Nebraska Forces City To Stop Advertising Free WiFi

from the how-dare-they! dept

I'm actually on a road trip across the US this week, still working along the way with a mix of EVDO and WiFi. I'm writing this post while connected to some WiFi in Cheyenne, Wyoming (nice town) and I'll be on my way into Nebraska shortly. That's why this story caught my eye: apparently the small town of Louisville, Nebraska has set up a free WiFi zone in their downtown and smartly decided to advertise that fact on the main highway that runs by the town. Yet, the State of Nebraska Roads Department has forced them to take down the sign, worried that other towns across the state might also demand that the state put up signs advertising free WiFi. Considering that the signs in Louisville weren't installed by the Roads Department in the first place, this seems like a totally misplaced worry. If other cities demand such signs, why not just tell them to put up their own signs if they want to? I might just have to swing by Louisville myself and post something using their WiFi.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Michael Brutsch, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 9:42am

    Not a billboard

    From the original article, it seems that the "free wi-fi" signs are not outdoor commercial advertising signs, like billboards, but are instead made to look like standard-issue green state signs. I can see how this could be both deceptive and confusing. I'm pretty sure I can't put up a red octagonal "garage sale" sign in my neighborhood, either. If they want to put up signs, just make them different from the state signs.

     

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  2.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:08am

    No more signs in NE

    With addition of these signs at least there will be something to look at in Nebraska.

    Seriously, the state owned rest stops typically have signs showing what amenities are available. Shoot, every exit has a sign that tells whether you have gas, food, lodging. I have seen Wi-Fi signs at state owned rest stops, so just pretend your city is a giant rest stop which may be closer to the truth.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:12am

    I think they are "official"?

    "If they want to put up signs, just make them different from the state signs"

    It seems to me the "township" should have the ability to place appropriately "official" looking signs to aid travelers? My state of Virginia for example puts up signs often showing what services are available on a given exit and I can certainly see where having Wi-Fi added to that sign might be nice (along with the EXXON, BP and TACO BELL logos they already contain). Of couse having come to that realization I think I can see what was scary about this to the people at the state . . . more work hehe.

     

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  4.  
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    some old guy, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Re: Not a billboard

    Local/gov't services are always listed on highways using brown backing (except rest areas, which are a mix of green and blue cause noone can agree that it should be brown). Commercial services are in blue.

    It would be wrong indeed for the city to put up a sign in green. But I see no reason why the city can't have the highway dept put up a brown sign. (there's money that changes hands here, that's fine)

     

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  5.  
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    charlie Potatoes, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:55am

    Good Plan

    "I might just have to swing by Louisville myself and post something using their WiFi." ........ Wait until you have an actual story to write before you write a story? WOW. Gonzo journalism... Where are Jack and Hunter when we really need them?

     

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  6.  
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    E. Hemmingway, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:59am

    Lick a nut

    Hunter S. Thompson was an illiterate moron what couldn't tell a story if his life depended on it.

     

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  7.  
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    Omaha resident, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: Not a billboard

    We have enough of an image problem here in Nebraska without funneling people towards Louisville. If you're heading across Nebraska, please keep driving on into Omaha, you're just minutes away. You'll find thousands of places with free wi-fi, and a major city full of things to see and do.

    Another quick tip for your drive across the corn-filled plains. After you pass Kearney, NE you're going to see an archway museum that goes over the interstate. You'll be tempted to stop as it's really the only interesting thing you've seen for miles. ... Just pretend you never saw it and keep on driving. You'll thank me.

     

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  8.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Not a billboard

    If you're heading across Nebraska, please keep driving on into Omaha, you're just minutes away.

    With NE being 400 miles wide, you better have an extremely fuel efficient car to make it all the way to Omaha from Laramie, WY, your probable last fueling stop. And on the archway, I have been under a few times and haven't stopped. Now I don't have to wonder if I missed anything. Thanks.

     

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  9.  
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    CN'E (d), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a billboard

    I meant Cheyenne, WY.

     

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  10.  
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    Another Omaha Resident, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:29am

    Louisville

    Welcome to Nebraska politics. A bill goes before the state to force insurance companies to cover cochlear implants. When asked why the bill didn't include pediatric hearing aids, the bills' sponsors claim that the unicameral can only deal with one issue at a time. A senator opens a remote office in order to talk to his/her constituents closer to home. He/She is ordered to close the office because insurance doesn't cover any potential injuries that occur at the remote office, only those that occur in Lincoln. There's more, but I'll stop there. I'm not surprised at either the State asking for signs to be removed or the city for using the wrong color sign.

     

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  11.  
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    Erik, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:38am

    If I were going cross-country, I'd actively look for towns that had free wifi available.

     

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  12.  
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    Another Omaha Resident, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 11:54am

    Re: Louisville

    Ugh. Hate it when I forget breaks in HTML mode. Sorry for the unreadability.

     

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  13.  
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    Michael G., Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Louisville

    The funny part to this is have you ever read a bill with just one thing on it. Our government, the American Mafia.

     

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  14.  
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    Another Omaha Resident, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 12:39pm

    Counting Blessings

    That's true, Michael G. I should count my blessings. At least the unicameral doesn't allow amendments that have no relation to the main bill. (No earmarks, either.)

    I guess focusing on *one thing at a time* depends on how you define it.

     

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  15.  
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    Overcast, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 1:45pm

    Yes, can't see why it's an issue if the township/city if footing the bill for it all.

     

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  16.  
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    Evan, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 1:54pm

    If what michael says is true and that it is on a state sign such as the green ones found on highways then this should be taken down, otherwise this will become abused. I do however think that if the city were to create their own type of sign such as a billboard than it would be completely acceptable. Assuming that the above is the reason for the state to want to remove the sign then i believe that the city should honor the request and do so.

