From today's American Progress Report:
CORPORATIONS FIGHTING TO SHUT DOWN NEW ORLEANS' FREE WIRELESS NETWORK: Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans officials announced plans to provide free high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses "to help stimulate resettlement and relocation to the devastated city." BellSouth and other regional telecommunications firms fought the effort, but New Orleans developed the wireless network anyway. “Now it is the lifeblood for so many businesses,” says Greg Meffert, the city’s chief information officer, who "got downtown businesses back online by opening the city’s wireless mesh network—originally deployed to link surveillance cameras—to anyone who needed it." More than 15,000 people are now believed to use the network. But telecommunication lobbyists are still trying to shut it down, "and Mr. Meffert says it looks like the state legislature will agree." Meffert says he and Mayor Ray Nagin "plan to keep offering the service as long as they feel an emergency exists" whether it's legal or not. Says Meffert: "If I have to go to jail, I guess I will. ... [W]e simply cannot turn off these few lifelines we have to our city and businesses."