10 December 2004

Connecting the wires less

An article on Alternet discusses the movement by local municipalities to provide community-owned wireless access. Pennsylvania has now passed a law, backed by cut-throat corporations like Verizon, that heavily restricts cities in the state from providing Internet access. This anachronistic law is interesting in light of recent studies showing America's broadband access falling behind that of other countries. In the U.S., there is an idealized myth that the country is a "democracy" made up of strong "communities," but the Pennsylvania law essentially demonstrates that communities aren't deemed worthy of trust whenever their democratic desires run counter to corporate interests. Having lived in Asia, I know through firsthand experience that U.S. DSL and cable services are grossly overpriced. To make matters worse, the companies that monopolize these services limit consumer choice by requiring senseless one-year contracts.

According to recent news reports, some communities in Pennsylvania have voiced strong opposition to the new law.