Every Man a King

Yesterday the Washington Post printed a story with this lede:

The federal government wants to create super WiFi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month.

It’s pretty much wrong. The government isn’t going to “create” WiFi networks, it’s talking about allocating some of the spectrum freed up by the switch to digital television (called “white space“) for unlicensed Internet use. In other words, your home or coffee shop WiFi uses certain frequencies to “talk” to your laptop or other devices, and you or Starbucks don’t need a license to use those frequencies. The FCC is thinking about allowing WiFi devices to use other frequencies. Unlike current WiFi, which transmits in a range of dozens or a hundred yards, this new white space would allow transmission for a few miles. But, just as with your coffee shop wireless, someone’s going to have to build this network. Just having the spectrum doesn’t mean Internet magically appears.

Also, too, this is nothing new. It’s been kicking around since 2007. Companies that don’t own wireless networks, like Google and Microsoft, are all for it. Companies like AT&T hate it, because towns and cities could create relatively inexpensive WiFi networks and give away WiFi, thus undercutting the all-orifice financial rape that constitutes the cell phone providers’ business model.

So, I guess technically some “government” somewhere could allow consumers to make calls or surf the Internet without paying, but it’s not going to be the national government, and the wireless carriers are going to fight like hell at the local level to stop it from happening. The simple fact that it’s now February 2013, four years after the analog-to-digital TV switch freed up this spectrum, and no white space Internet has been approved should tell you something about the kind of fight that’s been going on between the different corporate giants involved. If you want to read more on this, try here, here and here.

85 replies
  1. 1

    I’m more and more convinced we should nationalize all of the utilities and all of the energy corporations.

  2. 2
    lige says:

    If this actually happened it might make up (a little) for the terrible quality of broadcast digital television. Didn’t the cable companies already make out like bandits on that little switcheroo?

  3. 3
    Narcissus says:

    I’m more and more convinced we’re living in the hellish dystopic alternate reality of a really awesome place

  4. 4
    Chyron HR says:

    Silly liberals. America can’t have first-world infrastructure, because nobody would get rich off of it.

  5. 5
    c u n d gulag says:

    I’m for anything to keep those pig cable, phone, and cell-phone companies from taking every last penny their customers (if you can call the victims of monopoly economics “customers”) have.

  6. 6
    Scott S. says:

    @Narcissus: This. The only real difference between our reality and some of the more grim cyberpunk sci-fi is the lack of cool cyberware.

  7. 7
    RP says:

    You’re all missing the most important part of this story: It’s wrong. There’s no specific proposal, and, as mm noted, the federal government certainly wouldn’t be creating the networks. So why did the Post print this?

  8. 8
    MomSense says:

    It’s like the 21st century version of talking on “the busy”. Anyone else remember that? I know I’m not dreaming it because my sister remembers too. We would call different numbers that were supposedly used by the phone company to check telephone lines when they did service calls. People from all over would call into these lines and we would talk in between the busy signal.

    But anything that undermines the cell phone companies is fine with me. Every time I hear anti government sentiment I wonder if they have never had to deal with a cable, cell, or health insurance company. Also, too Bank of America–they have to be the most maddening, inefficient, collection of incompetence and greed ever created.

  9. 9
    redshirt says:

    Yeah right, free Government wifi! More like “Ways to spy on my brain by The Man”.

    I know you’re in there!

  10. 10
    Zifnab25 says:

    @Comrade Dread: I don’t think we benefit from nationalization. That said, I can definitely see a case for breaking up businesses between the various layers of network. Like, you can’t own both the pipes and the routers, and you have to have a flat rate for access that doesn’t discriminate between purchasers.

    The vertical monopoly is what’s really screwing up the market. There’s no reason a company like AT&T or Comcast should own the physical wires, the routers, AND the content.

  11. 11
    Cassidy says:

    OBAMAPHONES! OBAMAPHONES!

    Great, another round of chain emails I’m going to have to listen to my ignorant wingnut classmates talk about. I’m still mocking the Beyonce lip-syncing idiocy.

  12. 12
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Zifnab25: Maybe I’m not paying attention, but what content does AT&T own?

  13. 13
    MomSense says:

    @RP:

    For the same reason they post all the other BS, almost true but not quite crap.

