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The Net @ Risk: Community Connections

Is wireless internet access a civic right?

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Backgrounder: Community Connections
In Lafayette, Louisiana, residents and officials took on their phone company, BellSouth, and their cable company, Cox Communications, and built their own high-speed fiber network after the firms refused to bring true broadband connections to their community. Both telcom giants lobbied the state legislature to block Lafayette's plan, citing unfair competition. Ultimately, lawmakers put it to a vote to let residents decide. The measure allowing the community-built network passed overwhelmingly. BellSouth then filed suit, delaying construction by more than a year, before losing their case in court. There are hundreds of Community Internet and municipal broadband projects underway or in the planning stages in the U.S. But there are also 14 states that either prohibit cities and towns from building their own networks or have passed laws that make it more difficult ... [more]

Class Is in Session...
The United States — as discussed in the New Digital Divide Citizens Class — has fallen far behind much of the world in broadband penetration, and our broadband connections are significantly slower than those in many other countries.

But that's not the worst of it. Some rural communities, like Lafayette, Louisiana, that couldn't get high-speed Internet from their cable or telephone company simply decided to build networks themselves. And then the backlash began, with large commercial providers lobbying state legislatures and filing suit in court to stop local communities from doing what these telcom giants allegedly wouldn't do themselves. And now, there are several bills in Congress addressing the issue —one would protect the right of local communities to set up such networks — others which would make them nearly impossible.

Here, we'll explore community Internet and municipal networks extending broadband service to rural communities and meeting the goals of universal service. We'll also learn about legislation affecting municipal networks and how you can track what is happening in your community on this front.

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New community internet networks-like the one in Lafayette-crop up across the country every day. This new technology is making it possible for cities and towns to improve access to information, provide education and job training, enhance public safety, foster technological innovation, and bolster local economic development.

Communities are connecting their residents to the Internet through fiber, wireless technology and "mesh networks," which transmit broadband signals through antennas throughout the city. Rural areas, often deemed unprofitable by broadband providers, are now joining the Internet revolution, taking advantage of wireless services by doing it themselves. Some of the benefits of community Internet are universal affordability, public access, community development, and competitive advantages.

Jim Baller, an expert on public broadband and the attorney who represented Lafayette, has made the case that public electric utilities are ideally positioned to play an important role in building the national information infrastructure. They follow the ethic of universal service and their participation could increase competition in the delivery of telecommunications and information services. Further, they have historically filled the gaps left by private enterprise and served as yardsticks for measuring the reasonableness of prices and quality of services. In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt charged, "Where a community, or a city, or a county, or a district is not satisfied with the service rendered or the rates charged by the private utility, it has the undeniable right as one of its functions of government … to set up … its own governmentally owned and operated service."

Bumps in the Information Superhighway
The problem with these community Internet networks is that they frequently encounter significant roadblocks. Big telcom companies have lobbied to prevent municipalities from offering broadband service. More than a dozen states now have laws on the books restricting municipal broadband. Five states approved anti-municipal broadband measures in 2005 alone or added on to their current restrictions. But in nine other states, attempts to restrict community Internet projects were either defeated or delayed indefinitely.

Congress is currently considering reforms to the telcom laws, and community Internet is on the agenda. The Lautenberg-McCain Bill (S. 1294), for example, would "preserve and protect the ability of local governments to provide broadband capability and services," ensuring that local communities everywhere can decide for themselves how to best serve the technology needs of their own citizens. Community networks



But two other bills, one in the Senate and one in the House, would be detrimental to community Internet projects. In the Senate, Nevada Republican John Ensign introduced The Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act, S. 1504, a bill which would require local governments wishing to offer broadband services to ask the private provider for permission. Existing municipal projects would be grandfathered in, but would not be able to expand services. In the House, Texas Republican Pete Sessions introduced H.R. 2726, "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005," a bill which would prevent any city in the country from providing their citizens with Internet access if a private company offers service nearby. The bill would prohibit municipal wireless projects in any locale where a private provider serves 10 percent of the population or above.

Discussion
  • The nonprofit Free Press promotes community Internet as a public service and tracks relevant state and federal legislation. Check out your state on their site. Does your state impose legal barriers to community Internet projects? Do you live in one of the states that successfully held off a bill?

  • As we saw in the story about Lafayette, sometimes community Internet or municipal broadband projects may be the only option for some communities. What is the status of broadband in your community? Have you been satisfied with the services that you receive? Do you feel that you have adequate options?

  • Do you think that Internet connectivity should be provided in the same way services are provided by public utilities? Is access a right?

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Should cities be in the business of bridging the new digital divide?

The nonprofit Free Press promotes community Internet as a public service and tracks relevant state and federal legislation. Check out your state on their site. Does your state impose legal barriers to community Internet projects? Do you live in one of the states that successfully held off a bill?

As we saw in the story about Lafayette, sometimes community Internet or municipal broadband projects may be the only option for some communities. What is the status of broadband in your community? Have you been satisfied with the services that you receive? Do you feel that you have adequate options?


Do you think that Internet connectivity should be provided in the same way services are provided by public utilities? Is access a right?

I trust your program will approach this subject in a balanced way. If you are relying primarily on Free Press for your information, your coverage will be heavily skewed to the liberal view. If that is what you want, please be upfront with the bias on the show.

The Federal legislation you mentioned blocking Muni-WiFi has no practical chance of passage and the politics clearly are to allow and encourage municipalities to offer WiFi to the extent that they do not prevent or obsruct a private sector competitor.

The facts that we are behind other countries is also highly skewed. There are similar facts that when you compare apples to apples, we are ahead on broadband.

We have a different policy here in the U.S. We are promoting inter-modal competition among technologies wihich will be better and more vibrant long term. Other countries that have advanced on broadband have faux resale competition dependent on one technology and an underlying wholesale monopoly.

I am available as a resource if you all want both sides of the issue.

I am Scott Cleland, Chairman of Netcompetition.org an eforum funded by broadband companies that promotes a market based competitive future for broadband not the regulated vision of net neutrality.

I have broadband.

I'm a low income senior citizen and my provider just raised their rates.

If my broadband were provided by my community, it would make allowances for seniors and low income people.

Big corporations make no such allowances. All they care about is maximizing profits. I wouldn't trust Scott Cleland any further than I could throw him, and even if he isn't the typical bloated CEO, that still wouldn't be very far.

Scott,

Thank you for your comments. We have established this blog/citizens class in order to encourage dialogue from all perspectives. This is such an important issue that it is important to consider all sides and opinions and recommend sound public policy that will not result in unforeseen and unintended consequences. We will strive to draw out diverse perspectives and encourage a balanced and civil discussion. That is the goal of the Moyers on America Citizens Class.

I invite you to review the summary of the net neutrality debate and hope that you will continue to lend your perspective to this dialogue. Our goal is to have a stimulating, but civil dialogue and to encourage people to consider perspectives that are different than their own in a respectful and thoughtful way.

