Would you put up with behind-the-scenes operators trying to ban your city from fixing your town's streets, claiming that only well-connected private businesses should be allowed to do it? Of course not. And in the same way, we shouldn't put up with Big Telecom trying to ban cities and towns from launching their own WiFi networks.
Big Telecom's political operators and lobbyists have been haunting state legislators and the halls of Congress, trying to pass statutes that would outlaw towns and cities from building WiFi networks.
These networks aren't just for the public --- they're also used for police and fire communications. And the networks are big stimulants to local economies. In a small town in Indiana, for example, a Republican-dominated town, no big fan of socialism, built a WiFi network because no telecom company would provide broadbad, and the town's businesses were about to abandon the town because of it. The network was built, and the businesses stayed.
A recent study found that U.S. cities, towns and counties will spend almost $700 million over the next three years to build municipally owned WiFi networks. It also found that the market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 134 percent between 2004 and 2007. The total U.S. market will exceed $400 million by 2007.
Big Telecom wants every dollar in that market, and it'll do whatever it takes to get it. Here's hoping that legislators, for once, will do the right thing, and leave it up to local officials to decide whether to build their own networks.