Big Telcos Oppose Community Wi-fi Projects

By Deane Barker on November 25, 2004

Telecoms lobby against public wireless networks: While we love hearing about community wi-fi projects like those in St. Louis and Taipei, telecommunications companies don’t. Providing this service is what they make money doing, and they’re actively opposing many community wi-fi projects across the country.

A chief complaint: a city can draw on taxpayer dollars, while a private company has to pay interest on borrowed capital. Also, the telecoms complain, public-sector projects are subject to far less regulation. […]

The bill that reached [the Pennsylvania governer’s] desk over the weekend originally included a provision that would bar “political subdivisions” in Pennsylvania from providing telecommunications services for a fee. […]

As the bill evolved, House lawmakers softened the provision to allow the public-sector projects if the traditional local telephone company first declined to provide the service.

In the days before the Senate approved the bill early Friday morning, Philadelphia’s wireless advocates discovered the provision and cried foul. In response, senators changed it to allow services operating before January 1, 2006, to continue, giving Philadelphia some time to get going.

This isn’t going to make many friends among the geek set.

On a related note, wi-fi continues to proliferate here in Sioux Falls. I was driving down Minnesota Ave. the other day and saw that the Taco Johns restaurants are now wi-fi enabled.

Gadgetopia

Comments

  1. I thinks it completely unfair for a government agency to push a private (for profit) company out of a market. Especially in this case. It’s bad enough that my cable modem service goes down 2-3 times a month, small market ect… However I would imagine it is far less a priority for a government agency to fix the problem than the private company.

    IMHO government agencies should limit their scope of work to providing security, infrastructure regulation and development (roads), and minimal “fall through the cracks” assistance for those who are in need. The rest should be provided through private companies or non-profits.

  2. It seems to me that it is more important than ever to KEEP the private companies in the markets. There are specific laws and company policies that prevent the intrusion of privacy over all forms of communications in the private sector. Beyond the convenience of government agency owned, tether-free connections, lies the loss of privacy at the whim of control-hungry individuals with political motives. If it seems far from reality, just take a look at Great Brittan and their strong advances in “monitoring”. Yes, even as it stands we still have lost privacy to movements such as the Patriot Act, yet, just imagine how there wouldn’t have been a need for it if the government already held full control over communications. Most of us have nothing to hide, but as many know, we are guilty until proven innocent.

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