    They don’t really care about true or accurate–they just report what people are saying–and by people I mean other villagers who only talk with each other in a closed loop of self-importance.

  14. 14
    catclub says:

    “I guess technically some “government” somewhere”

    Not North Carolina, the Telecoms got a law passed forbidding local governments from doing just that.

  15. 15
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Zifnab25: Oh, and in the broken-up model, how do the companies that own and manage the core get paid? What’s the business model?

  16. 16
    RP says:

    The Post is awful. It’s depressing that this is the biggest paper in Washington, DC.

  17. 17
    Robert says:

    It’s an attempt to combat spectrum crunch, aka “Oh crap, why can’t I send a text-based e-mail? What do you mean too many people are using the Internet?” It’s an important topic that is being misrepresented all over the place.

  18. 18
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Texas, in one of the few fits of sanity, has done this with electricity. Oncor owns the hardware, and TXU and Reliant provide the power to the customers. Prices have come down dramatically, and yet we all know that there’s one company you talk to for problems. I believe the state regulates the Oncor part – how much they can charge, reliability, etc – and the the top two parts are charged by Oncor.

  19. 19
    kindness says:

    I want my Free Stuff! Why else do you think I voted for the Muslim Kenyan Socialist Tyrant?

  20. 20
    Shinobi says:

    I spend a lot of time playing video games and trying to explain to people that the word “rape” does not actually mean being killed in a video game.

    So for the record, it also does not mean being vastly overcharged for internet and phone service.

    I understand that it’s and edgy and visceral word to use, but it has a real horrible visceral meaning that is really real for all too many people. It would be nice if we could let it just mean that.

  21. 21
    jayackroyd says:

    It’s obviously good public policy to pull fiber to every post office, and provide grants for local jurisdictions to implement wireless connectivity.

    Especially now, when the US can borrow money for free. But, as I just said over at atrios’ place, obviously good public policy is decidedly hard to implement.

    (Likewise, there should be a Fed ATM in every post office, with every adult holding a Fed account.)

  22. 22
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    thus undercutting the all-orifice financial rape that constitutes the cell phone providers’ business model.

    200+ a month for me and the wife. And we both need the web access for work – and of course work won’t pay for it.

    That said, I can definitely see a case for breaking up businesses between the various layers of network.

    @Zifnab25: Oh, so can I. It allows for even more rapists to get in on the action.

    We tried this in California with electricity. My bill went from about $35 a month to $150 a month and there’s no end in sight for how far they’re going to let it climb.

    Back to cell phones, I finally bought stock in Verizon and AT&T. Figured if I’m going to get raped I might as well get a little back. So far this has not been a winning stratagem.

  23. 23
    Culture of Truth says:

    The phone companies overcharge to an absurd degree. This is why I will likely buy the unlocked Google phone and go with a monthly plan like T-mobile’s or Ting.

  24. 24
    jayackroyd says:

    @Comrade Dread: Rather, IMO, we should create public sector competition, like the post office vs UPS/FedEx. The public sector provider would be a low bar, but it would set a standard in price and performance that the private sector had to meet.

    For instance, nowadays we don’t really need a competing cable company, but a government internet utility would create a standard that cable companies would have to meet to justify the 150 bucks a month they charge. Or cut prices.

  25. 25
    jayackroyd says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    David Cay Johnston writes about this in his most recent book, The Fine Print

  26. 26
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @jayackroyd: heaven forfend! A public option? Socialism, I daresay.

  27. 27

    @Zifnab25: I don’t know. Living here in California I’m continually getting a new lesson in how the profit motive is not conductive to the public benefit with regards to energy in particular.

    Any time a refinery closes, gas spikes by 30 cents within the week.

    With a public company, the politicians would at least be concerned by the public reaction to those spikes and might invest in excess refinery capacity to handle expected closures without screwing everyone.

    I’ve finally given up and embraced public transportation. Only downside is that I have to get up at 3:45 am.

