Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Texans Against Broadband?

Believe it or not, our "beloved" state legistlators are trying to enact legislation that would ban municipal wireless broadband networks. Why? To protect the big telecom companies who want to charge you for their service, of course! Hat tip to Above the Crowd for his excellent article on the subject (via Hill Country Views).

In case you're new to this topic, there's an awesome question and answer with Jim Baller at broadbandreports.com. For a brief description of what's at stake, I copied this excerpt:

Specifically, I learned that, at the turn of the last century, when electricity was the great new technology of the age, the private sector focused first on electrifying the major population centers and literally left most of America in the dark. Recognizing that electrification was critical to their economic development and survival, thousands of communities that were not large enough or profitable enough to attract private power companies created their own electric utilities. Municipal electric utilities also emerged in several large cities, in which residents believed that competition was necessary to lower prices, raise the quality of service, or both. Most of these communities found that they could provide for their own needs better and at far lower cost than the private sector could or was willing to do. Eventually, hundreds of these communities sold their systems to private power companies, having fulfilled their purpose of avoiding being left behind in obtaining the benefits of electrification. Most communities, however, retained their systems. Today, approximately 2000 public power systems continue to exist and thrive, providing their communities significantly better service at substantially lower prices than investor-owned utilities provide.

Now, the history of the electric power industry is repeating itself in the communications area. Indeed, for many of the communities that were left behind by the private electric companies, its "deja vu all over again." This time, however, there's an important difference -- communities with their own electric utilities are now in an excellent position to provide for their own current and future communications needs. Because municipal electric utilities, government facilities and schools are significant users of advanced telecommunications services, these communities have built-in "anchor tenants" that can ensure a sizable revenue stream and lower project risks. They have decades of experience in providing high technology products; dealing with residential, industrial and commercial customers of all kinds; and furnishing technical support and customer service. They have access to essential rights of way, poles, ducts and conduits. They also have a century old ethic of universal service.

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