Talk about a bad public-relations move. Telecom lobbyists are trying to shut down New Orleans' WiFi network, which has proven to be an invaluable service in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. State law prohibits cities from providing more than a 128 Kbps network, and it looks like the state legislature will agree. City officials estimate that about 15,000 customers use the network since Internet access is still down in more than half the city. New Orleans was trying to expand the network through corporate sponsorships from folks like Google and Yahoo, but the interested parties began hedging. Then lobbyists began to work to shut down the network. BellSouth wouldn't comment, but not to worry, it already sells city-wide wireless broadband services in five markets including New Orleans for $70 per month using a proprietary technology and will look to offer a WiMAX backup solution for $30 per month for those broadband customers who lose their fixed broadband connections.
For more information about the effort to shut down WiFi in New Orleans:
- check out this article in Red Herring