We welcome your expertise and your perspective. Perhaps you can share your thoughts about how we might balance the free market with the challenge of providing service to rural communities where there is no competition. Also Mark has raised a question about how we might consider the needs of those who have limited resources. What are some creative ways that your model might address these concerns?

Taylor Willingham
Moderator

Wireless internet access is one of the few keys to maintaining some sembloance of democracy at this point. We can no longer trust any of the mainstream media to present the truth, as it is controlled by a few monopolies. Internet is actually our only hope at this point. If corporations are allowed to take over, the voices of truth and dissent will be lost.

I agree with Therese, the NET is the only thing that has saved our democrcy thus far since the corporate-run main-stream media is determined to stifle any voices of dissent or reason. Also, cost is huge factor for those of us who are on Social Security or who are low income. To shut the poor from the debate on where this country is headed will certainly destroy the beacon America has historically been for the world. If people cannot afford to use the NET to connect to the opportunities presented by new technologies, then we will quickly develop an underclass that will result in all the problems that entails in other countries where people live in shanty towns.

Telecom in the U.S. today is a classic example of market failure; at least in rural areas of the country. Although the FCC uses zip code data to claim that competition exists, such data has been severely criticized and does not accurately reflect the nature of access to broadband in most rural areas today. In cases of market failure, it is appropriate (and in fact necessary) for government to intervene. Municipal networks are a wonderful means of providing consumer choice and encouraging competition, which will in turn result in more innovations and enhanced customer service for everyone.

The other interesting thing about municipal networks is that they can serve as an alternative to corporate-owned networks and would be neutral networks, whether or not net neutrality passes. In other words, municipal networks may be our only recourse if net neutrality fails in Congress.

I have published papers on all of these topics - they are listed on my bio page at www.ecorridors.vt.edu.

I found my head nodding in dismay throughout the broadcast. One quick question, the list of "comped" diners at Signatures moved by too quickly. I did notice the name of a local Atlanta law firm with a presence in D.C. named Long Aldridge & Norman. I was curious as to the attorney present on the list?
Thank you

It is good to see that the Telco mouth-piece, Scott Cleland, has added his dollar's worth. A large number of Astro-turf organizations backed by telco and cableco money hijack the airwaves with their marketing savvy and lies. If the telcos spent less time lobbying and litigating and put forth that effort in keeping their promise of a highly wired America, we wouldn't be here today. Cable took the lead in high-speed internet because of greed by the telcos. Monopolistic views and greed do not make for a healthy economy. Cities are building networks because of green fielding by telcos as well as lack of deployment. Studies have proven that broadband access supports economic sustainability. Even the national cable franchise that the telcos want will not result in real competition; it will be competition in affluent neighborhoods only. The rest of the community is out of luck. I understand the economic purpose of this strategy, but that is not the point. The point is that Verizon and SBC (AT&T) made promises to governments to bring 40MB to each home - as far back as 1998 - and have received rate hikes to pay for this network - as far back as 1998. Where's the network we were promised and paid for?

Net neutrality comes down to your cell phone access. How much content can you get on your cell phone? Only your providers network. That is what the monopolies want for your Internet.

Best advice for a law would be Truth in Advertising, because telcos already falsely advertise rates - then tack on fees and charges. And if the ad was for Internet Access, it better be the whole, unfettered Internet, not some walled garden looking like a remake of Prodigy or Compuserv.

"The facts that we are behind other countries is also highly skewed. There are similar facts that when you compare apples to apples, we are ahead on broadband"

This is pretty amusing and I would enjoy you extrapolating a bit on this statement.

In Korea and Japan, there is significantly low barrier to entry for data services and sufficient choice in the marketplace. Their customers have what we in the states would pay 300 per month for (FIOS service)... and they offer it for 15-20 a month.

1. price
2. choice
3. service

exactly what fruits were you wanting to compare?

Protect Freedom of Speech
http://action.freepress.net/campaign/mabell
and (Inter)Net Neutrality
http://www.savetheinternet.com

I watched this segment with great interest. However, I find that the story lacks quite a bit of accurate information.

BellSouth started laying fiber optic cable in Lafayette, LA in the early 1980's. In fact, the company has many thousands of miles more than the amount of fiber optic cable Vs the municipality. Our local government doesn't want to promote that.

Many of our companies have been utilitzing these services for nearly 2 decades.

Not everyone in Lafayette is for the government operating what the private sector can and is already doing.

The future is wireless and the fiber optic plan that mortgages our utility system for $125 million is not comtemporary thinking.

Fiber optic connection speeds are regulated by the copper wire and coaxial cable that is already in your house. What people would get is no different that fiber to the curb, which is what the private section is already doing.

The analogy I think of it that it's like the government building the highway system and then selling us the cars and gasoline. Is that what we really want?

By the way, has anyone checked how broadband pricing has been going lately? It's getting lower, not higher.

There are over 1300 communities in the US connecting subscribers via optical fiber. Correlation between FTTH networks and increased business relocations is quite high - benefiting overall economic growth in those communities. There is a marked increase in Teleworking over FTTH as well, taking cars off the highway during rush hour. Finally deployment of fiber by a competitive video service provider reduces video bundle pricing by 15 to 25% - a savings to consumers. And, municipalities actually see an increase in their franchise fees, because DBS operators lose market share to FTTH deployers.

Julie:

Thanks for entering in to the argument. The "dark fiber" the ILECs laid in the 80's does no good to anyone unless it has been activated and we are able to use it. The phone companies don't allow access to "their fiber" and that is why most of it sits dormant and unused.

Fiber optic speeds are NOT regulated by the wires in your home... most saavy folks will be more than willing to drop $50 for a 100Mbps internal network... Just get us the pipe to the door and we will do the rest.

Verizon is NOT doing fiber to the curb, FIOS comes straight to the door... FTTC is what SBC/ATT is toting as the "answer" when they quite frankly have not fulfilled their promise.

Can we establish a rule here that acronyms and jargon must be explained? "dark fiber" is relatively easy to understand (although a clear definition would certainly help avoid ambiguity), but when the posters start using ILECs, and FTTHs, FIOS, etc, any reader can get brain tremors. Perhaps the web master can underscore these terms so that a definition pops up for the sake of intelligent debate?

Another proposal for a rule of discourse comes ref. Julie Calzone's post of October 16th: ". . .has anyone checked how broadband pricing has been going lately? It's getting lower, not higher." How about giving the source of the fact so that we skeptics can verify it? That makes for good intelligent debate as well.

Sorry, I'm a bit too cynical, perhaps, but we live in a time when any assertion intended to be taken as an important contribution to the debate must be substantiated or challenged.

Finally, mistakes can happen, but can we all take time to proofread our entries? We've become a little too tolerant of poor writing, and unfortunately I find that to be more common on the liberal side of the debate--on which side I am firmly encamped.

