The Palmer Post


Palmer City Council Tables, Stalls Wi-Five Internet by Joey G. Dauben
May 19, 2010, 2:31 am
Filed under: Free Market, Public Service Ads

This really boils down to an issue of city-sponsored monopolization vs. free-market competition (I’m waiting for Brannon Bridge to upload the video of tonight’s Palmer council meeting), with me squarely in the camp of the free-marketers. Wi-Five Internet, which has already destroyed competition in Ferris and Wilmer, came to Palmer (well, owner Joe Birmingham did), to tout his blazingly high speed Internet service against ECTISP and Skybeam (formerly AirCanopy.)

Above: Wi-Five Internet’s Joe Birmingham (left-to-right), City Administrator Doug Young, Councilman Jeff Vick.

The Palmer City Council was unanimous in their stall tactics to allow Wi-Five to set up shop on one of two water towers (or both) to brandish their high speed service. I spoke with Joe Birmingham after the meeting to attempt to go at this the private-sector way. The city wants only one garbage collection service (DCI out of Ennis is great, merely using this as an example), only one concrete street maker, one metal building supplier (all these are fictionalized examples), one bullet proof vest maker, one ambulance service provider, etc., etc.

Why can’t we foster a free-market approach and have 45 different Internet Service Providers (ISPs), if we wanted? Why couldn’t we set up city parks and maybe have ISPs put up towers among the trees and provide wi-fi hotspots in our city parks that we all want?

Why can’t I have Roach Waste do my garbage instead of the city council creating a monopoly (and therefore, one set price) and deciding for me? Why can’t I hire my own ditch-diggers instead of relying on a “we don’t have the money” city government to do it? (if it ever happens)

We have three gas stations. Why can’t we have three ISPs?

That’s what it boils down to.

There were concerns that frequency channels were being hampered with due to static from the two other ISPs in town, ECTISP and Skybeam. Wi-Five sits on the same water tower in Ferris with Skybeam, so there is co-existence out there already. Birmingham had no problem in making sure that interference would not be an issue with the other two ISPs…and this issue has nothing at all to do with who is “unlicensed,” as one citizen spoke about. We don’t need the Federal Communications Commission (God forbid) to dictate to Palmer, Texas who can set up wireless Internet service in town.
Wi-Five has a product (blazing speed wi-fi), and he has the capabilities of making all of Palmer affordably connected to the Internet. I benefit personally from this arrangement because I run a very widely read blog (www.EllisCountyO.com), and publish an increasingly popular newspaper (www.ThePalmerPost.com), so my incentive as a young capitalist is to support efforts like Joe Birmingham and Wi-Five to come into towns like this and compete. The root in this is competition.
The city council should hear this guy out at the next month’s meeting, when we have two new councilmen (Chris Ivie and Jeff Greenlee) flesh out the details. It doesn’t hurt to open your city up to competition. Can you imagine only one gas station in town, only one grocery store, only one cafe? You’d be forced to either shop/fill up/eat at one spot or go into some other jurisdiction with your sales tax dollars.
For those curious, I passed a business card to Mr. Birmingham with the Palmer Sonic manager’s name and phone number with the written note that “Sonic wants to set up a hotspot ASAP.”

If the city council cannot see the merits of allowing for free-market competition, I will attempt to divert it around them and do it anyway. I want this town to grow, read my paper and read my blog (and keep me in business), and I also want it to sell beer and wine (that’s coming in November!), as well as plan for the future, build new roads, plan/build new parks, put in a library, etc., etc.
It’s time for Palmer to grow out of the shadow of dormant Ferris and high-taxed Ennis. Time to start operating like a 21st Century city, not a closed-shop shriveled former cotton town.

Full-disclosure: I’m utilizing ECTISP right now (no complaints, but I like Wi-Five’s speed.)

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FYI: I misspoke when I said “I had two properties in Green Acres.” I meant to say two pieces of property (in varying locations…one in Green Acres.)

And I’m posting the Wi-Five ad as a public service, simply because more and more people need to have higher speed Internet service and in turn, capabilities to read my blog and my newspaper Web site.

Comment by thepalmerpost




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