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Summary:

Adina Levin and Chip Rosenthal have written about an omnibus telecom bill in Texas that proposes to not only prohibit the introduction of municipal wireless service but would also outlaw existing free WiFi networks that have already been established in various Texas locales.  The wording of […]

Adina Levin and Chip Rosenthal have written about an omnibus telecom bill in Texas that proposes to not only prohibit the introduction of municipal wireless service but would also outlaw existing free WiFi networks that have already been established in various Texas locales.  The wording of this bill is shocking because it would even prevent free WiFi in public libraries!  How ridiculous is this bill that is obviously originated if not even written by utility companies that want to keep their lock on any communication services that municipalities might want to offer.  When is the last time you heard about voters declaring they don’t want free municipal services?

Here is the proposed language of the bill:

Sec. 54.202. PROHIBITED MUNICIPAL SERVICES. A municipality or municipally owned utility may not, directly or indirectly, on its own or with another entity, offer to the public:

(1) a service for which a certificate is required;

(2) a service as a network provider; or

(3) any telecommunications or information service, without regard to the technology platform used to provide the service.

(via The Houston Chronicle)

  1. Although free is nice, I don’t know of any free cable or satellite TV or free wired phones or free cell phone or cell phone plan’s or any free way to connect to the internet (without a phone or cable). While you can get free TV with the old rabbit ears, how many people do that anymore ? My guess is that even if muni-wifi continues to be free in some area’s, the next big improvement over wi-fi won’t be.

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  2. Cities use free services like this to not only provide high profile utility to residents but to also attract companies to move into the area and stimulate the economy. While you are correct that there is no guanrantee that such services would always remain free why outlaw them? It makes no sense on any level to me.

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  3. More evidence of the decline of American democracy and civil society; from Texas, of course. In a fairly direct metaphor, they may as well legislate that municipalities may not provide libraries. Ah, the Republican mecca… lots of poor people to wash our laundry and over sized trucks. While one is immediately led to wonder if this is sort of reasoning is based in their own ignorance, I suspect something more direct and sinister (as usual). They are not all as simple minded as our President, after all.

    But in all seriousness, when you establish an education funding model designed explicitly to keep poor people semi-literate, this is the sort of thing that happens. Certainly, Republican policies will do nothing for the tech sector in the long run for the simple fact that you can’t get away with intentionally impoverishing your constituents unless you limit their access to higher education and the magic of critical reasoning and historical perspective. And what better way to limit that access than to simply keep them illiterate in the first place. It’s “worked” (to the eventual demise of empires) throughout history. This isn’t rocket science to figure out, really, Mr. Delay…

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