Many thanks.

You know we can all debate technology all day long. What's at stake here is more than that. Everyone of us is for fiber, progress, technology and whatever it takes to get ahead in the game.

What's important in this debate is the government's role in the delivery of those services.

Does anyone out there remember that in order for the issue to come to a vote, the local government in Lafayette, Louisiana had to be sued? The court's decision is the reason the issue came to a vote. Prior to that we were told the only vote that mattered was the one we had when we voted our mayor into office.

When you mortgage a public utility to provide those services, you enter the world of fair competition. In our case, it's an important issue. None of the municipally-owned telecomms make money. They lose money. Please do the research. Most citizens don't have that time and only hear what the media tells them.

Why is it important? Cross subsidies from our utility company means higher utility rates to pay for a money losing operation. And, we've been told to expect it to lose money for the years it is in a start up and building phase.

Anyone who wants a service should pay for it. However, anyone who doesn't shouldn't be responsible for paying their neighbor's bill.

Thank you Tony for reminding me to source suggested facts.

I will use my business as an example. Last year I was paying $400 per month for 1 MG of broadband service and a dedicated IP address.

Today I am paying less than $100 for 6 MEGS and a dedicated IP address.

I'm confused. I thought a public utility was a business not owned by the community but by the owners of stock in the company and controlled by the largest stock holders who can sit on the company's Board of Directors with the ability to oversee and decide what the managers of the company are being paid and influence what those managers decide. I would just guess that a municipal company would be directed by managers hired by the municipalities' elected leaders. Can anyone tell me what specific municipalities actually own telecoms so that I and others can do "the research" we've been urged to do? I once lived in a coop building that was one of perhaps 20 buildings. That "Coop" owned its own electric generation capabilities. It charged us lower rates than the "public utility" did, yet didn't lose money.

John Charles Davis XI, MSCS, MBA, MCSE, MCDBA, MCSD
Senior Software Engineer
Charlotte, NC
john_davis_2367@yahoo.com

SUBJECT: The Net @ Risk from an information technology (IT) Professional’s Perspective

Often companies invest in a unique combination of hardware and software without checking the demand for available talent. Wanting to be on the cutting edge of technology, firms often build information systems based upon the skills, experience, and abilities of existing information technology (IT) staff that is underpaid, overworked, and not appreciated until they have left to go someplace. See the recent InfoWorld article titled "The real downside of a Fortune 500 analyst job" at the following link:

http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/03/14/76193_12OPrecord_1.html

This is a stupid and costly management practice and if it seems backwards, you are right. Such decisions are made by highly-educated managers and executives that seem to have lost all common sense. At other times, corporate mergers are the culprit. The only thing firms need to do is search the Internet job sites for .NET, SQL Server, Java, J2EE, WebSphere, DB2, Sybase, AS/400, Access, SAS, SAP R/3, ABAP, AJAX, Oracle, and etc… technology job postings to see the tremendous number of positions available. Thousands of firms across the United States and around the world have invested in their own unique combinations of technology only to discover that the solution to their systems development and maintenance quandary is like trying to win a lottery. The number of possible technology combinations employed by firms around the world is infinite. If you are having difficulty locating talent for your IT operation and have subscribed to the multi-sourcing model using temporary contractors, then you, like many companies overly concerned about headcount, are your own worst enemy.

At last count, there are now over twenty-five thousand jobs for SQL Server Developers and Database Administrators alone that cannot be filled in the last three years. The demand for .NET and Oracle skills and experience is much higher, yet only a few employers have begun to adjust their rates of pay to meet the level of demand. Many employers, not wanting to increase staffing levels or take responsibility for the people that directly contribute to their success, resort to hiring temporary IT and engineering staff where some middleperson takes a huge cut out of what the highly-skilled worker earns. These employers are often the same ones that hire and fire staff on a regular basis so that they can stay on the cutting edge of technology or maintain existing systems without sacrificing profit or making a commitment of any kind.

Based upon the number of unfilled cutting edge IT jobs that are posted by the same firms repeatedly for months and years, we just wanted to let you know that people in HELL ALSO WANT ICE WATER!


See the recent InfoWorld article titled " Executive order: Attract and retain top IT talent" at the following link:

http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/09/18/38FEjobstalentwar_1.html?s=feature

Sincerely,

John Charles Davis XI


P.S. ATTENTION CONTRACT TECHNICAL RECRUITERS.

Considering the demand in the marketplace and projected growth for the next ten years, it is clear that anyone trying to earn a living as a contract technical recruiter should starve, and rightly so, on a regular basis. If you are reading this and are one of these blood-sucking parasites, you will probably find yourself working the phones, the Internet, and Email to earn a dollar. Right now, every Tom, Dick, Harry, Rachael, Sue, Julie, Sarat, and Amir on planet Earth is trying to make a fast buck by being a temporary employer of some kind, yet the only real difference between each and every one of you is the amount of sales puff you can blow up an employer’s behind with the standard ‘WE ARE THE BEST” sales hype or the amount of payola that is paid to an employer to get a signed contract. Most of you lie, cheat, and steal on a regular basis to achieve your sales goals and maximize your cut of your secret billable rate. You also scour the resumes you receive for applicant placement and the help-wanted ads placed by employers to find new prey. Using resumes for marketing and sales is pretexting, which is getting private information about an individual under false pretenses, is wrong.

Lacking the high-value, high-demand skills to earn a decent living on your own, you can only survive in the IT or engineering profession by attaching yourself to another’s earning power through the use of a written contract with restrictive shyster clauses that limit the IT or engineering contractor’s career choices upon completion of a project. To claim it is “your client” when you not have the skills, education, or experience to do the job is a lame excuse for being in the IT or engineering business. Without us, you have no client.

Many skilled IT and engineering professionals believe the only career choice that is lower than a contract technical recruiter is that of a used car salesman at a buy-here-pay-here car lot or that of being a fourth generation professional welfare recipient. Skilled and educated people that do real work for a living are tired of being your meal ticket! You are nothing but scum.

It is time to get off of your lazy behind and get a real job instead of trying to live off of the hard work, experience, education, and hard-earned skills of others. You should be ashamed of yourself! Living off of other people is simply immoral.

Finally, I cannot leave this without standing up for the less fortunate, working poor in our society. Temporary agency recruiters and their associates that supply unskilled help sit on their butts and collect their pay from the hard work and sweat of others—often taking a sizeable cut of the meager wages earned by unskilled, working poor people. Your temporary employment agency is no different than welfare recipients supported by the American taxpayer because the working poor are forced to rely on social service agencies for what they cannot earn on their own. Recruiters of this kind are the lowest form of human being and so are the employers that use them. Both should go to work for Wal-Mart, which is the reported leader in screwing the working poor, to get a real taste of what they are doing to others to make more money.

