Friday, August 05, 2005

Disserving the Public - Yahoo! News

John C. Dvorak - PC Magazine Fri Aug 5, 5:50 AM ET

The United States has dropped to 16th in the world in per capita broadband deployment, and we can expect to slip further until we probably settle at the level of sub-Saharan Africa. While there is local interest in improving the situation, state and federal officials will make sure it doesn't happen. It's as if they are mandating a dumbed-down public. Heaven forbid we should be on the Net discovering cronyism, favoritism, and corruption.

The established phone and cable companies have no qualms about being on board with this sort of thinking. After all, why should they have to do more than coast along with high prices and substandard service?

The most onerous and disgusting example of this emerged last year in Pennsylvania in the form of state House Bill 30, which was passed despite protests and signed into law as soon as possible by Governor Edward G. Rendell.

Philadelphia wanted to create a municipal Wi-Fi network in the form of a universal MAN (metropolitan area network). This would be like a utility, costing the public next to nothing while providing universal access. You'd be able to log on from anywhere. It would provide municipal news and broadband access to the Net for anyone with a computer and an 802.11 connection.

The telecom lobby got wind of this and had its stooges in the state legislature draft House Bill 30, which actually banned such municipal activity. The rationale for such a ban? You tell me." (read more)

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