Sunday, June 12, 2011

Internet in a Suitcase Abroad, But What About Pennsylvania?

The New York Times has a front page article on U.S. governmental efforts to support democracy via stealthy data networking in strive torn areas abroad.  See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/world/12internet.html.

So the good guys might have ways to get the message out when the bad guys erect fire walls, or disable incumbent networks.  What’s not to like about such empowering technologies?

But the prospect of broadband in warring regions throughout the world got me thinking about broadband access in my home town, centrally located in the middle of nowhere—State College, PA, home of Penn State University.  Ironically those freedom loving patriots probably have better wireless access than I have.  Worse yet a certain incumbent carrier—threatened by the prospect of taxpayer underwritten, or tax favored municipal wireless networks—managed to convince the easily lobbied Pennsylvania legislature to grant it a right of first refusal on any wireless network with the exception of Philadelphia.  So whatever momentum might evolve to support citizen empowering wireless broadband has the cloud of litigation whether the right exists to even try to build a wireless network.

In Afghanistan and elsewhere shadow wireless networks pop up with U.S. governmental support.  But here in Pennsylvania a cloud of another sort frustrates wireless development thanks to an incumbent carrier claiming but not necessarily exercising “dibs” on wireless networking.  

1 comment:

Ben Cramer said...

Even better is when our Congress proposes a bill to give the government power to shut down the internet in the interests of national security... but when other countries (Iran, Egypt, Libya, Syria, etc. etc. etc.) do the same thing, our leaders condemn them as anti-democracy dictatorships.

Reminds me of how Kurds in Turkey are terrorists but Kurds in Iraq are freedom fighters.