TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Regarding Local Government Offering Wireless ISP

Re: Regarding Local Government Offering Wireless ISP

Thu, 28 Jul 2005 14:27:16 -0700

In article <>, John L. Shelton
<> wrote:

> I sent the following letter to Newsweek magazine after they posted an
> editorial in favor of letting local government offer wireless Internet
> access:

> In your 2005, July 18 issue, Steven Levy wrote "Pulling the Plug on
> Local Internet."

> Mr. Levy suggests that it is right for cities to offer competitive
> Internet services, perhaps because they can offer lower-cost options,
> and don't "focus excessively on the affluent." . . . .

> Government has no business making rules that it applies to others,
> then "competing" in the same market. If a local government wants to
> establish an independent competitive entity, it should bow out of
> regulation. If it wants to regulate, then it shouldn't play. . . . .

> Our cities will best be served by open competition in all areas --
> phone, TV, Internet, and others. . . . .

What "internet services" are these cities proposing to offer, exactly?

If it's things like email services, file storage, programming, remote
computing, other "data processing" services, then there may be some
merit to your argument.

But if it's just _access_ -- that is, just a raw connection to the
internet, which residents can then use to communicate with and purchase
services from any other host on the internet, then I have to express
violent disagreement with you.

The Internet is, truly, the "information highway" of today, with all
the basic characteristics of any other highway. It's basic
infrastructure, a vitally important basic component of modern society,
just like ordinary roads, highways, bridges and tunnels. (And as an
aside, that's essentially all that Al Gore ever said, and he was
absolutely right.)

Governments have always built roads and highways, including local
roads that connect to the interstate highway system; and there's no
reason they shouldn't build local electronic roads to connect my house
and others to the Internet information highway -- in fact, there's
every reason they should do so.

(And conversely, if any phone, cable or fiber company is going to be
given a franchise to lay cables or fibers over public right of ways in
my city in order to connect to my house and others in order to provide
electronic services, it should be an absolutely basic requirement that
these companies allow me to purchase from them, at a fair and minimal
rate, nothing but connection rights over those cables or fibers to the
Internet, without my having to purchase _any_ other services from

(And, in any decent society, these companies should be required to
provide these services at the same cost to any reasonable location in
the city -- not just cherry pick the high commercial value areas.)

Or is it your view that private companies should be able to build
private toll roads to anywhere they want in a city or state -- and
that in fact, cities should be banned from building public roads that
would compete with such private toll roads in any locations where
companies might want to build such private toll roads?


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: The message from Mr. Siegman stopped
at this point, sort of an illogical stopping place with the word
'conversely' as though he intended to say more. What you see above
is what I got here. AES, did you get prematurely aborted somehow?

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