Wi-Fi Rumble Redux
The New York Times has a major story in its Thursday editions on the big rumble in Philadelphia over the municipal plan to deploy citywide Wi-FI. The story cuts right to the chase on the debate between public and private network development:
But Philadelphia's plan has prompted a debate over who should provide the service, and whether government should compete with private industry, particularly in hard-to-reach rural areas or low-income urban communities. Telecommunications and cable companies say that municipal Internet networks will not only inhibit private enterprise, but also result in poor service and wasted tax dollars. They have mounted major lobbying campaigns in several states to restrict or prohibit municipalities from establishing their own networks.Personally, I'm really glad to see the Cato Institute's so concerned about the danger of "lazy public utilities." I'm sure they're voicing the same concern about competition-averse, unresponsive private telecom, too.
"This is a growing trend, but an ominous and disturbing one," said Adam Thierer, director of telecommunications studies at the libertarian Cato Institute and the author of a soon-to-be-released study criticizing the Philadelphia plan. "The last thing I'd want to see is broadband turned into a lazy public utility."