Here's a battle worth fighting
A number of U.S. cities are becoming giant wireless "hot spots" where Internet users will be able to log on from the beach or a bus stop, a trend that is triggering a fierce backlash from telecom and cable giants.
"We look at this as another utility just like water, sewer, parks and recreation, that our communities should have," said St. Cloud, Florida, Mayor Glen Sangiovanni, who hopes to provide free wireless service to the entire city by the fall.
At a conference this week, officials from dozens of local governments compared notes, listened to pitches from vendors and discussed ways to counter the lobbying of telecommunications giants that have sought to block them at the state level [...]
Slightly more than 100 U.S. cities -- as big as Philadelphia and as small as Nantucket, Massachusetts -- are setting up wireless networks now. Conference organizer Daniel Aghion said close to 1,000 local governments worldwide have plans in the works [...]
The trend has prompted an intense backlash from the large telecom and cable providers that sell most broadband access in the United States. At their request, 13 states have passed laws restricting cities setting up their own networks, and several others are considering such bans.
"With so many other issues challenging municipalities today, why on earth should cities waste millions of taxpayer dollars to compete with carriers already offering high speed Internet service?" said Allison Remsen, spokeswoman for the U.S. Telecom Association, which represents incumbents like SBC Communications Inc. and Verizon Communications.
Fucking telcos, oh so concerned about municipal budgets. It's none of their business whether cities set up hotspots for residents. They're nuts if they think people will surrender their home connections in favor of the local park.
Having free wi-fi in downtown Berkeley would make me more likely to take the laptop for a stroll to local eateries and cafes, rather than work from home 24-7. That would be good for downtown business, and Comcast could still rip me off to the tune of $45 every month for my home service.
So which states have sold out their residents to the telcos? So far, Washington, Nevada, Utah, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Pennsylvania (though Philly is exempted), Virginia, and South Carolina. If Rendell decides to run for president, we need to hang this albatross around his neck. States considering such legislation are Oregon, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Florida.
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