Re: Regarding Local Government Offering Wireless ISP

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 them.

(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? PAT]
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