If part of the package deal to de-regulate SBC and other phone companies was to provide hi speed service and they have failed to do so, why has our government not revoked their license for breach of contract?

As in radio, if a product is advertised and the listener wants to purchase same, so goes the internet. It must remain a free market as the population ages, if retailers want to survive.

Now more than ever, if America survives we must communicate in real time.

Few of the real thinkers in our culture are in Washington or CEO chairs. The Internet is the one bright spot in America where bloggers debate real issues in real time. That is FREEDOM.

**Clarification**

Verizon is NOT doing fiber to the curb(FTTC is fiber to the curb and is what the "other" major phone companuy (i.e. ILEC in this Case SBC/ATT) is saying is their fulfillment of their "promise" of getting 80% of residential customers on fiberoptic access), FIOS (no idea what this acronym is, it is a Verizon service available in Texas and New Jersey that is 50 Mbps downlink and up to 10 Mbps uplink) comes straight to the door... Fiber To The Curb is what SBC/ATT is toting as the "answer" when they quite frankly have not fulfilled their promise... they are not running the fiber to our homes (like verizon) they are running it to junction boxes in a neighborhood and anyone wanting to hook up to this does so at thier own expense.

In addition, these breakneck speeds for FIOS (from Verizon) and Lightspeed (FTTC from SBC/ATT) both cost in the neighborhood of $300 per month.

A No-Gain Network

Before taxpayers committed to $125 million in bond funding for the Lafayette, Louisiana, LUS Fiber Initiative for broadband, we needed to have a much better explanation of how this project could possibly pay for itself in the face of the catastrophic failures of other, similar networks.

We heard the best-case scenario for the LUS project - in which the network becomes self-sufficient by 2008, sweeping up subscribers with 100-Megabit broadband, and bringing economic development to Lafayette as it bridges the digital divide. But this scenario doesn't mesh with the experience of other cities that have already built such networks.

It's not just that the assumptions used to derive the numbers were optimistic or that monopoly utilities have little concept of the cost of customer acquisition or retention, much less marketing. It's that the majority of municipal fiber networks to date have failed to meet their published objectives for revenue and subscriber levels.

Some of the failures have been catastrophic - like Tacoma, Washington, which built the Click! Network to provide broadband in the late 1990s with an initial estimate that capital costs would be $40 million. By 2002, the city had spent more than $100 million on Click! In Ashland, Oregon, a municipal broadband network fell 18 months behind schedule during construction. The city's initial 1998 plan called for profitability by 2004, with a 10-year gain of $3.8 million. After the network did not meet original estimates, the plan was revised and now projects a 10-year loss of $6.9 million. The network in Marietta, Georgia, suffered a $24 million loss (and someone might want to research what finally happened to that network); a Washington public utility district has been absorbing losses of $15,000 to $17,000 per year; and Trion, Georgia, has spent $1,800 per resident reducing a surplus to 10 cents on the dollar.

It would be one thing if these were isolated incidents, but virtually every municipal fiber network built in the last decade has failed. Even the network in Bristol, Virginia - held up by LUS as an example of shining success - is hemorrhaging money, mired in controversy and raising its rates for other utility services to cover its massive losses. (Bristol's failing network was designed by the same consultant who advised the Lafayette Consolidated Government - using a similar set of assumptions.)

Other communities worth looking into are Glasgow, Kentucky and Cedar Falls, Iowa.

There is also the whole issue of lower prices. The municipality may be able to artificially hold prices low for a while, or claim that government intervention has led to lower market prices through competition. But the reality is that competition is only one component of lower prices - and a relatively small component at that. Much more critical to the overall pricing of these services are the economies of scale that large private companies with a national footprint can amass; technological change and innovation unmatched by utility monopolies; and the bargaining power that allows private companies to command premium content at lower prices than the municipalities can negotiate. None of these are accounted for in the LUS plan. Has anyone asked this question? What does the lower the prices go for LUS services mean? Does it mean higher losses? If it does, how does that impact the bottom line for the LUS communications division?

Before taxpayers in Lafayette voted to give the city its $125 million bond issue, LUS needed to explain what happens when its network does what other city networks have done, what the worst-case scenario is, and what that means to taxpayers and ratepayers who are stuck with the bill. The media in Lafayette didn't do a good job for the people. They were so pro-LUS, they didn't give much coverage to any opposing views other than the government's criticism of those views.

And, that's why they have been in Court so frequently since the July 2005 vote. They want to use money from the municipal utility to cross-subsize the losses of the communications division. Not only does that violate the Fair Competition Act (which they heralded as model legislation when it passed), but it would create higher utility rates for the rate payers, even if they don't use the services.

By the way, LUS is the utility provider for the City of Lafayette, Louisiana and publicly-owned. It is governed by LPUA, which is made up of the five elected Councilmen who are from the City of Lafayette and who also sit on the nine-member elected Lafayette Parish Council. No other utility is allowed to provide electric, water or sewer services within the city limits.

"I will use my business as an example. Last year I was paying $400 per month for 1 MG of broadband service and a dedicated IP address.

Today I am paying less than $100 for 6 MEGS and a dedicated IP address."

Perhaps business rates have declined from outrageous to merely exorbitant; but residential rates have not experienced a similar decline that I can see.

I will use my home connection as an example. In 2000 when I signed up for cable internet service, my rate was $42.95/month. Last month, my rate was...$42.95/month.

Better than the $75/month I was paying for an ISDN line in the 1990s, but not exemplary of declining cost of service. And I am now going through my third merger/acquisition in 5 years (1st was TCI being bought by AT&T Broadband; then AT&T Broadband was bought by Comcast; and now Comcast's cable internet service is being bought by Time/Warner). At no point have my costs decreased or service improved due to these mergers. And I still have no alternative source of broadband internet access. Due to technical issues they have refused to address for at least five years, AT&T (formerly SBC) cannot provide me a DSL connection; and there is no public wireless or power line based service provider in this area.

I am faced with a monopoly situation; either pay their high price or forgo the service.

"Much more critical to the overall pricing of these services are the economies of scale that large private companies with a national footprint can amass; technological change and innovation unmatched by utility monopolies; and the bargaining power that allows private companies to command premium content at lower prices than the municipalities can negotiate."

First of all, "commanding premium content" should not be the role of an access provision organization; therefore it is irrelevant to this discussion. The issue at hand is the utter absence of broadband internet in many areas, and substandard or overpriced access in others. "Economies of scale" apparently did not enable telecom giant BellSouth to provide broadband access to the residents of Lafayette anytime soon, so I have to wonder at their efficacy. "Technological change and innovation" are similarly irrelevant when the situation is the complete absence of broadband technology in the first place. I guess if you don't have the technology, it can't become obsolete...

