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Telco Appeals Minnesota City's Fiber-Optic Win 162

tsa writes "In a predictable move, TDS Telecom has filed an appeal after its complaint against Monticello, Minnesota's new fiber network was tossed by a county judge in early October. As you may remember, the city decided to build its own fiber-optic network after the telco made it clear they wouldn't build it because it wouldn't be economically feasible for them. TDS Telecom then changed its mind and sued the city for unfair competition."
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Telco Appeals Minnesota City's Fiber-Optic Win

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  • wait wait wait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neo8750 ( 566137 ) < minus cat> on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:20PM (#25687849) Homepage
    So they refused to build one. Then the city said well we are gonna build one and proceeded to build it. Then they sued the city because they built it?

    I don't see how they could unless the city made a law(replace with proper term) to not allow the building of another.

    Because that's like me going to a store with 100 tacos getting to the front and saying "wow that's to much for my blood" then getting out of line watching 100 other people go through the line and once they are out of tacos going "Hey wait a minute i don't think its fair i didn't get a taco.

    P Thats my 2 cents and no i didnt RTFA

  • Re:wait wait wait (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Roland Piquepaille ( 780675 ) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @12:38PM (#25687967)

    Exactly, this is typical telco bully-boy behaviour.

    Likewise, if GM indicated they had no intention of manufacturing manure-powered vehicles, I don't see how they could sue someone who decided to take the manure-powered vehicle market into their own hands as a result.

    The judge was right to throw the case out.

  • by Sniper98G ( 1078397 ) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @01:21PM (#25688237)

    The Telco has used the time that they have delayed the cities project to begin laying its own fiber network. This is the very same fiber network that the city original requested to be installed.

    At this point, due to the legal delays, the Telco's network is now further along than the cities. I think that they are hoping that if they can keep the city tied up for long enough then the residents will jump on their network because it's done.

    I personally hope that the residents can see the advantages of their municipal plan and how it can create grater competition leading to better service for consumers.

  • Re:wait wait wait (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @01:54PM (#25688453) Journal

    I think your forgetting a couple of steps here.

    First, you not going into a certain line of business because you can't see the return is not the same thing as an open bidding process for a government to go into the same line of business. Second, there are a lot more then owning the network that needs an open bid process, construction, use of existing right of ways and so on all ne to go through an unbiased open bid process.

    You see, building it for me might not be profitable enough to justify the expense. But building it for you might be more then profitable enough. Adn when you are a government, even though I didn't want to build it for me, you still have to include me in the open bidding process to build it for you. The impression I'm getting here is that the telecom was shut out of everything because they didn't want to build it for themselves. And yes, that does present a problem because a government contract shouldn't be dependent on doing something for the government at your expense.

  • by jcartaya ( 51188 ) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @01:58PM (#25688475) Homepage

    It is hard to believe the Telco is suing to educate taxpayers about the difference between "government-funded" and "free".

    It is far more likely that the Telco is already entrenched in that town, and when aproached by the city they requested "additional incentives" to build the network. When the negotiations broke over this issue, the government decided to do it on their own, and the Telco sued because they will lose to the fiber once it is laid down.

    Having said this, it is not unlike a gas company suing a city because the city officials want to replace street gas lights with electric bulbs.

  • Bye-bye TDS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HikingStick ( 878216 ) <> on Saturday November 08, 2008 @02:01PM (#25688485)

    My company has TDS as an Internet service provider, and I've not been impressed with their service of late. This takes the cake. I am the decision-maker at my workplace, so Monday morning will feature a few calls--both to TDS and to our regional cable provider.
    I had been investigating a cable Internet on-ramp as a backup connection, but now I think we should just move our account away from TDS. My sales rep will hear from me on Monday morning.

  • Re:wait wait wait (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zigurd ( 3528 ) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @02:05PM (#25688507) Homepage

    It is perfectly fair for a government letting a contract to limit that contract to entities that are not suing it. That's like an arbitration clause in a contract.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 08, 2008 @02:12PM (#25688557)

    the city of Tacoma in Washington state was able to lay their own fiber. As a result they city has turned a good profit from leasing the fiber to local ISPs. Comcast and QWest can't even compete in terms of speed and pricing. There is NO THROTTLING AND NO CAP!!! Every city should do this. The money they make from leasing their own fiber far outweigh any benefit those ISPs can bring to the city.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @02:49PM (#25688763) Journal

    A laissez-faire approach was tried first for some of these things. Roads and firestations are not as compelling an example as old-school telecom is. I've seen pictures of telecom and power systems prior to the granting of the Bell monopoly: There were poles with 20 wired cross-members on them. Google around, there must be a picture of it somewhere.

    Some things are "natural monopolies", where the entry of multiple players would be so contrary to the general good, that government must step in. Roads, firestations, and telecom infrastructure are all great examples.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @03:04PM (#25688863) Journal

    The infrastructure was provided by a monopoly. Things might appear differently now but the truth is that at one time, it was and it still is if only one entity owns the infrastructure that the different services use. In the UK, it might be the government who owns it, but the point is that a free market isn't there because at least one aspect isn't free.

  • by exi1ed0ne ( 647852 ) * <> on Saturday November 08, 2008 @03:19PM (#25688965) Homepage

    Now this is something that I've been thinking about recently. Was the decision to force electrification actually beneficial for the long term? Short term - yes, hands down. However, who's to say what other solutions those small communities would have come up with. If people want something bad enough, they will get it. Would renewable energy be more common today if we didn't push for the current energy infrastructure? Would our thirst for watts be less? Would the current infrastructure be as overloaded with X communities with point of use generation?

    Largely unknowable, but still something to think about.

  • by deraj123 ( 1225722 ) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @03:30PM (#25689027)
    However, this system has the benefit of paring the monopoly down to as small an aspect as possible. This system shows that there's no inherent need to have a monopoly on the service. The only need for a monopoly is on the infrastructure. Therefore, that's the only aspect of the business that should have a monopoly, and the other parts of the business can be opened up to the free market.
  • Re:wait wait wait (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Saturday November 08, 2008 @05:34PM (#25689807)
    I agree with you.

    I do however think that a better solution than the city building the fiber network would be for the cities to build data conduits. They already run multiple conduits through cities. Sewer, Water, Storm Drains, perhaps even gas lines. Cities know how to run conduit. As far as I know, there are no entities in the US that currently run data conduit for public use within the US.

    So, if the city built a conduit system similar to the storm drains, but reserved it for use as a data conduit, they could rent out that space to ANYONE that wanted to run data lines. Whether that is for telephone, internet or cable. This would allow true competition for telephone, internet and cable within their cities, while keeping down the long term costs of ripping up streets to do maintenance. This would also be a boon to local businesses that wanted secure dedicated lines. If a hospital in town wants a secure line to a lab clinic a few miles down the road, they could have an honest to goodness dedicated line run directly to the destination point. If a local ISP wants to start selling 100 megabit internet connections, they can run their own lines.

    Best of all, if some new tech comes out that requires a different kind of cabling, then it doesn't require digging up all of the streets in the city to get it deployed. It is just a matter of pulling new cable through the existing conduit.

    The city doesn't have to worry about these kinds of lawsuits. The city gets to charge rent on the conduit. And the residents get a much better chance of having the latest and greatest technology in their neighborhoods.

I've got a bad feeling about this.