  28. 28
    gelfling545 says:

    @Shinobi: I agree strongly. There is a proper word for what is happening here. It is “extortion”. It is no wonder that some people get confused about what some words actually, fundamentally mean when they are thrown around for emphasis in inappropriate contexts and thereby trivialized.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    There are things that are “natural monopolies”. These areas need to be regulated to the extent that the CEO of AT&T needs permission from a GS-4 to leave his desk.

  30. 30
    dlwchico says:

    @MomSense: I worked for Blue Shield of California for 8 years or so and whenever I heard somebody talking about ‘inefficient government healthcare’ I’d have to laugh. I’ve never seen a clusterfuck like BSoC’s management anywhere else. I don’t see how a government run organization could be worse.

  31. 31
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:

    Back to cell phones, I finally bought stock in Verizon and AT&T. Figured if I’m going to get raped I might as well get a little back. So far this has not been a winning stratagem.

    This is because raping the stockholders is second only to raping the customers for MBA trained CEOs, who view their positions as that of feudal lords without any of that lame noblesse oblige crap getting in the way of their avarice.

  32. 32
    Nicole says:

    There was a WPA Federal Theater Project play, “Power” about rural electrification and private vs. gov’t control of the power grid, among other things. I saw a revival production of it a few years ago and it was astounding how nothing has changed.

  33. 33
    Cassidy says:

    @Shinobi: @gelfling545: I don’t think we are in danger of anyone not knowing what rape means in this context. Conservatives have already decided they’re going to parse the word for political meat, but it’s fairly insulting to the collective group of people here that we’ll suddenly forget what rape is because an 8 y/o is screaming “stop raping me you fuckin’ camper” over a headset.

    That being said, I’ve asked, and then let it go, that people stop making disparaging remarks re: weight and fat, especially when speaking of Chris Christie as it continues to victimize overweight people who have dealt with a lifetime of bullying and abuse. Some have agreed, some haven’t; is what it is.

  34. 34
    MomSense says:

    @dlwchico:

    I deal with subrogation and would rather deal with Medicare and Medicaid than with some of the insurance companies. I think they are inefficient by design–just hoping people pay for things rather than the hassle of dealing with them.

  35. 35
    cmorenc says:

    @MisterMix:

    Companies that don’t own wireless networks, like Google and Microsoft, are all for it. Companies like AT&T hate it, because towns and cities could create relatively inexpensive WiFi networks and give away WiFi, thus undercutting the all-orifice financial rape that constitutes the cell phone providers’ business model.

    The TelCo companies have already successfully lobbied for laws in several states prohibiting or effectively hamstringing municipalities and other local governments from creating inexpensive high-speed fiber or wi-fi networks. After a half-dozen scattered smaller towns in North Carolina (such as Wilson, NC in the eastern part of the state) had created such networks, the TelCos successfully ushered a law prohibiting any further such instances (grandfathering in the handful of towns who had already established their networks).

    This example in mind, the TelCos will NOT accept this without putting up ferocious resistance. Never mind that the purportedly “high-speed” service they currently offer is lamentably slow and expensive compared to what is available in many other countries the U.S. in in commercial competition with. The classic example the TECLOS don’t want to see repeated with internet service is the establishment of TVA to bring electricity to vast unserved (and underserved) portions of the southeast which the utilities themselves were at the time in no particular hurry to extend (or upgrade) service to. Socialism unfairly competing with private free entrerprise, so they claim.

  36. 36
    MikeJ says:

    @Cassidy: Making fat jokes about Christie is just stupid anyway. Bad politics. All it does is make him sympathetic. I don’t refrain from making fat jokes about him because I like him, or even because it’s the morally right thing to do (and it is), but because I despise him.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @MomSense:

    They don’t really care about true or accurate–they just report what people are saying–and by people I mean other villagers who only talk with each other in a closed loop of self-importance.

    This.

    It’s a lot like high school that way. Alternatively, you can say that high school is a lot like the Village.

    The Villagers. Wipe them out. All of them.

  38. 38
    tmf (formerly tesslibrarian) says:

    @RP: Because Post reporters are idiots who don’t understand what they’re writing about, so they ask their corporate and/or congresscritter sources who give them a summary that makes it sound like Obama is going to put them out of business and destroy America. Same old same old.