You're very well-spoken but your arguments aren't persuasive. ESPECIALLY in cases like Lafayette's, if the citizens are willing to foot the bill to establish a municipal access provision service I see no reason they should be prevented from doing so. BellSouth's lawsuits and legislation are the typical dog-in-the-manger approach of a company that is not realizing revenue from a service but doesn't want anyone else realizing any benefit from it either.

If the corporations currently providing internet services are not willing to provide services that there consumers desire and the local municipality and the people of the community are wiling to pay for it then the answer is quite simple. The corporations should step up to the plate and do it or get out of the way.

Yes, I think that if local media companies are not willing to offer a service, the local government has EVERY right and a duty to provide for their community. We desperatly need to break the stranglehold of the media conglomerates and free ourselves.

Based on my experience with a Community Wireless network I founded, the non profit West Virginia Broadband, I would have to say the sad state of affairs with America's connectivity has much to do with poor policymaking and less to do with technology. The six communities our network covers enjoy 10 megabits of internet, without restrictions, for on average 12 dollars per month. Volunteers run the system, and most seem to be fairly happy with it. An odd array of community groups helped to build the network, one Saturday afternoon at a time, and soon enough we have a fast, reliable internet solution out in the middle of nowhere. I encourage others to investigate options their community may have available to them, including wireless. Listen to NPR's All Things Considered cover the project, you'll get a kick out of it. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5053488

- Mike

Thanks Bill Moyers for the heads up on net neutrality!! I wasn't up on this serious issue before your program.
Are there any obvious places or people in NJ to whom I can send an e mail or phone with my concern?

I just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and I hope that it inspires people to contact their representatives. Equal access soley holds up our Democracy at this point in time. We need to protect it!

I joined over 20,000 other Marylanders in signing a petition presented to our Senator Mikulski expecting her to keep the internet highway an open road for access to all. She has yet to make public her position,an indication of the pressure she must be under from the media giants.

Apparently Lafayette has within its borders honest public officials that are willing to take risk for the common good. What is needed throught this great nation is a big dose of honesty in government and decency in the business world to restore the briliancy of a nation.

The mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, recently announced that he is giving Wi-Fi access to the city of Boston. I think this is a great idea, so that people in the community can have access to information either not available elsewhere, or if people are low income and cant acces higher speed content like video, can login to the wi-fi- network and see it.

Internet competitiveness is internet dualopoly and that does not serve the American people. There is no way to justify controlling community owned broadband other than to guaranty fee controlled access by utility companies and ultimately serve the Bush administrations propaganda war's purpose to guarantee media smokescreens and the shrinking of the American mind.

my first concern is with a vibrant and free press. i'm a writer, editor, and have a small web site that may one day be a local magazine -- an e-zine. i've been in community journalism for more than 20 years and have seen good local newspapers i worked for gobbled up by large companies that saw them as an opportunity to create regional advertising districts rather than as opportunities to provide a necessary public benefit and support democracy in america.
the "common carriage" issue resonated with me for many reasons, but mostly i care about the incredible power of the 'net to communicate information and promote free speech. that in itself is enough to desperately want the internet to remain free of 'gatekeepers.'
the program was rivetting. mr. moyers, mr. mcchesney, and so many others who provided their perspective were wonderful. that louisiana radio guy is wonderful. i hope he gets to fix his home.


What seems to be important in this debate is the government's role in the delivery of those services. Since when are we for the government having more control over our daily activities?

You need to ask yourself these questions. Are you comfortable with the government choosing your television programming? Are you comfortable with the government as your Internet provider with access to your every move?

Most people who want these services want them for little or no money. They don't care if their neighbors, including people who can barely afford their electricity, help pay for them.

Again, anyone who wants a service should pay for it. However, anyone who doesn't shouldn't be responsible for paying their neighbor's bill.

Government run communications divisions rely on subsidies from the very people they serve. In another arena it would be called a tax, a very large tax.

Just want to make sure you all know that there's a live discussion going on right now with Mike McCurry of Hands off the Internet and Ben Scott of Save The Internet representing both sides of the debate - http://www.pbs.org/moyers/citizensclass/2006/10/post.html

So get your questions in there!

Without question, losing net neutrality would be a disaster, not only from the perspective of censorship and control but also from the introduction of telco/cable based proprietary technolgies needed by theses companies to gain control over the web, thus balkanizing the net and turning the US into a backwater filled with the kind of crap we see from the AT$Ts and Cablevisions of the world telling us about the wonders of 500 channels, 450 of which are of little interest to most intelligent human beings. People want unfettered access, nothing more, nothing less. Common carrier rules should apply to the web as it applies to roads and railroads whereby you pay a flat fee for a given speed of access without restriction as to where you want to go on the web. This mode of operation works for content providers as well because the Googles of the world already pay AT&T millions to get access to the net based on bandwidth they use without the double dipping bs carriers lust for to gain unearned profits at the expense of all who use the internet.

If Congress does the deed and eliminates net neturality, then the golden goose will surely die and the US will be bypassed and looked at as a country that has lost it's way and has opteed to become a bystander as society moves further into the connected world of the 21st century.

I live in a rural part of the USA, and my ONLY choice for internet is dial up. Cable companies, and telephone companies won't bring cable service into my town because there aren't enough customers to make it profitable for them!! Since when did the customer become wrong? It is very frustrating, because 200 feet from my house there is a T1 line, put in for schools and libraries, but we are prohibited from using it due to state law. To leave rural areas out of the information fast lane because it is not profitable to the phone & cable companies, while I am still charged full fees for telephone service, is discriminatory. Young adults are leaving my state. If we had "fast" internet everywhere in my state, perhaps we could attract our young adults to stay and start businesses. So, I equate the ideals of net neutrality with fast access together. As a country, we should demand that our legislatures, federal and state, introduce legislation that would allow municipalities or other small businesses to offer and provide fast internet connections or wireless access and ensure net neutrality in competiton with the telecommunications companies who are supposed to be providing us "services" for a fee. the telecommunications companies should also be held accountable for an infrastructure that was promised but never built. Capitalism is supposed to spur innovation and competition. I do not see any of these ideals at work in my mostly rural state.

julie said: What seems to be important in this debate is the government's role in the delivery of those services. >>>

i consider the LOCAL government to be me and my neighbors. i have very little concern over me and my neighbors getting to gether to provide services for ourselves. i believe in a free press to keep an eye on what me and my neighbors charge our government SERVANTS to do in our name. i'm much more concerned about corporate executives deciding what i will have access to. their motivation has little to do with serving the public and more to do with gaining the most control and most profit. i'm in business for myself. i have no objection to profit. but i'm a believer in people working together for the common good, since we are something like 6 billion strong on a small planet, and if we don't work together, we'll die together.
i'm not a libertarian.

julie asked: Since when are we for the government having more control over our daily activities? >>>

see, it's more like me believing we should have more control over our government and make it do what we want. and i want broadband internet access and a free flow of information over that network.

