Phil King leads the charge against municipal network build-outs, but undermines self again: King, in this Star-Telegram (Ft. Worth) article, says that "he views most municipal Wi-Fi networks as a ploy by cities to start for-profit businesses." But dozens of cities are fighting his bill's language, which while revised remains broad enough to fulfill its true purpose: eliminating private competition as well as municipal competition for incumbent broadband providers.
The bill doesn't address the lack of broadband. Rather, it hands monopoly and duopoly powers over to incumbents while reducing a host of regulatory burdens that affect universal access to dial tone and other resources.
Rep. King says, "No business should have to compete with public tax dollars," King said. But it's not about that kind of competition. No municipality should have to beg private corporations for the privilege of having the basic services they need to survive. No municipality should be barred from allowing private companies access to municipal facilities in order to provide private competition.
If Austin's airport has its wireless network shut down as is possible under the Texas bill, that only benefits the cellular carriers who are allowed to continue operating their cell data networks within the airport. It doesn't benefit air travelers, the city of Austin, or business in Austin that view the airport's Wi-Fi network as a competitive advantage.
If there's ever a case to be made for municipal self-determination it's that so many municipalities view broadband networks (wireless or otherwise) as vital components in their ability to serve the public through police, fire, and emergency care and to make their communities competitive for business. When Rep. King say he thinks that cities want to turn broadband into a profit center, he just doesn't understand what they're doing with the technology and how underserved and overpriced most of his state is--or he's only listening to one viewpoint: SBC's.