Friday, March 04, 2005

Legislation to Prevent Free Internet Access

Recent technological developments have increased the ability of computers to access the internet wirelessly, by recieveing signals through the air.

While this means free internet access for a lot of people when they drop by the library or Starbucks, it may not mean free access at home. At least, not any more.

The Houston Chronicle has a story today about a bill in the Texas legislature designed to protect incumbent internet service providers from having to compete with those who would give away Wi-Fi.

The bills, there are similar ones pending in other states, would prevent not only municipal governments from setting up local Wi-Fi utilities, but would prevent private citizens from forming non-profit corporations to make access freely or very cheaply available.

In a move reminiscent of the recording industry's effort to squelch new technologies, the entrenched telecommunications industry wants to control the field rather than to compete in it. Apparently, these are the new rules of the game: if you can't compete according to the dictates of evolving technology, ask the government to enact legislation forcing consumers to continue buying your product or service.

Using these tactice have lead a lot of people to loathe the recording industry. You would think others would have learned a lesson from that debacle, but apparently not. Like the recording industry the telecommunications people will destroy whatever good will toward them costumers have and wiill ultimately lose anyway.

Industries affected by emerging tech have to learn the only way to stay afloat is by sticking to the fundamentals of business, supply a good product to meet the demand. Trying to manipulate the market by limiting consumers freedom might seem like a shortcut, but will only lead to diminished earnings and public distrust.

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