julie said: You need to ask yourself these questions. Are you comfortable with the government choosing your television programming? >>>

you think you know exactly what questions i need to ask. amazing.

julie asked: Are you comfortable with the government as your Internet provider with access to your every move?>>>

you think it's better to have Choice Point collecting data on me and selling it to someone? i don't get to oversee choice point. if i keep my government in my service -- as an extension of me and my community working together -- i'm not afraid of it. it's when it jumps into the pocket of huge corporations and wealthy individuals who think they're entitled to buy government responsiveness that i get nervous. i'm way more scared of private companies than public entities.

julie said: Most people who want these services want them for little or no money. They don't care if their neighbors, including people who can barely afford their electricity, help pay for them.>>>

i'm a socialist. i think my community should find ways to make business profitable IN ADDITION to making it supportive of the culture that promotes and undergirds it. i think we need to make sure people don't have to choose between groceries and electricity to light their homes, or fuel to heat them. i have no problem with some of my labor serving to ensure the education of my neighbor's children, or the welfare of their infirm family members, or the needs of those who have fewer resources to provide life's necessities. i believe that's part of the social contract, and they'll educate my kids and be sure my infirm family members are humanely treated, and poor members of my family don't go cold or hungry.
i like the idea of group effort for the good of the group, with a clear respect for the individual. i'm not a libertarian. i'm a socialist.

julie said: Again, anyone who wants a service should pay for it. >>>

i believe that, too, but how is the question? just by earning a living (or scratching one) and doling out some scarce resources for necessities? or by participating in a society that makes sure its members have what they need to thrive?

julie said: However, anyone who doesn't shouldn't be responsible for paying their neighbor's bill.>>>

you say that as though it were axiomatic or something. it's your opinion. i disagree that it's "paying their neighbor's bill." i think it's taking care of the needs of our socieity so our civilization doesn't degrade back to the age of feudalism and barbarism.

julie said: Government run communications divisions rely on subsidies from the very people they serve. >>>

sounds like paying your own bills, to me.

julie said: In another arena it would be called a tax, a very large tax.>>>

i'm not a fan of taxes (especially regressive taxes), but i'm not afraid of them if they buy services for my community.

Julie, are you the person that is still sueing Lafayette to stop fiber optic? If you are, you are costing Lafayette not only money being thrown away on court costs but you are haulting business opportunities for the people of Lafayette and most importantly progress. If the citizens of Lafayette voted for this plan, who are you to say that the citizens are not informed about what they voted for. If you don't want fiber optics at your home the answer is simple. MOVE TO ANOTHER STATE. I wonder if Cox or Bellsouth is funding the court cost via the one citizen that is sueing Lafayette? When I use to have Cox, I not only got poor reception, but every time they wanted to increase their rates, they took away from basic cable so that you had to purchase a more expensive package. I would rather stick up rabbit ears than give Cox any more money. And I find it strange that they no sooner increased its fees again that they started building a multi million dollar office in Lafayette. No wonder they don't want competition. Oh yeah, you stated that the five elected Councilman from the City of Lafayette govern the LPUA and are also on the City Council. So what. Yes it is true that no other electric company can provide service in Lafayette, well I would trade Lafayette Utilities with Entergy any day. I do not have a choice which utility company I have and I have higher rates that Lafayette. If the electric companies would let you choose like the cell phone companies then maybe prices would be lower. So, let the people of Lafayette be allowed to receive the service that they were allowed to vote for and once again, you don't have to live there if you don't want the service.

At least Scott Cleland identified himself as a self-interested contender in this debate. Whereas Julie Calzone--who is patently a corpoRat info-bunny--erected the pretense of being an otherwise disinterested citizen whose alliegance was only coincidentally tied to the exercise of corporate hegemony and control over the last available means of the meaningful expression of public sentiment unmediated by corporate ideology. C'mon, Julie, tell us who's paying you for your advocacy...

As some of the prior commentators have noted, community broadband wireless networks (both public and private) are springing up across the nation. This was a glaring omission from the program. I also was curious about the experiments of the electric utilities to deliver net access via the power lines. Whatever happened to that?

Hi konopelli/wgg,

No one is paying me to express my opinions today.

It is not a secret in Lafayette, LA that I worked in opposition to the LUS Fiber to the Home Plan from July 2004 through the election in July 2005.

What's interesting to note is that I was in favor or the project until I studied the issue as part of a group representing a taxing district. After attending several meetings and presentations and conducting my own research, I felt that another view was not being represented.

Most people would walk away from it, especially since there were negative repercussions for affiliating with any one or any business that was opposed to the idea.

What got me into it was that I believe that government is on a slippery slope when it provides the same services as the the private sector. Where does it stop? Internet. TV. Advertising. Law. Retail.

I find it surprising that people are so pro-government control. Since when do we want public entities to have more of our money to do with as they wish? I thought that was the least efficient means to conduct business. It limits choice, not expands it.

Nothing is stopping Lafayette from building the pipeline and opening up to competition from everyone and everywhere.

Oh yes, my client was BellSouth. I am proud to have been in the trenches with them. I learned that the company is a group of the finest men and women I have ever worked with in my career. They really do try to do the right thing.

Take a look around you. They are your neighbors and the families who pay taxes in your community. No one should be discounted the way these men and women were.

I am not the person suing Lafayette. I don't have anything to do with that suit. I don't even know that person.

Once again, I am all for fiber. Just not the plan that's been proposed.

Thank you for asking.

julie: What got me into it was that I believe that government is on a slippery slope when it provides the same services as the private sector. >>>

the private sector can provide all services, so which ones should they have a lock on? our current administration in washington wants it to run prisons, schools, and many parts of our military (cooks, motor pools, transportation of goods in theaters of war, who-knows-what-all). so maybe the government should get out of the business of doing anything, since the private sector COULD do it all. including fight our wars.
as for the internet, there's lots and lots of room for private sector activity with public access in the mix. there's no end to the private stores that line the public roadways. and i'm even aware of some private carriers operating on the public roads (taxis, charter buses, limos, bicycle delivery guys). no metaphor carries indefinitely, but your comments sound pat - like statements of some principle - and yet are full of holes in logic if looked at a little more closely. like that one about public/private sector spheres, you make statements of choice or preference, not necessity.

julie said: Where does it stop? Internet. TV. Advertising. Law. Retail.>>>

it stops where we say it stops. if we quit talking about the government as something that goes on in spite of us rather than at our bidding -- and if we find SOME way to prevent lobbyists from writing our laws and buying our representatives' votes, since lobbyists are in the employ of private entities who have only their own and their shareholders interests, not the general good, in mind -- we would have less reason to worry about where it all ends. internet access, as mentioned on bill moyers' program, meets the "public infrastructure" test for me. i like public infrastructure to be addressed and responsive to the public first, not considered secondary to the interests of shareholders.
i said it before, i'm not afraid of government by me and my neighbors -- of, by and for the people. i'm real leery of government of, by, and for lobbyists and their employers.

