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BellSouth To New Orleans Wi-Fi: Drop Dead

For those who doubt the evilness of some telcos, here's the latest news: BellSouth is fighting to shut down the wireless network helping New Orleans recover from Katrina. The company rammed a law through the state legislature banning cities from deploying networks faster than 128 kbps, and the free New Orleans network runs at 512 kbps.
Red Herring has the story. It notes that Internet service is unavailable in half of the city, and so 15,000 people and many businesses are reliant on the network.

But BellSouth wants to shut the network down and force people to subscribe to its higher-cost service -- $70 per month for Wi-Max, or $29.95 per month if people are already BellSouth subscribers.

New Orleans CIO, Greg Meffert, is standing up to the big telco. He said that he'll keep providing the service, whether it violates the state law or not.

"If I have to go to jail, I guess I will," he told Red Herring. He added, "We simply cannot turn off these few lifelines we have to our city and businesses."

Making all this worse is that hurricane season is less than two months away. And if BellSouth has its way, New Orleans will be even less prepared for the next disaster than it was for the last one.