  39. 39
    Cassidy says:

    @MikeJ: For me, I figure we’re all “friends” here, moreso than other internet communities. I know some people here struggle with their weight and I feel we’re obligated to not add more emotional criticism to our people, even inadvertently. That’s me, though. I’ve expressed it and others don’t see it that way and life goes on.

    I’m not worried about making him sympathetic or bad politics. A good, long discussion on his treatment of teacher’s unions takes away sympathy. We have him right where we want him and he knows that: Conservative enough to stay “red” and assholish enough to guve us a good soundbite when we need it.

  40. 40
    Billy says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    While the model might seem to be good, and “deregulation” is supposed to save consumers money, TX used to have among the lowest cost per KWh for electricity by state, now it has among the highest.

    We were WAY better off with a regulated monopoly and it doesn’t take a genius to understand why.

  41. 41
    different-church-lady says:

    @lige: I’m curious as to which qualities of broadcast DTV you find terrible: pic quality, reliability of signal, compression, etc? Because compared to analog it’s a hell of a step up, on the whole.

  42. 42
    Seanly says:

    Headline News was spreading this same story. With no facts or attribution.

    I don’t know why I watch that drivel. It’s far worse WRT TV news than USA Today is to print. They peddle the most vapid CW and spend half their time humping the latest Trial of the Century (currently some murder trial with a mildly attractive suspect in the middle of nowhere).

  43. 43
    Shinobi says:

    @gelfling545: Thank you, and now of course it is getting used over and over in the comments.

    I’m sorry that people don’t think “Extortion” is a strong enough word and want to resort to triggering imagery to make a point.

  44. 44
    different-church-lady says:

    @RP: Hell, I didn’t miss it. I’m like, “Screw regulating utilities, we need to regulate reporters.”

  45. 45
    catclub says:

    ON the internet and freedom front, I thought this was interesting – about Anonymous

    http://prospect.org/article/i-.....et-freedom

  46. 46
    Ben Franklin says:

    When I hear the word free, I immediately think what it’s going to cost me.

  47. 47
    HelloRochester says:

    Luckily for the Comcast/Verizon duopoly here in Pennsyltucky, it’s illegal, or rather ILLEGAL, for municipalities in the Commonwealth to build their own WiFi systems because only a communist would want to build infrastructure rather than rely on the Magic Hand of the Free Market!

  48. 48
    Roger Moore says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    I’m more and more convinced we should nationalize all of the utilities and all of the energy corporations.

    Might I suggest that government takeover need not be national? My city has municipal water and power, and they seem to be managed far better than the private companies that serve neighboring cities. I’m willing to bet that the same people who do a good job with water and power would also do a fine job with telephone, cable TV, and internet; it certainly wouldn’t be hard to do better than the current operators.

  49. 49
    different-church-lady says:

    @MomSense:

    But anything that undermines the cell phone companies is fine with me. Every time I hear anti government sentiment I wonder if they have never had to deal with a cable, cell, or health insurance company. Also, too Bank of America–they have to be the most maddening, inefficient, collection of incompetence and greed ever created.

    By putting these different companies in the same context, you put a funny thought in my head: we wrote laws that made it illegal to have one big monpolistic phone company and the result is a bunch of smaller evil giants. Then, in the opposite direction, we got rid of all the laws that kept banks small and we wound up with a bunch of bigger evil giants.

  50. 50
    Shinobi says:

    @Cassidy:
    I know we all know what rape means, but using in in this context waters down the real definition of the word. In my opinion it is like using the N word as a literary device. Rape is something that happens all the time to real women across the world and to act like it is EVEN A LITTLE BIT similar to getting overcharged on something is gross.

    However that is not my only issue with it. It is also possibly triggering to real life rape victims who read this blog. (Especially when we add fun qualifiers to it like “all orifice.”) Not that this is a particularly feminist space but I don’t think the front pagers want to set out to make 1/6 female readers feel unwelcome or triggered when they read this blog.

    I’m just asking that front pagers not use rape as a literary device, since it is something that actually happens to real people who really read this blog and probably don’t want to be reminded as they go about their day.

    I totally agree that people should stop talking shit about fat people especially Chris Christie. I think that is another major social issue that needs to be addressed, here and pretty much everywhere else in society. However, as a fat person, I don’t have to go to the bathroom to hyperventilate when I’m reminded of being fat. The same may not be true of rape victims.

