March 24, 2006

NOLA: Hands off our muni wi-fi

This is off our usual beat; it's not a Texas story but it's illustrative. During the Hurricane Katrina crisis, New Orleans setup a wireless mesh running at 512Kbps speed. Problem is that state law, while not completely outlawing muni networks, caps permitted speed at 128Kbps–about twice the speed of a dialup modem.

The local incumbent (BellSouth) is now prodding the state to enforce the law and shut down the network, even though thousands of New Orleaneans depend on it for access. And by access I don't just mean web surfing: VOIP over wireless is the only phone service available in many parts of the city.

The city is digging in.

Legal or not, [New Orleans CIO] Mr. Meffert said he and Mayor Ray Nagin plan to keep offering the service as long as they feel an emergency exists.

“If I have to go to jail, I guess I will,” he said. “If they really want to play that game, I guess they are right. But we simply cannot turn off these few lifelines we have to our city and businesses.”

Read the full article at Red Herring.

Posted by chip at March 24, 2006 06:02 PM | TrackBack
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