julie: I find it surprising that people are so pro-government control. >>>

do you have a "grover norquist view" of government? i hear he said there is no 'we' in government. dunno what he thinks of "we the people" but *I* kind like that phrase ...

julie: Since when do we want public entities to have more of our money to do with as they wish?>>>

no! no! to do with as WE tell them! since when do i want corporations to have more of my money to do with as THEY wish? why doesn't the question resonate with you in one direction and not the other?

julie: I thought that was the least efficient means to conduct business.>>>

not always. that's a canard. public (government) programs *can* be very successful and efficient (if my source is correct, government administered health insurance costs something like 4% for administration. private insurance -- on the order 25% ? -- a different subject, but in response to your comment).
but setting that aside, government can be the very efficient means to provide *infrastructure* like roads, water, electricity, for all of us, and usually is ...

julie: Take a look around you. They [private companies] are your neighbors and the families who pay taxes in your community.>>>

and the people in your government are what, chopped liver? who put them there? not your community? who guides their decisions? not your community? Bell South is the benevolent group who have your best interest at heart, even though their fiduciary responsibility is not to you but to shareholders? strange, curly-cue logic, it seems to me.

julie: No one should be discounted the way these men and women were.>>>

discounted, or disagreed with?

Not only do I enjoy watching the programs that are presented but I also love the music at the end of the show. I did not see any music credits though. Would you be able to send me via e-mail the artist and composition title for the instrumental intro and exit as the credits roll? Kudos to Bill and the staff at On America. Bravo! and Thank You.

Cities and towns must take the lead and build a high speed internet for everyone. The so-called telcom companies will not buiild the necessary infastructure- their objective is to close down the internet. see www.hoodsale.com

What would a group of community members from groups least likely to have broadband access now recommend about whether cities should get involved in providing it, and if so, how they should use it to close the digital divide?

A recent consensus conference at Santa Clara University, in Silicon Valley, asked just that. You might be surprised at some of the community panel's recommendations.

To see the recommendations, go to http://broadbandforall.org.

im confused

im more confused than the korean

i'm not very confused at all. i think communities should be involved in and pro-active about seeing to it that broadband is made available to as many people as possible. and the conference and recommendations posted at broabandforall.com is gratifying.

during the program an analogy was made between internet access and ports and highways.seems to me , you need a boat to access ports, you need a car to access highways. seems to me access to the internet is like access to education. if one knows how to think, one can learn anything.seems like access ought to be a right. i keep thinking about the inequities in our public schools .to this day ,separate and unequal . i agree that the internet is the new town square, linking this in my mind to free speech.i dont think telcom's and cable companies should have their duopoly.they are only interested in profit.i have dsl. i try hard to keep it as i see it as my pathway to learning new skills and remaining economically viable.if government {meaning We The People} involvement
will increase competition isn't that something people usually think of as "good for the consumer?" is it my imagination or is the FCC doing a poor job of protecting our airwaves? don't We The People own the highway? did i hear right ? did NPR lobby against low power radio?

Last update: October 19, 2006 – 11:04 PM
St. Louis Park: Wi-Fi powered by sun in sight
St. Louis Park looks ready to OK a citywide wireless Internet network run on solar energy.

Joy Powell, Star Tribune
St. Louis Park is poised to become the first city in the nation to provide all its residents with access to solar-powered, wireless Internet service.

The service, which could start as soon as next fall if approved as expected, would be powered by about 400 solar panels -- each about the size of a stop sign -- suspended 20 to 30 feet in the air on public rights-of-way such as roadsides. The panels would connect to batteries storing the solar power and to radio nodes that would send and receive signals from computers.

The project's solar-panel manufacturer analyzed weather data to figure out how much sun St. Louis Park receives each month. The solar panels and batteries are designed to recharge even on cloudy days, said Tom Asp, lead engineer for the city's consulting firm, Columbia Telecommunications Corp.

"The company that designs these solar panels has been doing this for more than 10 years," Asp said, adding that the technology has been proven to be "extremely reliable." The technology is employed in the solar-powered signs used for years by the state Department of Transportation.

St. Louis Park expects to enter a public-private partnership with ARINC of Maryland, which would install, run and maintain the system's infrastructure, with an initial investment of $3.3 million from the city. St. Louis Park also is negotiating with Internet provider Unplugged Cities of Fridley.

The City Council is expected to vote Nov. 6 on final approval for the project.

"We are excited at the possibility of being the first in the nation to deploy a solar-powered citywide Wi-Fi network," said Clint Pires, director of technology and support services for St. Louis Park.

So far, 300 customers have been involved in pilot tests of the Wi-Fi network, which isn't yet hooked up to capture the sun's energy.

Once the entire system is operational, customers might need to lease or buy a "bridge" device, depending on their computer. Customers would pay monthly fees of about $15 for 128 kilobytes, or $20 for 1 megabyte service, which is eight times faster, Asp said.

The new public-private network would fill gaps not being met by private servers of high-speed Internet access, officials said Thursday.

Homeowner Phillip Hogland, a software engineer, has taken part in the pilot testing and has helped the city solve glitches. "I'm getting the promised 1 megabyte per second," he said.

Initially he was skeptical. Hogland said, but he's now convinced that the sun-powered network will benefit consumers.

Computer users could stay connected even during power outages as long as their computers have battery backup, Asp said.

Unlike conventional wireless networks, he said, the solar-powered system does not have to be connected to the main electrical grid.

"It's a cost-saving alternative to traditional powering resources," Pires said. "We're expecting to save $40,000 to $50,000 a year by using solar and avoiding standard electricity."

Solar power for wireless Internet service has been used before in limited applications, such as in downtown Boulder, Colo., but never citywide, Asp said.

The network is expected to last five years and include upgrades, though the city would need to reinvest after that when it probably would want new technologies anyway, Asp said.

Joy Powell • 612-673-7750 • jpowell@startribune.com

©2006 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

if the cities don't take the lead, then who will?

the phone companies just take the money and sell to the next phone company who does the same thing and so on. It has happened 4 times in hood river, oregon so far

will they ever learn?

here we cannot get good internet, TV, radio, or even telephone. The company said that they would build the best infastructure for raised costs and monopoly. Once they got those gurantees, they sold to another phone company. This has happened 4 times so far and we have yet had any improvment other than new phone company buildings.

This was hood river oregon, but it seems to be going on all over. The goverment must make its own high speed internet to get those services and at a lower cost.

if not the goverment, then who?

Credit where credit is due. The Lafayette leadership is energized to get off their tail and simply get it done.

I for one respect them for this. We all know that the vast majority of communities never get past the "discovery" phase.

& they make good boudin too.

I wish to thank Bill Moyers and the many contributors to his presentation. Those who filled in the blanks that escaped Bill's scrutiny, answered questions I had and some that I had not the wit to raise. Bravo, all!

