BellSouth Decides To Punish New Orleans For Daring To Offer WiFi

from the homeless-refugees-better-pay-up dept

Let's face it: BellSouth really hates the concept of muni-wireless. At the beginning of the year, in a fierce battle over the potential for city-supported WiFi in parts of Louisiana, BellSouth threatened to pull a call center out of the state, costing 1,300 jobs if voters didn't vote down the plan. While that was in a different part of Louisiana, it appears that the company is not at all happy that New Orleans has decided to keep up a WiFi network set up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. While the city is still in a "state of emergency" the network will remain at regular speeds. After that, the speeds will be throttled down to 128k (which is part of a state law, put in place at the urging of BellSouth). However, even that's not good enough for BellSouth, apparently. After hearing about the New Orleans plan, the Washington Post claims that BellSouth officials angrily withdrew an offer to donate a damaged building to house New Orleans police headquarters. BellSouth denies that's the reason they pulled back the offer, and claim they're still "negotiating," but others clearly don't see it that way. Of course, all of this should make you wonder just what BellSouth fears in a piddly WiFi mesh network that won't be able to run at speeds above 128k?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Stoned4Life, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 4:10am

    Blackmail

    Instead of fighting against it, they should start offering services that support it, and benefit from the fruits of the state's labor- as the state would be fully paying to have the WiFi network up. I think this is rediculous. Who wants to boycott?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Bob3000, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 4:16am

    No Subject Given

    Thety obviously hold too much power. Need more competition in that space.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    chakatak, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 5:00am

    comi-cate

    isn't that called extortion? At the very least, smells like black mail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Paul, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 5:08am

    Revoke their monopoly

    Louisianna (or New Orleans) should just turn around and revoke their monopoly on local phone service and condfiscate the copper lines. Teach the ILECs that they still opperate their monopolies only because the government allows them too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Keenan I. Nichols, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 5:24am

    Re: Revoke their monopoly

    Actually, it is only because of the government that they are a monopoly. Get gov't out of the economy altogether.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Testudo, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 5:25am

    No Subject Given

    I agree. What they're doing is wrong. It could almost be likened to the tabacco industry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    John Carter, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 5:43am

    Stop Whining

    For as long as any of us can remember BellSouth has been the "Big Boy" of communication. Well, just like any bully when they think there is competition, they try to find a way to make it so that they win and the other losses. I think that Bellsouth should just shut up and do what is right for the people not there business. John Carter Beyond Technology

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    John Carter, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 5:45am

    Re: Revoke their monopoly

    Thats what i am talking about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Sissy Pants, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 5:51am

    Re: Stop Whining

    ""I think that Bellsouth should just shut up and do what is right for the people not there business""

    Well I'm sure they will as soon as we switch over to a Socialist state.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Cam Wyatt, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 5:54am

    Re: comi-cate

    The Black Mail / Extortion doesn't end there...
    A senior telecommunications executive said yesterday that Internet service providers should be allowed to strike deals to give certain Web sites or services priority in reaching computer users, a controversial system that would significantly change how the Internet operates.
    William L. Smith, chief technology officer for Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp., told reporters and analysts that an Internet service provider such as his firm should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc.
    Or, Smith said, his company should be allowed to charge a rival voice-over-Internet firm so that its service can operate with the same quality as BellSouth's offering.
    Network operators can identify the digital "packets" of content moving through their wires from sites and services and can block some or put others at the head of the stream.
    It's time to rally a boycott on Bellsouth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    chakatak, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 6:32am

    Re: comi-cate

    Good thing there is broadband cable and VoIP telephony.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    dan, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 7:06am

    Re: comi-cate

    If you think that those industries are devoid of this type of thinking, you are sadly mistaken.

    Cable and other communications bussinesses would do the same thing if they had the chance. This is why we (the public) need to take control and show them that we will not stand up to their monopolistic bullying.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Fatman, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 7:43am

    Telco is getting it while they can

    I will start by saying that I can not wait until the full blown release of IP over 110. When the power companies are able to provice competitave services, people will remember the years of abuse that the telephone and cable companies have provided.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 7:52am

    Going nuts...

    They seem to think they are the only alternative which is certainly not the case and if all alternatives do decide to be the same way new alternatives will arise. You can't get rid of the people's concern. We are not a nation that normally sits idly by and let's large corporations and the govt. walk over us. Though this has become more of a problem in recent years our history shows different. I would hope that history continues to prove itself true in the case of the people in this country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    B.J. Reese, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 7:52am

    Re: Blackmail

    Bell South has finally convinced me to cancel my landline, after more years than I want to count. I will make do with my cellphone, rather than support an organization that is so completely self-serving.

