Shutting Down Free Wi-Fi in New Orleans

After Hurricaine Katrina literally blew away the telecom infrastructure of New Orleans, the city's chief information officer opened up the existing city-owned wireless Internet network -- deployed to control surveillance cameras -- to everyone in the city for free. The network became an economic lifeline for businesses trying to reopen in the city and for thousands of people moving back to the City. Offers by companies like Google looked to expand the network further. But now telecommunications lobbyists are trying to shut the network down. They pushed through a state law a few years ago banning cities from running functioning Internet services for their residents, but New Orleans was able to work around the law because of the Katrina emergency. But now?
“The vendors, the BellSouths of this world, are not only going to force us back, making our existing Wi-Fi illegal, but also they want to close a loophole for emergencies so that we would not do this again,” said Mr. Meffert.
Free Press has more information here about the telecom-backed bills in Lousiana and whole lot of other information about the fight for open media in our communities.