     

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  17.  
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    Steven Colbert, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 5:24pm

    Quit lying Mike. You aren't traveling.

    The people your with must really hate you if you stop every few hours to blog about news articles about towns without wifi access and teledildontics.

    If you were in Vail last week, when your WiFi at McDonalds didn't work (and missed that discussion-- yes you should be mad), and your goal was to get east, you shouldn't have gone North on I-25 to I-80 but taken I-76 to I-80 and taken 50-75 miles off of your route. Considering gas prices, that would have made more sense.

    And Cheyenne is only 4 exits in size. I don't know why you think it's a nice town. Did you get fireworks?

    Any way you look at it, I'm putting you ON NOTICE.

     

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  18.  
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    Nasch, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 6:59pm

    Re:

    I know you're just trolling, but I can't resist replying to the REAL STEVEN COLBERT, right here on TechDirt! Wait a minute... his name is spelled "Stephen"! Dang! Oh well...

    Maybe he has some other reason to go to Wyoming. Personally I've never had a reason to go to eastern Wyoming (only through), but there could be one. Or maybe he was in Ft. Collins, in which case it would probably make sense to go up to I-80.

    And the only nice towns are big ones? Millions of people disagree with you. I'm not defending Cheyenne in particular, since as I mentioned I've only passed through, but small != not nice. Besides which you could argue about whether Cheyenne even qualifies as a small town with over 50,000 people. It's the biggest city in the state! Seriously.

     

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  19.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:29pm

    Re:

    Quit lying Mike. You aren't traveling.

    Heh. Well, I beg to differ. I'm now happily in Lincoln Nebraska.

    The people your with must really hate you if you stop every few hours to blog about news articles about towns without wifi access and teledildontics.

    Nope. The person (my wife) is perfectly happy with the pace at which we are travelling. My dog is fine with it as well, as she needs to get out and walk and pee every so often as well. But thanks for your concern. I'll let them know.

    If you were in Vail last week, when your WiFi at McDonalds didn't work (and missed that discussion-- yes you should be mad), and your goal was to get east, you shouldn't have gone North on I-25 to I-80 but taken I-76 to I-80 and taken 50-75 miles off of your route. Considering gas prices, that would have made more sense.

    I wasn't in Vail last week. Where did that come from? I was in Sunnyvale CA. I was in Vail last month for a conference, but that was done by plane. I'm taking 80 from CA so it made perfect sense to go through Cheyenne. We had originally planned to drop down through Denver, but there's some big convention going on, and we figured it was best to avoid it.

    And Cheyenne is only 4 exits in size. I don't know why you think it's a nice town. Did you get fireworks?

    Nope. Skipped the fireworks, but had a nice dinner downtown, and yes, I thought it was nice. Sorry to disappoint you.

    Any way you look at it, I'm putting you ON NOTICE.

    Sweet. When do I get to see my name on the board?

     

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  20.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not a billboard

    We have enough of an image problem here in Nebraska without funneling people towards Louisville. If you're heading across Nebraska, please keep driving on into Omaha, you're just minutes away. You'll find thousands of places with free wi-fi, and a major city full of things to see and do.

    Well, ended up stopping in Lincoln, but will swing by Omaha for a bit tomorrow.

    Another quick tip for your drive across the corn-filled plains. After you pass Kearney, NE you're going to see an archway museum that goes over the interstate. You'll be tempted to stop as it's really the only interesting thing you've seen for miles. ... Just pretend you never saw it and keep on driving. You'll thank me.

    Thanks indeed. I saw your comment earlier in the day and we drove right on by... Even went an extra stop to fill up for gas, since we didn't even want to get off at that exit at all.

     

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  21.  
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    Mike (profile), Aug 26th, 2008 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a billboard

    With NE being 400 miles wide, you better have an extremely fuel efficient car to make it all the way to Omaha from Laramie, WY, your probable last fueling stop.

    Well, the car does get about 400 miles+ traveling highway speeds between refills, but there are tons of gas stations along the way as well.

     

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  22.  
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    Tommy Jefferson, Aug 27th, 2008 @ 6:32am

    There is no such thing as

    There is no such thing as "free WiFi".

    It should be called what it is, either courtesy WiFi if a private business offers it, or subsidized WiFi if a government offers it.

     

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  23.  
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    Frequent passer-by, Aug 27th, 2008 @ 9:25am

    Not I-80

    I just read the article in the Omaha World Herald. The signs weren't put up on I-80. The highway they put them on was HWY 50; a two lane state highway. It passes right through Louisville. They wanted the signs coming into the town from both directions telling travelers about the WiFi.

    The state Roads Department will not allow such signs. According to the article: "The Roads Department has strict guidelines for what it will accept for highway signage."

    I agree this seems a little ridiculous. Still, the town could rent one of the billboards along the highway (of which there are several,) and the Roads Department would have nothing to say about it.

     

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  24.  
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    John Harrington, Feb 15th, 2011 @ 12:30pm

    I was the guy in the picture

    Wow, it was several years ago. We were out under the dark of the evening, busily attaching these Free WiFi signs to the "Business District" going north and south on Hwy 50. It worked! People started pulling in to check email (back then it was not possible from your cell phone" and it lasted 3 weeks, till the State took them down, and delivered them to the City Office. "Don't do that no more, next time we will throw them away!" Well.. I was so tempted to sneak out the next night and put them up again. Well... if anyone still has that picture of a fat crazy guy holding the free WiFi sign - send me a copy. They took mine away! - CJ

     

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