Say That Again

by Mike Masnick

Lobbying To Block Muni Broadband Is Just About Trash Talking?

from the just-a-little-jawboning dept

With all the talk about muni broadband and lobbying efforts to ban it, there was a very amusing exchange at a Senate hearing concerning all of the telecom mergers, where the CEOs of SBC and Verizone were asked about their expensive lobbying efforts to ban muni broadband. The two CEOs admit they do it, but say that "we can't stop anybody from putting in any technology that they put in." Oh no? Isn't that the whole point of lobbying for laws that ban muni broadband? To stop someone from putting in technology? Apparently the CEOs of the two biggest telcos don't think so. So what is it really about? "It gave us a chance to jawbone about it." Ah, to "jawbone" about it. Basically, it's just a little trash talking from the incumbent probiders who are upset (as they say) that these municipalities might compete "unfairly" with them by using their tax payer dollars to compete. However, those same companies don't seem to have any problem at all when that very same tax payer money goes straight to them in the form of reduced taxes to install broadband. Once again, if they stopped all of this lobbying jawboning, and started actually deploying broadband that people wanted, this wouldn't even be an issue.

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  • identicon
    nemo, 17 Mar 2005 @ 12:15pm

    No Subject Given

    Even if Verizon manages to get municipal government broadband banned by state laws, there are plenty ways around such bans. For example:

    1. Set up a public benefit nonprofit membership corporation in the municipality, with board independent of municipal government.

    2. Cut deals with municipal government on things like site rental for transcievers, servers, municipal code compliance, and even utilities if municipality runs utilities.

    This could even be done generally, with muni codes providing one price for services, rentals, permits, etc. for all nonprofit entities and another for profitmaking entities. Municipalities are generally allowed to make contributions to nonprofit entities, provided the contributions aren't constitutionally banned (say a 1st Amendment establishment clause issue).

    3. Nonprofit corporation offers broadband cheaper and better than the out-of-town commercial operators. Price of broadband service is the dues for membership in the nonprofit corporation.

    4. Profit!

    5. Ooops! Non-profit! But a good deal for nonprofit corporation membership among the municipal residents as well as the municipality.

    The key is local community involvement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      eskayp, 17 Mar 2005 @ 6:59pm

      Re: No Subject Given

      Gotta agree --
      "The key is local community involvement."
      Often the problem is that local officials are intimidated or coopted by the political influence of commercial broadband providers.
      Other times they get snowed by a barrage of tech talk which they lack the expertise to evaluate.
      Your concept of a community non-profit is a viable alternative if the 'for-profit' interests don't manage to have that outlawed before it can be born. I'll bet they are working on some birth control measures right now.
      I have seen a cable company supplant effective nonprofit community translator-repeaters by undercutting the local's rates.
      The cableco absorbed the loss just long enough drive the volunteers under and establish a monopoly that city hall was unable to reign in.
      By the time the complaints started rolling in it was fait accompli.
      People wanted more choices, lower rates, and more reliable service.
      But without competition or effective local regulation the cableco was free to do whatever they wished, users be damned.
      Rest assured I will promote your suggestion locally.
      People should have more than one choice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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