March 15, 2005
HB789 "carveouts" ban modern technology
The current version of HB789 tries to make exemptions to preserve some city projects, yet protect SBC and Time Warner from competition.
Unfortunately, the exemptions are modeled on outdated technology, so they are unenforceable.
The bill has an exemption for networks that are located on city property, such as libraries and city parks. However, today's "mesh networks", as deployed in Corpus Christi, Dallas, and other cities, can extend up to tens of miles, to cover a region or a city. Next-generation technology will enable even greater reach.
With the mesh network covering the Dallas convention district, it is not possible to prevent network access in the surrounding business area. It's like prohibiting a street light in front of one building from lighting the sidewalk for the building next door.
What is worse, HB789 tries to turn the clock back to the days before the internet.
The bill prohibits cities and towns from offering "video service" -- as if video service were a separate product.
These days, video services are available for free or low cost as part of every new personal computer sold today. Every new Windows computer comes with built-in video software. Every new Apple computer comes with built-in videoconferencing software.
The bill language clearly does not take into account the difference between the internet, and older telephone and cable networks.
Old networks combine the "pipe" and the services together.
* The phone company provides a wire and telephone service.
* The cable company provides a wire with cable tv service.
Internet networks separate the "pipe" and the services.
* The internet is a general purpose "pipe" that delivers any kind of data.
* A PC is a general purpose computer that can provide any kind of service -- voice, video, pictures, etc.
Banning a specific service like video is equivalent to banning the internet and personal computers. It's an attempt to roll back time and put the "genie" of the internet and PCs back in the bottle.