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New Orleans to Deploy Free Wi-Fi City Wide

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the webbing-things-back-into-place dept.

Wireless Networking 363

Lawrence_Bird writes "The Washington Post is reporting that New Orleans will deploy a city wide wi-fi network with free public access. Much of the equipment has been donated, but New Orleans will own and operate the network. Interestingly, they are only able to do this while a state of emergency remains in place as technically their planned 512Kbps service violates state law prohibiting municipalities from offering access at speeds in excess of 144Kbps, a restriction the city plans on fighting even though they will eventually outsource the whole operation."

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363 comments

Why Does State Of Emergency Last So Long? (4, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140304)

Will this be the first case of never-ending SOE similar to the never-ending Beta [slashdot.org]?

This way consumers get to use the service first, and companies get to roll out their services without having to abide strict regulations and/or an actual committment.

The disaster isn't over... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140481)

Contrary to what the government and the media would have us believe, New Orleans and the south in general is still a disaster area. New Orleans specifically still is, for the most part, the same as it was when Katrina hit. Alot of places more "important" for tourism and business have been cleaned up, but the other areas like the Ninth Ward still look like warzones. The State of Emergency may last for years.

Re:Why Does State Of Emergency Last So Long? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140634)

Most players bankrupted in 1 day, can you survive Virtual Inc? [iclod.com]
You are the biggest loser on this site, and that is saying something.
Iclod is LAME! Is your life really so awful that you need to create on in your computer?

Not Beta (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140700)

But they will declare that they suspect that WMD may be found in Venuzula, and that these are needed to stop them. With that, they will be able to get a White house override. I mean, think of the children. :)

Hmmmm...... (4, Insightful)

8127972 (73495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140315)

Free WiFi while significant portions of their population are still displaced and / or homeless.

Perhaps their priorities are a bit backward?

Re:Hmmmm...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140343)

Or perhaps they're capable of working on multiple things in parallel?

Re:Hmmmm...... (1)

Fenresulven (516459) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140360)

Ohh I don't know, personally I consider web access to be just slightly less important than electricity and I'm willing to bet that getting decent web access installed, regardless of it being cable, ADSL or something else, is next to impossible in New Orleans at the moment.

Re:Hmmmm...... (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140404)

"Perhaps their priorities are a bit backward?"

Well, for the majority of us...it is a circular hell to rebuild. We want to rebuild homes..but, have to wait till FEMA sets new flood plain standards...have to see if you have to raise your house or no insurance. And we're waiting to see if we can get long term commitment to rebuild the levee system...to withstand CAT 5 storms...without that, not much use in rebuilding.

Funny...the politicos couldn't fall over each other fast enough for 9/11...but, sure don't seem to be too excited to help us down here.

Frankly, if we could get our fair share of royalties for letting all the oil/gas be mined on and off our coast...get the 40%-50% that other states do when natural resources like oil are harvested (many interior states)...revenue that we've not had, but, should have for years...we could easily take care of ourselves and build a system that would make Holland blush. It is money that is ours, and should be ours...but, we can't seem to get it out of congress.

Sorry...easy to get carried away on the soapbox...it is so frustrating down here...a total clusterfuck doesn't even come close to describing it...

Re:Hmmmm...... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140464)

to withstand CAT 5 storms

With the wireless tech you could alleviate the need to run Cat5. And what do you mean by storms - does it tangle and you get mad?

Re:Hmmmm...... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140518)

You'll be better off as soon as you give up the pipe dream of Federal support. Why should I have to pay for all the idiots who build their houses below sea level?

I also live in Hurricane country. (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140669)

So I do understand. But "Frankly, if we could get our fair share of royalties for letting all the oil/gas be mined on and off our coast...get the 40%-50% that other states do when natural resources like oil are harvested (many interior states)...revenue that we've not had, but, should have for years..."
Those land off the coast doesn't belong to the states it belongs to the federal government. That being said I am all for LA and Mississippi getting it to rebuild.
Levee's for a CAT 5? Which CAT 5? 195mph? or 250mph? CAT 5 is doesn't have a maximum so saying it will withstand a CAT 5 is sort of wishful thinking.