  51. 51
    jayackroyd says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Leaving aside internet access, it’s crazy (from a public policy perspective) that people have to use expensive check cashing services. We HAVE a national bank. People should be able to use it to, at least, clear their paychecks.

  52. 52
    different-church-lady says:

    @Shinobi: You’ve heard of white people problems? Whining about how amazing technology costs dozens of dollars each month is “white people rape.”

  53. 53
    different-church-lady says:

    @MomSense:

    They don’t really care about true or accurate–they just report what people are saying–and by people I mean other villagers who only talk with each other in a closed loop of self-importance.

    You left out the part where they’re too lazy to actually understand what they’re writing about.

  54. 54
    Cassidy says:

    @Shinobi:

    However, as a fat person, I don’t have to go to the bathroom to hyperventilate when I’m reminded of being fat.

    And maybe someone else does. Maybe the emotional trauma of childhood was so soul crushing that as an adult the most normal human interaction they have is on this blog and it pains them to see the same behavior. That wasn’t my point, though.

    I don’t disagree with you and I’m just as guilty of using rape in the same way, although I’m getting better at picking how I say things. All I meant to say was that I don’t think the audience here is going to suddenly not understand what rape really means and means to some people because mistermix has a limited amount of metaphors. As for whether it triggers anything, I don’t know; I’ve never been a victim of sexual violence. From what I understand the event is on one’s mind, regardless, until it is not and I’m not sure the language used here would have that much of an impact one way or another considering how small it seems to the actual assault. But, again as someone who has never been the victim of sexual assault, that’s not an opinion rooted anywhere in experience.

  55. 55

    @Comrade Dread:
    Or at least go back to the civilized model, where they are highly regulated utilities.

    And the banks, also, too.

  56. 56
    Shinobi says:

    @different-church-lady: Uhhhh yeah that phrase doesn’t translate as well as a joke as I think you wanted it too. White people tend to be on the doing end of that verb a little too often I think to make it funny. But that could just be me.

  57. 57
    different-church-lady says:

    @Shinobi: Good thing I don’t do this professionally, huh?

  58. 58
    Shinobi says:

    @Cassidy: I do think that fat hatred is pretty awful, but at this point is so pervasive that you probably could not function well if it bothered you that much. Like, you could not read a single news website, ever. Or watch TV. Or go out in public where people would say things to you like “Put down the twinkies fatty.”

    I’m just saying it would be nice to keep the victims of sexual assault in mind when we use their experiences as literary conventions.

    Do I think anyone is actually going to do that? No.

    But I’m still saying it.

  59. 59
    Shinobi says:

    @different-church-lady: There would already be a twitter mob of feminists chanting for your head. :-)

  60. 60
    Cassidy says:

    @Shinobi: Wait, wait, wait…You mean it’s not all black or brown men wearing ski masks and going “ooga booga” in innocent white women’s windows justifying the hoarding collection of a small army’s worth of guns and ammo to protect the innocent suburbanites from those savage dark people? I could have sworn they were just saying that in a Senate hearing.

  61. 61
    Cassidy says:

    @Shinobi: I get what you’re saying. As someone who hasn’t been the victim of either, my opinion is only that of an outsider, anyway.

  62. 62
    Roger Moore says:

    @MomSense:

    I think they are inefficient by design–just hoping people pay for things rather than the hassle of dealing with them.

    It’s just example eleventy in the ongoing story of how markets do not fix everything. Dealing with customer complaints about overcharging is a guaranteed money loser for the company, so the department that handles it is inevitably too small and staffed by incompetents. Nobody could have predicted that a for-profit company would try to eliminate parts of the company that cost it money.

  63. 63
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): This is analogous to separating content from transport, which is already done to a large degree. Trying to break up the delivery into pieces, as is being proposed here, introduces a lot of pricing complications. Not arguing that they are insurmountable, but it’s easy and facile to say “have different companies own the pipes and the routers” without explaining how the companies that are to own and manage the routers get paid.

  64. 64
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Very nearly the only rule of present-day print journalism is to completely goober up any story dealing with computers.

