WBS: PC World

What’s Being Said (WBS) Dept.

PC World carries the story “ISPs Attempt to Stop Public Broadband: Cable and DSL providers battle cities that want to offer access to residents” that pretty much outlines the position of the network providers:

The municipal Internet trend is irking giants such as Bell South, Comcast, SBC, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon Communications.

They’re irked…that’s one way of putting it; someone’s got a gift for understatement. But Joey Durel has a different way of characterizing the issue according to the story:

Lafayette, Louisiana, mayor Joey Durel says that his city ‘begged’ its phone and cable companies for years to wire it with fiber-optic access–to no avail. The city now plans to build its own fiber network, but Bell South and Cox Communications have filed court motions to stop the plan.

‘The practices of corporate America are hurting communities like Lafayette,’ he says.

Lafayette demonstrates that towns like North Kansas City, Missouri can fight the telecoms and win. That town is currently being sued by Time-Warner Cable; that its case was quickly dismissed by the court seems to matter little to the corporation and Time-Warner is pursuing an appeal. Probably Time-Warner hopes they can sue North Kansas City into submission by using its effectively unlimited funds to keep the town mired in courtrooms while draining the city’s coffers. It’s cases like this, even more than our own situation in Lafayette that make passage of some sort of federal pro-muni protection like Lautenberg-McCain so necessary. Small towns may simply not have the resources to resist even the most clearly frivolous attacks.