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Big Easy Gets Free Wi-Fi Network

One of the many hard lessons New Orleans learned from Hurricane Katrina was that traditional telephone and mobile phone services can fail, so the city is unveiling its own Wi-Fi network Tuesday that will be free to its citizens.

The city, still digging out from the ravages of the storm, will build on an existing relationship with Tropos Networks, which has supplied several municipalities with its metro-scale networks.

While Tropos and other business partners have made a significant donation of supplies and personnel to the project, the city will own the network. The network is going live Tuesday in the French Quarter and in the central business quarter.

"Now, with a single step, city departments, businesses, and private citizens can access a tool that will help speed the rebuilding of New Orleans as a better, safer, and stronger city," said Mayor C. Ray Nagin in a statement.

In a sense, the hurricane resulted in a small favor as it caused New Orleans to be declared in a state of emergency, paving the way for the Wi-Fi network to trump Louisiana state regulations that had limited municipalities from offering high-speed connections. The new Wi-Fi network will have speeds of 512 Kbps.

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