  65. 65
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore:

    It’s just example eleventy in the ongoing story of how markets do not fix everything.

    Market advocates do not (or refuse to) understand the problems of information asymmetry that inevitably distort their Econ 101 notions about how ‘the market’ is supposed to function. In theory, if everyone involved in a transaction has the same information, yeah, it works wonderfully! The problem is that reality gets in the way. Even that obscure Scotsman I speak of frequently, in his never-read tome, understood this and mentioned it several times…several times more than he mentioned “the invisible hand”, which has captured the simple minds of free marketeers and won’t let go.

    Things like telcom and cable are even more distorted from the free market ideal because of the nature of their operations, particularly the physical restraints that reality puts on how and when they can deliver their services. Even cell phone companies are restricted by the finite electromagnetic spectrum and the need to locate cell towers in strategic places. There’s a lot of “freedom” that is simply not free, period.

  66. 66

    @Shinobi:

    I totally agree that people should stop talking shit about fat people especially Chris Christie.

    But the short jokes about Mitch Daniels every time his name came up were all just okie dokie.

    Amirite?

  67. 67
  68. 68
  69. 69
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Market advocates do not (or refuse to) understand the problems of information asymmetry that inevitably distort their Econ 101 notions about how ‘the market’ is supposed to function.

    It’s a lot more than just information where there can be market distorting asymmetries. The time asymmetry of insurance is also a big deal; you pay them for years with the expectation they’ll still be there for you when you need them. They can then turn around and refuse to deliver on their commitment, secure in the knowledge that they already have your money. Since there’s a power asymmetry, too, they can refuse to live up to their obligations and force you to fight their deep pockets and army of lawyers to get what you paid for, all while you may be dying of whatever it is that they’re refusing to pay for treatment of.

  70. 70
  71. 71
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cassidy:

    Goes double for Dennis Kucinich.

  72. 72
    Maude says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    I can either use Comcast for cable modem internet or CenturyLink for DSL. That’s it. They have got us by the short hairs.
    Last night on Letterman, David kidded Christie about his weight. Christie pulled out a donut and bit into it.
    Christie’s policies stink, but you have respect him for doing that.

  73. 73

    @Cassidy:
    I don’t need your permission to feel.

    But thanks for proving my point, asshole.

  74. 74
  75. 75
    Maude says:

    @jayackroyd:
    #51
    The Federal Reserve is a Central Bank, not a commercial bank. It deals with banks, not customers.
    You can read the Federal Reserve Act.

  76. 76
    different-church-lady says:

    Generally, on the Christie subject: I recommend eschewing fat jokes not because they’re offensive, but because they’re cheap. And in the case of Christie, they’re also probably inversely effective.

    But the problem is that there’s a line to skirt here — social correctness aside, there’s clearly health dangers involved with that kind of physique. We can debate about whether eating too many donuts is a moral failing, but we can’t debate about the health risks. We can avoid making cheap jokes and assumptions about how Christie wound up weighing so much, but we can’t avoid the likelihood that he’s a walking cardiac event waiting to happen.

  77. 77
    Bokonon says:

    @different-church-lady: It is worse than that. I would bet good money that the Washington Post is deliberately reporting things in a misleading way – and skewing the story – based on fact sheets and talking points that were helpfully provided to them by one of the major telecom companies. Big government solutions! Coming to waste your tax dollars!

    I’ve been in the room when this has happened, and I’ve seen reporters do it with my own eyes.

    Running this sort of thing through the Washington Post also ensures syndication around the country (since lots of smaller papers reprint their stories verbatim). Which is all part of the cost-cutting and decline in independent reporting.

    And that is how the game is played.

  78. 78
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Bokonon:

    I would bet good money that the Washington Post is deliberately reporting things in a misleading way – and skewing the story – based on fact sheets and talking points that were helpfully provided to them by one of the major telecom companies

    I would not bet against you on that. Knowing how lazy the Villager culture is, and how local TV news routinely airs, without any disclosure, PR flack footage from various corporations, this is perfectly plausible.

