New Law Would Kill Municipal Wifi Nationwide
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It seems like just yesterday that Aunty told you about how ISP and broadband providers are lobbying to prevent municipal wifi, which would keep you from being able to have city-wide free wifi such as some cities are now offering.

Well, apparently some of the lobbyists took it to a higher authority, as Texas Congressman Pete Sessions has just introduced a Federal bill which would ban municipalities nation-wide from offering any telecommunications services where an ISP, cable company, or other provider is already offering similar services!


The relevant portion of the text of the proposed legislation reads:

“…neither any State or local government, nor any entity affiliated with such a government, shall provide any telecommunications, telecommunications service, information service, or cable service in any geographic area within the jurisdiction of such government in which a corporation or other private entity that is not affiliated with any State or local government is offering a substantially similar service.”

Wow.

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If you have strong feelings about this pending legislation, you may want to contact Congressman Sessions’ office directly and let him know how you feel. You can contact him by email [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead], or by telephone or fax at (202) 225-2231 or (202) 225-5878, respectively.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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9 thoughts on “New Law Would Kill Municipal Wifi Nationwide
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  1. For those who want the cities out of the loop, look at Ashland, OR. The city has put up a fiberoptic ring around the whole town, and all residents can get cable TV and internet service through the locally owned system. All revenues stay in the city to fund infrastructure maintenance. Cost of cable modem service through the local system is under $20 monthly, and download speeds are about 5Mb/s.

    The previous cable monopoly had been steadfastly refusing to update their lines to provide the service, while continuously advertising that cable modem service would be arriving “in about 6 months.” They said this for at least 3 years, until the city got up and running. Within three months, the private company had updated their lines to provide similar service, and it’s the only place in the state where they aren’t charging $50 or more for that service.

    In nearby Medford, which is actually the much larger population base (Ashland is under 20,000; Medford is 80,000), three years later they were STILL waiting for cable modem service.

    Point being, if the city has the money to provide the service, there isn’t any reason not to allow them. Public utilities have been around since there were utilities to have, and without the cities getting involved there would never have been the possibility of national growth that we have had over the last hundred years. The governments of our nation have been the impetus for electrical distribution, railroads, telegraph, the interstate highway system, natural gas, water, telephones, and every other thing that we take for granted which is required for our lifestyle to exist. Preventing cities from taking the initiative in establishing a necessary communication system is a service only to the private corporations who refuse to provide the service at a reasonable rate in a reasonable timeframe.

  2. This is an interesting situation. To an extent, I understand where they are coming from. LEts face it, building the internet is not cheap. Building the multitude of interconnet backbone systems has cost Billions of dollars, and cost millions to operate. Sure they make money, after all that is why they took the risk and invested the money to build these wonderful systems. But, what happens to the income if cities start offering free wi-fi access and people decide to discontinue their contracts for service. There goes the income, and pretty soon, there goes the internet. Extreme to say the least, but I sort of see where they are coming from.

    On the other hand, this bill is pure BS!. It is completely wrong on some may levels I won’t even go into them. For lack of a better name, what is needed is some sort of public utility that helps the ISPs and other telcom services providers still realize a profit. This only one idea, but there does need to be something done so that all sides win.

  3. …city has enough trouble doing its core tasks, like maintaining roads and picking up trash.

    The interesting thing to me is … A person could make the argument that the City/County/State governments have a requirement to provide just this type of service. From the right perspective, one could argue that internet service is much like the system of roads that we have now and support inter- / intra-state commerce. Therefore well within the bounds of government intervention and support.

  4. Apparantly he doesn’t remember the Internet itself was started by the Government. Where would we be now if his “profit-for-Me” bill was around then?

  5. Don’t worry, this bill violates so many parts of the U.S. Constitution that it would never stand up in court. (Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Assemble, Interstate Commerce, etc.)

  6. Note the bill’s origin: “…Texas Congressman…”
    Popular syndicated newspaper columnist Molly Ivins has often written that Texas is “the National Laboratory for Bad Government” (do a Google search on the phrase), and this is an example of the extreme right-wing’s selfish backwardness being exported to the entire country.

  7. It is ridiculous to try and legislate municipalities from providing ANY service to its residents. The forces at work here are money-grubby lobbyists and businesses who want to be able to charge for everything. The adoption of wirelesss services has gone slower than expected and stupid legislation like this won’t help. We need to keep special interests out of our pockets and our back yards, not to mention city halls.

  8. I went to congressman sessions e-mail and I can’t send my opion because I am not a texan. I feel that the federal govt is putting thier fingers in too much and should leave the states and local govt deceide what they want to do.I am a senior citizen.
    and big brother is coming even more.

  9. I don’t know where you live, but here in Tucson, the city has enough trouble doing its core tasks, like maintaining roads and picking up trash. I don’t want them into wifi any more than I do health care.

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