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Subject: [IP] more on WI-FI RUN BY CITIES: YEA OR NAY?

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To:
  • Date: Mon, 09 Jan 2006 14:11:51 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: January 9, 2006 1:19:00 PM EST
Cc: &quot;'Dewayne Hendricks'&quot; <>, Harold Feld <>

The short summary &#x2013; PFF is utterly clueless about the Internet. They see services rather than connectivity. Debating them on their terms gives them far too much credibility. The cities themselves don&#x2019;t fully understand connectivity but the PFF exacerbates the problems by misframing the issues rather than helping find solutions.

Once again I need to repeat the basic points because organizations like the PFF seem to be fear progress and freedom and only see the world in terms of corporations without being able to understand marketplaces. A corporation is just a mechanism and not an end in itself.

I presume that the PFF also opposed roads, police services, fire departments and other money losing services. Firefighters should only provide services if they can make a profit.

Skimming the report it seems that Tom Lenard doesn&#x2019;t understand the concept of the Internet and can only see connectivity packaged as services provided by omniscient telecom companies. He doesn't have the concept of people defining services at the edge. The very assumption that this is about telecom shows that he&#x2019;s fifty years behind the times.

Somehow he thinks that telecom companies' spending money on redundant high cost infrastructures represents disciplined spending rather than an extreme example of corporate welfare and privilege.

The basic problem, as I keep pointing out, that you can't pay for a public good like connectivity by charging based on the intrinsic value of each bit.

Too bad cities accept some of the guilting and try to provide for connectivity on a pay-as-you go basis rather than as fundamental infrastructure. Thus we get municipal cable TV systems rather than connectivity because Tom&#x2019;s ilk requires direct funding. Cities aren&#x2019;t good at such services and in trying to meet Tom&#x2019;s demands they give him examples to use against them. It's like failing to fund education because the voters aren't attending school themselves and see value in educating others. They can see no connection between their inability to get competent help and their refusal to educate.

Progress and Freedom Foundation is a strange name for an organization that sees progress only in the rear view mirror and freedom only in terms of Mr Hobson's choice -- you can get any horse as long as it's the lame one over there.

It's not just that the cities have a right to step in; they have a responsibility to provide connectivity not because they are the government but simply because they are a mechanism for collective action. It's no different from a group of tenants getting together to purchase connectivity in bulk. The city is the way that people can get together to buy connectivity and the city is also a consumer of connectivity. Or does he oppose any attempt to innovate around the incumbents?

Finally, it's not at all clear that connectivity costs anything when you compare it with overpaying for artificial scarcity and then paying again for each municipal service having its own infrastructure.

Worse then not being able to build roads is building special roads for each municipal service and then banning profit use.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Farber []
Sent: Monday, January 09, 2006 12:23

Begin forwarded message:

From: Dewayne Hendricks <>

Date: January 9, 2006 11:24:09 AM EST

To: Dewayne-Net Technology List <>

Subject: [Dewayne-Net] WI-FI RUN BY CITIES: YEA OR NAY?



[SOURCE: C-Net|, AUTHOR: Anne Broache]

At a debate on Friday over municipal broadband networks, Harold Feld

of the Media Access Project squared off against Tom Lenard of the

Progress and Freedom Foundation. Not only should city governments

have the unrestricted ability to create their own wireless broadband

networks, but they should also consider baking broadband plans into

disaster recovery scenarios, argued Mr. Feld. &quot;At this point I think

most of us recognize that the Internet is not a luxury,&quot; Feld said.

&quot;It has become something essential for the conduct of business and

even the conduct of everyday life.&quot; But Lenard said the track record

of cities' involvement in similar ventures is &quot;not happy.&quot; The

evidence, he said, lies in several studies, one of which he authored,

that point to money-losing telecommunications firms run by local

governments. &quot;None have been able to cover their costs without being

subsidized&quot; by taxpayer money or rate hikes in other public utility

bills, such as electricity and water, he said. Lenard added that

large scale wireless broadband networks remain experimental enough to

warrant caution. &quot;When the private sector makes bets on one

technology or another, it's disciplined by the shareholders,&quot; a

process that he said tends to occur more efficiently than waiting to

vote someone out of office. But Feld argued that that's missing the

point of municipalities' involvement in the first place. Cities are

right to step in where &quot;there's a valuable social good or economic

benefit that would be distributed if somebody did this, and there's

not a rate of return sufficient to attract the private sector&quot; -- for

instance, in low-income or rural areas. Local governments should view

the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as a lesson, Feld said.

< 2100-1028_3-6022185.html?>

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