August 24, 2005
No Role for Munis
The Fort Worth Startlegram has an article on the battle for municipal networks in Texas (annoying registration required).
The article introduces the issue by telling the story of Addison. No incumbent provider wanted to deploy broadband in the city. So the city sought out a vendor to deploy a wireless network.
The article continues to discuss the recent legislative battle over muni networks.
"I've had some municipal folks say, 'Well, we want to bridge the digital divide, and the Internet is too expensive,'" said Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford. "Well, cars are too expensive. Should cities open up car dealerships and sell them cheaper? What about groceries? Should the city get involved with that? I think they look at it as a utility. It's just such a slippery slope."
King questioned how fair it was for a company to invest heavily in a region and then have a city recruit competition that charges reduced rates.
In introducing legislation that would overhaul much of Texas' telecommunication laws during the last legislative session, King spearheaded a movement to include a ban of municipal wireless networks. The ban was struck from the bill, which the Legislature has since passed and is awaiting Gov. Rick Perry's signature.
"Talk about opening a can of worms," King said. "We did not realize a lot of cities were already doing this. From a legislative perspective, it was like the toothpaste was already out of the tube."
Somebody needs to let Rep. King know that cities have the right to setup bus service and food banks if they choose. Maybe if Ford and H-E-B hired some more lobbyists, they could seek the same protections that the incumbent telcos want.Posted by chip at August 24, 2005 02:27 PM