46120935)

    And that is an attitude that we seem to lack around here. We, as a society, need to learn to be able to not give a damn about other people's wacky beliefs (unless you believe I need to be set on fire or something and then we have a problem). There are people in the world who believe that cows are sacred. We slaughter and eat these sacred cows daily. They are going to teach their children that cows are sacred and we are going to teach our children that cows are tasty.

    It does not hurt you for someone to believe that the world was created by a flying spaghetti monster or aliens or green mold. It does not hurt anyone that people want to believe that invisible space monkeys have a plan for them that involves them giving food to the poor. It does not hurt anyone if someone wants to believe that the world magically sprung into being cause their invisible magic man cried or something. And it doesn't hurt anyone when they teach their children these things. No one complains that Amish kids grow up without electricity. If the kids decide their parents are crack pots, they will figure that out on their own when they realize that cows and bacon are tasty and the internet is grand thing.

    I wish we would stop trying to force our beliefs on each other. Let people teach their kids about their invisible men or aliens or evolution as they see fit.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @01:15PM (#46121147)

    I think you're stacking the deck here pretty unfavorably.

    In Minneapolis, the water utility is self funding and has done infrastrucure upgrades. Our water plant is state of the art, with filtration down to .03μ. They have been engaged in a multi-year project to reline water mains to prevent corrosive sclerosis of the iron piping.

    I can't think of any specific catastrophes with the sewer system and I know for a fact that upgrades of the treatment plants are ongoing as I drive by one frequently and know it has been updated and expanded because I've seen the construction, plus Federal water quality rules would be unlikely to let them get worse.

    Gas and electric utilities, while private in most places, are also heavily regulated. The state PUC has turned down or drastically reduced rate increases; the only reason they trim trees is to contain their own costs from damage, the cost is built into the states' approved rate structure and an inherent safety concern over downed lines. Don't kid yourself into thinking its done as a consumer initiative, especially with how badly they butcher the trees. Gas line maintenance is also heavily driven not by consumer need but by safety. There have been at least two gas line explosions I can think of in the last 10 years despite this.

    Cable TV prices have oustripped inflation by nearly 10%, yet performance has stagnated and poor service is pretty much common, and cable does everything it can to resist any pro-consumer initiatives. Ala carte pricing where it exists is a joke, explicitly structured to be uncompetitive. Cable card was resisted with maximum effort to maintain device rental monopolies. Internet service remains slow, expensive and fraught with all manner of rules and restrictions, and likely to get worse with the recent loss of net neutrality rules.

    I dont think most people want a purely municiple cable TV, I think what they want is a municipal fiber backbone that can be leased out to private operators to offer services. Cable doesn't want this because it would mean choice and choice would cut out their rent seeking and just further the march to internet delivered content from someone else.

  • Re:Wacky thinking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:16PM (#46121767)

    > but when you shed your mortal coil and find yourself in the Pit you will wail in disbelief

    That's alright, I know I'll be in good company. After all most people on Earth never encountered Christianity at all. Plus most Christians worship wrong anyway, and will end up in the Pit along with the rest of us - just ask the members of any *other* Christian sect.

  • Re:Wacky thinking (Score:4, Insightful)

    by James_Duncan8181 ( 588316 ) on Friday January 31, 2014 @02:25PM (#46121855) Homepage

    It matters not whether you follow Christian beliefs or not during your time on this earth, but when you shed your mortal coil and find yourself in the Pit you will wail in disbelief ... but by that time, it will be too late.

    AKA: "I don't care about people, but I'm forced to be ethical because otherwise I'll be in the pit." That's an inspiring ethical approach you've got there.

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