  79. 79
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    So, I guess technically some “government” somewhere could allow consumers to make calls or surf the Internet without paying, but it’s not going to be the national government, and the wireless carriers are going to fight like hell at the local level to stop it from happening

    Yes, because the “free market” has nothing to do with lowering prices or increasing consumer choice; it’s all about extracting the maximum amount of capital from the market and concentrating it in as few hands as possible.

  80. 80
    artem1s says:

    there are municipalities doing this all over. My mom, who lives in Central SE Ohio gets free wireless via the small town a mile away. She’s about at the limit of their range but it works.

    here in Cleveland there has been a city wide effort to create hot spots and free access for some of the neighborhoods. I am just outside the range for one of these which was set up and in monitored by the area Community Development Corporation. Cleveland’s airport also has open access to wireless.

    for the most part Cleveland has adopted a open access attitude on wireless and has dedicated itself to providing more coverage. There really has never been a market here for T-mobile because everywhere you go, coffee shops, restaurants, etc. just provide a hot spot for free. It’s part of the culture now.

    I’m thinking for the most part this will just happen in the areas where ATT et al haven’t already got a toe hold; mostly rural areas and municipalities that have a strong culture for serving fixed and lower income populations.

  81. 81
    Cassidy says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God: If you come back and read this, I wasn’t trying to offend. I thought it would be funny. Obviously, it didn’t go over that way and I apologize.

    Personally, I’m not interested in ranking everyone’s personal pantheon of pain. Some have been raped, physcially abused, mentally abused, emotionally abused, molested, made fun of for being short, fat, tall, skinny, near sighted, far sighted, no sighted, asthmatic, athletic, not athletic, ugly, too pretty, effeminate, gay, liking My Little Pony, liking cricket, being blonde, being red headed, having tits in elementary school, having a vagina, being a virgin, being a slut, being dumb, being too smart, just fucking being, etc., etc., etc.

    Mine was being poor and being a nerd. Discussing one or two without mentioning all the various other things that children and adults do to one another doesn’t invalidate them. I don’ think anyone here has the time to go through the littany of cruelty just to earn the right to reference a particular topic. So, YMMV.

  82. 82
    trollhattan says:

    Remember low-power FM “microstations?”

    Probably not, because existing broadcasters have done everything short of crushing baby pandas to keep them at bay, despite efforts to foster them going back more than a decade.

    I expect the telecos and cable cabal to crush any effort to free up wireless spectrum for the little guy’s use. They have monopolies to tend to and shareholders to blow, damnit!

  83. 83
    Suffern ACE says:

    It’s kind of sad if this doesn’t go anywhere. Microsoft, Apple and Google have huge amounts of cash that they really don’t know what to do with. Enticing them to build something with it using the FCC rules feels kind of, well, stimulative.

  84. 84

    @Cassidy:
    Fair ’nuff, and apology accepted. On some level I was probably spoiling for a fight, anyway.

    That said, this place (or my reaction to it, hard to tell) has changed somehow since Obama’s re-election. And after the Aaron Swartz thing, I haven’t much felt like I fit in here anymore.

    After over two decades online, I know this feeling: It’s time to retire this particular instance of “me”, and move on.

    Good luck, all. S’been fun…

  85. 85
    Hob says:

    @Shinobi: As someone with a frequently awful sense of humor, I find that a helpful rule of thumb isn’t so much “is this insensitive” or “is this in bad taste,” but “is it even possible for anyone to tell whether I know that this is in bad taste?”

    My job is full of relatively young managerial/marketing types in the tech industry, whose efforts to fit into the aggressively informal atmosphere often make them sort of compulsively vulgar. This one fairly nerdy straight dude was recently complaining about having been criticized in some way during a meeting, thusly: “I just got butt-raped in there, totally butt-raped.” No one batted an eye. Now if he’d said “I just got shot through the guts like a kid in Newtown,” or “I was just hit in the face with a crowbar until all my teeth fell out and I lost vision in one eye,” he would’ve gotten a reaction that, whether it was outrage or amusement, would acknowledge that he was obviously trying to be inappropriate and gross, because those are unfamiliar phrases that take some effort. But “raped” to these guys is just something you say when you’re pissed off, and “butt-raped” makes it funnier because– they’re not sure why, but “no homo” is also a very popular punchline at this place. It’s… kind of depressing.

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