    I left their ISP service several years ago, because their service was so lousy, and just needed a good reason to drop the landline. Now I have one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    The Truth Beacon, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 7:55am

    GO Bellsouth!

    As much as I loathe monopolies, I must say Go Bellsouth! Since when is it the government's duty to waste tax dollars on something as ridiculous as WiFi? If someone wants internet that bad, they should earn it... What happened to the days when we could fend for our selves? Are you fucking liberals too lazy or too stupid to realize this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    LoneWolf, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 8:16am

    There must be a balance

    That is strange that the government is putting forth a project to provide Wi-Fi. I don't agree with the actions of either party. Perhaps someone like Verizon or another telecom could move in and start offering affordable Wi-Fi if Bell South has no plans to do it. And, if the government sets up a wi-fi network who will pay for all that"free" bandwidth. That's just silly to put forth taxes to that. Especially in an area with millions of dollars in damage...

    And to Bell South, lighten up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    FritzBrown, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 8:18am

    Re: GO Bellsouth!

    Spoken like a true neo-con who doesn't know and doesn't care to know the reason they want to keep the WIFi.
    NOLA is hoping that that the system will aid businesses and help lure them back to the city.
    But I suppose you don't support that either and would prefer to see NOLA bulldozed and forgotten.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Scott, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 8:33am

    Re: GO Bellsouth!

    As to the seeing NOLA bulldozed and forgotten, I am sorry to say yes. Every engineer that has seen what is going on has stated that NOLA will eventually be a loss, the Army Corps of Engineers says within 90 years the levee walls will have to be 30 ft high to protect it next time. So long as no federal tax dollars go to protecting this, rebuild, have fun, party on. Otherwise, no insurance company would back this, why should the federal government?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Rikko, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 9:16am

    Re: GO Bellsouth!

    Because, unfortunately, NOLA is needed there as one of the largest trade hubs in the world. The effort behind moving an entire city a little uphill would exceed levy maintenance.

    No, sadly, New Orleans is sinking and we need it to stay right where it is.

    Or, of course, bulldoze the city and have the harbor operated by shift workers like a lumber camp...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 9:25am

    Re: No Subject Given

    all this complaining from a bunch of people who can't spell word as simple as tobacco and can't remember that blackmail is one word. i wonder why a big company doesn't care about your meaningless concerns.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Jason.Q, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 10:07am

    Dark Age

    Hoping to God America wakes up to the ripoff that privatizing industries such as the phone and the power industries was and is. "this will be better for consumers, this will lower prices and fuel competition, this will fuel innovation" Bull. Rolling blackouts, price hikes into the stratosphere and the stifling of new technologies is all I see. Reminds me of Rio Light, famous for never going out until the World Bank made a demand that the power company be privatized in return for the loans TWB made to Brazil. Now they call it "Rio Dark". And people in America are so confused as to why the love Chavez in Argentina, perhaps because he saved many essential services from the clutches of greedly tyrants like our Baby Bells. Maybe some brave, rich Johnny Appleseed will appear and help make it available cheaply and widely this country and the rest...no of course not, the FCC would never let that happen. We need WiFI pirates like the radio pirates of old....I don't even know if that is possible to tell you the truth, but i can dream.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Admiral Wiggins, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 10:20am

    Re: GO Bellsouth!

    I totally agree. Bellsouth is doing the best they can to stay on top and with liberals trying to make everything easy for them they are taking away the right for Bellsouth to get rid of the competition which is what everybody wants to do in the economy. I say get rid of all liberal companys!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Scott, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 10:30am

    Re: GO Bellsouth!

    You seem to be confusing the port with the city. There is no need for people to live in an area, that can not be sustained. Evacuating a working port is much easier than a city full of people who refuse or are unable to leave. According to their own page they employ 318 people, would it make sense to work toward securing a port for 318 people or a city with over 480,000, with a greater metro area over 1.3 million? What happens next time? Think of the actual future, not 20 to 30 years from now. As humans we seem deficient at looking past our own experience(we already are not building toward next time, the levees are still not up to par) the levees are barely category 3 again, we have 2 other categories to think about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Jason.Q, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 10:41am