I wish that Julie and Scott had been given the courtesy of a fair hearing. I am ashamed that some of my fellow bloggers have such touchy hair triggers and express their distain with such rude ad hominen attacks. Pity!

Excellent programs regarding the Internet. We all benefit enormously from the internet and the fact that it is there. To limit access to something so vital to nearly everyone's existence by big monopolies is a tragedy. I hope that when this election is over, all of us can get on the horn and try to get our "esteemed legislators" to try to fix this. Thank you Bill Moyers and PBS for bringing us information we don't seem to get elsewhere.

Communities should have the right to develop their own community built network. Why must everything in America be privatized? Big companies have to be stopped. It is the FCC’s responsibility to protect the right of the American people. Ensuring that the internet continues to be a place where all can have access is necessary. Many across the nation depend on the internet and its access.
Many communities do not have the ability to maintain broadband service in their area. I feel that it a good idea that communities are encouraged to create their own community built network. Americans should have the right to have access to the internet, just like there is access to public utilities.
Local governments should not have to seek special permission to provide access board band to their communities. Internet is a civic right that all American’s should have. Once the internet becomes a business of making money, having the service will become a luxury that in reality most American’s cannot afford. Controlling the internet is just another way the government wants to control the American people. The American way of life should not be dictated and controlled by huge corporations that are only in the business of making a profit.

Access to wireless Internet should be a civic right! We should not let those with the deep pockets; corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers get preferred status treatment. If we allow them to go on with their plans, all of us from content providers to individual users would pay extra to surf online or even send and receive e-mail.
We cannot afford to have the Internet’s future placed in the hands of those who want to set limits on the number of downloads and how many emails are sent or received. It is important for Congress and the FCC to hear from individuals and organizations that actually use the Internet. We must communicate to our local representatives how important an open, free Internet is to our education, work, and life and how the Internet must be operated as a public trust, not a private investment.
Did you know that these threats to Internet freedom could affect you in the following ways?
· Google users—Another search engine could pay dominant Internet providers like AT&T to guarantee the competing search engine opens faster than Google on your computer.
· Innovators with the "next big idea"—Startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay Internet providers for dominant placing on the Web. The little guy will be left in the "slow lane" with inferior Internet service, unable to compete.
· Ipod listeners—A company like Comcast could slow access to iTunes, steering you to a higher-priced music service that it owned.
· Political groups—Political organizing could be slowed by a handful of dominant Internet providers who ask advocacy groups to pay "protection money" for their websites and online features to work correctly.
· Nonprofits—A charity's website could open at snail-speed, and online contributions could grind to a halt, if nonprofits can't pay dominant Internet providers for access to "the fast lane" of Internet service.
· Online purchasers—Companies could pay Internet providers to guarantee their online sales process faster than competitors with lower prices—distorting your choice as a consumer.
· Small businesses and tele-commuters—When Internet companies like AT&T favor their own services, you won't be able to choose more affordable providers for online video, teleconferencing, Internet phone calls, and software that connects your home computer to your office.
· Parents and retirees—Your choices as a consumer could be controlled by your Internet provider, steering you to their preferred services for online banking, health care information, sending photos, planning vacations, etc.
· Bloggers—Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clips—silencing citizen journalists and putting more power in the hands of a few corporate-owned media outlets.
Check out how some companies plan to discriminate on line: According to the Washington Post:
William L. Smith, chief technology officer for Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp., told reporters and analysts that an Internet service provider such as his firm should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc.
He's not alone. Ed Whitacre of AT&T told Business Week last fall:
Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?
If they get their way, they'll close down the free stream of information and dictate how we will use the Internet.

Did you know, there are a million petition signatures collected via the SavetheInternet.com Coalition Web site? Let’s increase that number and join the fight. We the people should be involved in the discussion on how the future of the Internet unfolds.

I agree with the person above who said if not the government then who? If our own government wont protect us on this issue then no one will. It is important that everyone lets the peoeple in charge know how the people feel on this issue.

i believe that the net neutrality fight at some point will be a victory for the people fighting for it. with internet access available at much cheaper rates abroad the US is bound to make internet access free and fair. Although co-orprate companies fight for net superiority, there will be a time in the future where all internet acess will be at one free and fair rate

Another voice in this debate which I believe covers all concerns is the Communication Workers of America's (the Union that represents telcom workers) campaign called SPEED MATTERS: . They have 5 principles. The major focus is that America needs high speed affordable internet for all. If the high speed, high capacity networks were built, even if the companies were allowed to reserve a portion for their own video bandwidth, there would be more than enough capacity for everyone to have unrestricted, high speed access. Their principles require and open internet and consumer protections, but they also encourage investment.

You might want to check out ConnectKentucky. Instead of building it themselves, their "Prescription for Innovation is a comprehensive broadband deployment and adoption plan that will leverage state, federal and private investment to blanket Kentucky with high-speed Internet access." Their first task was to create an accurate map of what is available, at what speeds and what cost and then work on how to connect every part of the state. They have a good website at http://www.connectkentucky.org.
You chose one model to highlight but there are others that are just as interesting and creative.

I am tired of political candidates who say they are for change but then continue down the same path to get elected. Thus nothing changes!

I Paul Nevin want to change polotics; My opponents all have massive war chests to be elected. I will try to become elected with no money. I don't know if voters are ready for such a candidate yet; someday they will when they are fed up enough with the current do nothing goverment

I think it is great how the citizens of Lafayette came together for something they believed in. Too bad it is tied up in court after the people have spoken.

I found this very interesting..i think net neutrality is an important subject that will affect the future in a big way..i'll most def be staying tuned 2 this web site 2 keep me updated..i also plan on doin my own research.... shout out 2 tha squad..1

We need to upgrade to the fiberoptics for faster speed. America is behind other nations in technology (in the internet) and needs to pick up. America started the internet, so it should be ranked first. The cost should come out of the companies that said they would do it (the phone companies). They got tax reductions so that they could put money into fiberoptics but they just kept the money instead. Somone needs to do something about this!

Update to fiber optic cables. Japan has 100 Mbps internet connections, We have 10 mbps, max in a household (albeit a rich household). If other countries can have 100 mbps for $40, why are we stuck at 5 Mbps for that same price. Cities need to step up and take control of the internet connections and the speed. Corporatins aren't doing s*** to help us do better against other countries in terms of advancing technology.

I think that if there is a faster Internet then everyone should be able to use it. People spend way to much time on their computers doing work and if the damn Internet was faster people wouldn't be wasting their precious time that could be spent doing things worth while. Like spending time with kids or hanging out with friends. The government needs to step up and make the faster Internet available to everyone.

Excuse, that I interfere, but, in my opinion, this theme is not so actual.

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As a business, knowing your way around an internet is a must in 2011. I would go for a cheap T1 Connection :)

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