A plethora of municipal broadband news, as seems to be increasingly typical: Let me run you through the latest stories.
Now this might be a little churlish: why no major operators? Did they say no?: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the upcoming Digital Cities Convention in the city in which liberty was forged runs today through Wednesday, but doesn't include any of the incumbents who have been fighting municipal broadband. It's a curious omission but they may have said, no, thanks.
San Francisco gets more free hotspots paid for by AnchorFree: The company has found a great PR vehicle for gaining attention while providing a service for free through its SF hotzones. (Note to self: It's not Frisco, but "ess eff.") While the city of seven hills considers whether to build its own network, the legislature considers blocking publicly funded Wi-Fi networks. The article notes that MetroFi, a private firm, has managed to build networks that span Santa Clara and Cupertino with Mountain View and Sunnyvale to follow. (Any users out there? How's the service?) The article quotes David McClure of the US Internet Industry Association. I have found that I like a fair amount of what he says about implementation, but not about public policy. The association doesn't disclosure membership (only founding members) nor funding. Verizon is on its board. McClure notes that taxpayers shouldn't bear financial risk for municipal networks; the latest city proposals take note of that and offset risk to private or non-profit entities.
Texas Senate to review municipal broadband bill...eventually: The bill approved with one "nay" vote in the house offered a lot of sops to those who complained about its total ban on municipal networks--a ban that would have probably led to airports dropping Wi-Fi service (but not cellular contracts, which would still have been allowed). The Senate might allow competition over municipal power lines. Senate hearings haven't been scheduled. Dallas wants to bring free hotspot zones online that are primarily focused on public safety and secondarily offer outdoor-only Wi-Fi service.
Down the road a piece from the State House in Austin, Michael Dell is backing municipal broadband: Dell knows that the bill is apparently lobbying directly to legislators. Leading pro-municipal advocate Adina Levin says in the article that the currently approved House Bill would damage Texas businesses' ability to compete. A spokesperson for the cable association in Texas says, "We're concerned about using taxpayer money to compete with private businesses." I would still like to see an accounting of taxpayer dollars paid to cable and telco firms as well as tax relief given them to build their networks. This statement also ignores the variety of models that have emerged to avoid using taxpayer money.