    HEY TRUTH BEACON

    "as much as i loathe monopolies.." STFU. What fetid and typical neocon hypocrisy. you probably believe in states rights but cheer when the FED tells the states what laws they can and cannot enact such as in medical marijuana, assisted suicide, etc. You probably preach fiscal conservatism and yet still support that fool president and his record deficit spending problem. You probably preach from some high horse moral superiority while your party self destructs from its own lies, corruption and ethics scandals. You might want to pull your head out your anus and read a history book- this time you speak of in the past when people "fended for themselves" was not a status quo to be settled with, it was the bleedingly hard beginnings of society being built, not the pinnacle of our civiliazation. It has only been very recently that the power has not been national, and that the phonelines were not owned, operated and maintained by the FEDs- who do you think built them. Who do you think built the the highway system, it wasn't some lone conservative, foul mouthed, heartless citizen such as yourself building it on his own, or are you "too lazy" or "too stupid" to crack a book and educate yourself on these facts. It was "fucking liberal" social programs that built this country, ever heard of the New Deal? Without the Government fullfilling it's duty to protect the American people and their way of life by stepping in to create jobs through public works projects we would all be in a very different post-depression world. Do you like the dams that provide you with power, social project. The highways, social project. How about all those power lines and phone lines. I suppose we all should have independently started building our own hydroelectric dams and power infrastructure during the depression but the government was kind enough to step in and stop the country from disentegrating as it is doing now in New Orleans. Yeah, you are right, all my tax dollars are being wasted by the government, how dare they make public the "ridiculous" internet they created with my money, they should take it back for military and governmental use only and quite wasting it on me and the world for that matter. Lets shut down the roads and the phone lines and reserve them for infantry and tanks and ICBM's ONLY. If you want to drive down the highway on your cell phone with powered street lights above you build them yourselves you "fucking liberals" yeah thats right! You want to know what happened to the days when people fended for themselves, i'll tell you, they were called the dark ages and before that prehistory when we lived in caves, we progressed past those day and built civil societies and joined together to work towards a better world, most of us did anyways. I hear there are still places in Africa and Asia where people still "fend for themselves" maybe they'll let you join them, good riddance fool. Enjoy fending for yourself with malaria and the four different versions of hepatitus you got from crapping in a hole and eating tainted meat, and good luck checking your email.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    thirst4knowledge, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 11:48am

    Re: comi-cate

    nope extortion:

    #2 Illegal use of one's official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage.

    it's only blackmail when you threaten to reveal "shady" details.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Prescott, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 12:55pm

    Bell South = Classy

    Hats off, Bell South. Your sense of community is fantastic. Ever hear of the notion noblesse oblige. Why can't you use your power for good instead of using it to gain a business edge? A quick note to the capitalists: Just because they legally might be able to do this and make some money it doesn't make it right! They can't even let the poor souls who have no home, no insurance and no job have anything to look forward to. And this is a perfect example of extortion. They are trying to extort: To obtain from another by coercion or intimidation. When you fly over the rubble in your private jets be sure to spit on someone for me, too. Now go put on your golden little shoes and eat your caviar you lush executive pig-dogs!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Matthew, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 5:21pm

    Did no one even see this?

    Bell south says "Our willingness to work with the mayor and the city is still on the table," Battcher said. "We've been working for over two months on this building . . . we are a little surprised by these comments."
    Doesn't anyone think there might be something wrong with this whole story? It's like bell south is the total badass and NOPD are the good guys. I don't believe this is the truth. Something really stinks in here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Lance Fisher, Dec 5th, 2005 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Did no one even see this?

    I agree, Matthew. It seems like there is something more going on here even though I think that muni-wireless would be good for most communities.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    giafly, Dec 6th, 2005 @ 2:50am

    Tax

    They're clearly selling this building for something - not donating it freely - so I hope they report the price in their accounts and pay tax.
    If not, the police will be ideally placed to prosecute.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    rabidsquirrel, Dec 6th, 2005 @ 9:19am

    Re: Bell South = Classy

    I agree. Some non-classy entity like like GOOGLE should go down there and roll out some free WiFi to those poor souls (Do the whole impacted gulf coast area while they are at it).
    How did BellSouth get away with getting the State legislature to pass a law throttling WiFi back to 128K?
    Google, please show this collection of 'tards (Gov't officials included) what it is all about, and roll out your free Wi-Max project(.11'G', .11'A', .11'B', or the flavour du juor) to these ppl. They will appreciate it, and you will make lifelong 'Googlers' out of the gulf coast. Go to battle w/ these morons, with public opinion completely on your side, as well as the law. Expose the Anti-competition 128k Wifi cap law for exactly what it is. Open up the the bandwidth floodgates and see if the state and the telco monopoly is dumb enough to try to prosecute you.
    Please, Google, do it for me!
    ;^)
    I would love to see this happen. It would be better than 4th of July fireworks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    rabidsquirrel, Dec 6th, 2005 @ 10:19am

    Re: HEY TRUTH BEACON

    Nice response to Beacon. I totally agree with the content and tone of your response. I started to respond to Beacon, but feared that he/she wouldn't be able to comprehend the response based on what Beacon had written.

