Earthlink Wins New Orleans WiFi Deal, BellSouth Freakout in 5...4...3...

from the you-can't-do-that dept

The story of muni WiFi in New Orleans has been a juicy one. BellSouth's lobbying machine was in high gear in Louisiana, getting a law passed saying that any municipal WiFi network couldn't operate at speeds above 128kbps. When the city dared operate a network at higher speeds in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to assist relief efforts and provide some telecom infrastructure when private companies -- like BellSouth -- couldn't, the company allegedly withdrew the offer it had made to the city to donate a damaged building to house police headquarters. A few months ago, BellSouth lobbied to get the network shut down completely, saying it was illegal under the state law, though city officials refused to comply. Now, Earthlink says it's been awarded a deal build a citywide network in New Orleans, and plans to offer a free 300kbps network alongside paid services of 1Mbps. BellSouth and its cabal will probably react negatively to this network, and try to fight it -- but they'll soon realize that most of these "municipal" WiFi networks really aren't municipal at all. Private companies build, own and operate them, while localities' only contribution, typically, is to allow access to lampposts, utility poles and the like. If BellSouth has such a strong interest in this market, it was welcome to bid for the contract like any other company. Of course, that would require it to compete, when it would rather spend its resources trying to get the competition shut down by laws and regulations instead of taking it on in the marketplace.

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  1. identicon
    Michael "TheZorch" Haney, 26 May 2006 @ 12:46pm

    A Perfect Case of Screwing One's Self

    This is a perfect example of a telco screwing itself over because of corporate greed. Just because they are, quote, the "Telephone Company", unquote, it does not mean that they have governmental authority. Too many times I've seem these companies and the "utilities" try to kill off competition by getting laws passed that protect their business models. In the case of Bell South they did just that with New Orleans, but its rather ironic that the same law they passed has turned around and bitten them in a rumpus. They denied the city a vital need during a major crisis because of greed and lost out on a chance to make a boat-load of money. They can scream and cry all they want to the LA state legislature all they want. All New Orleans has to do is say they don't run the network, they just gave Earthlink access to the locations to install their equipment, thus they never broke the law. I'm just rolling around on the floor its so darned funny. This is poetic justice at its finest.

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