Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Behind the Mustache

A lot of people are unhappy with my snark about Tom Friedman's column. I am, of course, all for expanding access to technology and think municipal wireless/broadband, discussed in the column, is something to applaud and promote, But all of that has little or nothing to do with improving cell phone service, and certainly nothing to do with how our cell phone service compares with that of Ghana. I realize cell phone service is, in this column, just another bad Tom Friedman metaphor for "a bunch of technology-related stuff which may or may not involve wireless technology in a general sense," but as with most late-era Tom Friedman metaphors it's neither appropriate nor illuminating.

While his praise for municipal wireless efforts should be applauded his failure to identify the key barriers to such efforts - intense lobbying by the masters of the universe who run Big Telecom - reduce the utility of his column. He makes it sound as if our failures in this area are due to some sort of general cultural failure, rather than a consequence of existing companies not providing the service while stopping efforts by others to do so.