    My hats' off to you, for you are even more of an optimist than I!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    JasonQ, Dec 6th, 2005 @ 12:54pm

    Re: HEY TRUTH BEACON

    Yeah..i know he probably will never read it or respond to it, or even "get it". I just had to sound off..that response is for anyone spouting off that insipidness.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    doubledoh, Dec 6th, 2005 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Revoke their monopoly

    Actually, it is only because of the government that they are a monopoly. Get gov't out of the economy altogether.
    This is the only intelligent comment that I've read so far.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    doubledoh, Dec 6th, 2005 @ 2:38pm

    Re: Blackmail

    Bell South has finally convinced me to cancel my landline, after more years than I want to count. I will make do with my cellphone, rather than support an organization that is so completely self-serving.
    I left their ISP service several years ago, because their service was so lousy, and just needed a good reason to drop the landline. Now I have one.

    And this the exact kind of reasoning we need: If you don't like a product or service (or company) then stop supporting it. Leave government intervention out of it. The state has NEVER solved any problems, and they aren't going to solve this...your wallet's vote will.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 6th, 2005 @ 2:44pm

    Re: GO Bellsouth!

    But I suppose you don't support that either and would prefer to see NOLA bulldozed and forgotten.
    Actually, yeah. Rebuilding a city that lies under sea level is begging to be taught the same lesson twice...at the expense of NATIONAL taxpayers--many of whom are smart enough to not settle or build in such precarious positions. Why should I be punished because people choose to live in areas that are subject to disaster--and do so without holding insurance policies?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Jason.Q, Dec 6th, 2005 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Blackmail

    Yeah, like that horrible time when the state revolted against the King of England. Oh, oh and that time when they freed the slaves or that even worse time when they gave women the right to vote, that was pretty bad. Remember that insane Bill of Rights that was enacted? How about when they started forcing car companies to produce safer cars? I know, disastrous. What about the safety net they put in place after the economy crashed and the depression ended? Or what about the insanity in world war two when they mobilized against the Nazi's in Europe and the Imperialist in Japan, we all remember how badly that turned out. Remember the disaster that occured when they began forcing pharmacuetical companies and food manufacturers to stop putting known poisons into our grocery stores and drugs stores? How dare they force slaughterhouses to stop curing meat with strychnine and putting morphine in infant teething ointment? What about that ridiculous space program that brought us absolutely no technological advances or.... yeah,you are soooo right, thank God we have all those benevolent corporations out there to protect us from marauding gangs of rapists and murderers and that I can rely on them to regulate the safety of their own products and pay me a fair wage and not force me to work 18 hours a day alongside my five year old...yeah, thank god for the bussiness world because the state has NEVER solved any problems.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Gulf Coast Evacuee, Dec 22nd, 2005 @ 10:41am

    Re: Blackmail

    I feel badly for all of New Orleans residents and businesses. I got hit hard too, but I have a house I can repair and sell.

    My customers (casinos) are gone, and won't return for a long time. I've moved north (Huntsville, AL) and am happily employed, although a little cold and a little homesick.

    But New Orleans DOES need to be re-engineered, or plowed under and rebuilt ABOVE sea level. Not 10 feet below it.

    Guess what? there's more weather just like Katrina, Ivan, etc coming. Do we really want to see a major port city subjected to rebuild-flood-rebuild cycles for the next 10 years? Or take our time to build a survivable city that can handle the inevitable flooding next summer/fall.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Rob D, Dec 22nd, 2005 @ 10:42am

    Re: GO Bellsouth!

    Actually, it makes sense to buldoze and operat the harbor like a lumber camp.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    cornfield, Feb 6th, 2006 @ 6:14am

    wake up

    Stop talking people. BellSouth sucks, yeah? so what are you gonna do about it? besides bitch on here about it.
    It's time to make people aware. Creat a website or something. Boycott Bellsouth (like I and my family and friends do).Bombard your local governments with emails and letters ask them to update the telecom laws.
    This country is far from where it should be when it comes to high speed communication. Look at South korea and Japan to name a few countries that have the United States beat in this area. The fact of the matter is majority of americans are dumb. I mean look at what we put in office as our president. The scale of power is going to shift soon if things don't change.
    Americans are the dumbest consumers on the planet. You know why? because we think we can afford to be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Former Employee, Jul 10th, 2006 @ 9:44am

    Corporate Arrogance

    As a former employee I can attest to my perception of them having complete and total arrogance towards other businesses (competition). I think that they believe that they own the world and no other business should be allowed to exist. To me they are slow to improve services but quick to charge as much as possible. This attitude permeates the entire organization - including the yellow pages advertising and cellular sides of the business. They maintain a Utility Company (monopoly) mentality where they could do what they please - they can't deal with a free enterprise market with competition. What they would love most now is to charge the Search Engines for usage of lines and monetize your Internet use - greedy, greedy . . . .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This