Having been through 3 hurricanes in the last 13 months I have a clue to how big a mess it is. We got lucky in that we didn't get any major flooding or storm surge but the weeks without power, the destroyed homes, and so on is enough. We still have people in Fema trailers from last year storms trying to get there homes fixed.
Good luck.
Get a new Mayor and Gov. They sucked. Our Mayor had our school buses prepositioned at the shelters to evacuate everyone last year and did the same this year. They also used them to evacuate anyone that was too poor to leave on their own before the storm. Also we have every assisted care facility and hospital as part of our emergence action plan. Not to mention we had food and water and sanitation at all of our shelters and enough shelter space outside of surge zones. We had not had a direct hit here in 40+ years before last year but they still had prepared better than New Orleans and the State of LA. I know this because a friend of mine works at our EOC.
BTW my local church sent about 150 people the help in Mississippi. Other groups from our faith went to LA as well. I believe we sent about 5000 people in total and a few million in cash. Of course not a month after we went we got hit by Wilma.

Re:Hmmmm...... (3, Insightful)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140716)

We want to rebuild homes..but, have to wait till FEMA sets new flood plain standards...have to see if you have to raise your house or no insurance.

Do you know why you have to wait for FEMA? Because the government is the only organization stupid enough to offer flood insurance. No private company in the US offers "flood insurance". And, if the government did as it should, and got out of the flood insurance business, then my tax dollars would not be wasted on rebuilding your house in an obvious flood zone. You could just move to, you know, higher ground, and start rebuilding right away.

Sorry if this appears to be a flame...but it is the truth.

If we could get our fair share of royalties for letting all the oil/gas be mined on and off our coast...get the 40%-50% that other states do when natural resources like oil are harvested (many interior states)...revenue that we've not had, but, should have for years.

Well, for one example, Alaskan oil is actually located within the physical boundaries of the State of Alaska. Last time I looked at a map, the Gulf of Mexico was outside of Louisiana/Mississippi territorial borders. So, I disagree, you don't deserver a penny in royalties--since you don't "own" the oil. For that matter, the State of Alaska shouldn't be profiting (because State Government's also don't own oil), but that is another question.

Re:Hmmmm...... (3, Informative)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140414)

Free WiFi while significant portions of their population are still displaced and / or homeless.

According to TFA, this will provide a huge time savings for inspectors and police. The WiFi is directly improving rebuilding efforts in a number of ways. It's likely much easier and cheaper to provide free wireless for it all than it is to set up a security mechanism to give access only to government officials.

Perhaps their priorities are thought out well?

Re:Hmmmm...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140431)

Pff, the vast majority of "their population" aren't even in New Orleans anymore. If they want them back, they're going to have to do better than Bush's "below prevailing wages" to get them back. People have houses to repair and rebuild, doing so will require the return of real employers paying real wages, who will require the return of real infrastructure, which will require the return of people to build it. Someone's gotta break the loop somewhere, and since the federal government seems hellbent on fucking things up even worse when they're there as if to prove that things were better off when they weren't, it's down to local government to say "screw the system, we're doing this our way".

It is a shame that they picked socialist internet access, instead of something more likely to be useful like socialist housing, but you've gotta start small, and I'm sure that whatever company donated all that equipment is getting a nice tax writeoff and is first in line to get paid running the thing if NO manages to get it legitimized.

Re:Hmmmm...... (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140554)

Free wireless internet access gives enormous bang for the buck compared to housing, and it will be a draw for business and residents. If I was considering moving there, free internet would be about the same draw as lowering the house price by $5,000 to $10,000. Giving a $5,000 per house subsidy will be far more expensive than laying out an inexpensive but very usefull wireless system.

Re:Hmmmm...... (-1, Troll)

zulux (112259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140524)

Perhaps their priorities are a bit backward?

New Orleans has alwas had bad priorities...

They'd rather party and have a good time than build decent levies.

They'd rather collect welfare than get out and work.

They'd rather have children out of wedlock, than get merried. ...New Orleans was a party town and they paid the price.

Let's hope the New-New Orleans gets some decent priorites.

Re:Hmmmm...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140628)

god I wish I could mod you -5 retarded

when half your city is still running off generators while they begin cleanup and restoration wifi will be a godsend

your comment is borderline racist, all those ******s need is a shack and some food and then we done our job uh hunh

Re:Hmmmm...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140637)

Sadly, you are 100% right. This whole NOLA affair with Katrina makes me sick. Criminals working for FEMA, guns being confiscated from law-abiding citizenry so they are left defenseless against marauding gangs... and now they are to get Wi-Fi. In the Houston TX area you cannot find workers to do contruction or installation work - they're all in NOLA making big $$$ while the sun shines. Its a waste of tax money fixing it up. Fence it off and move on. Are we stupid enough to do this all over again next year, and the year after? Are we purposely teasing nature to send us a bigger storm and finish the job?
Backwards priorities? These guys make Bukina Faso look like a 1st World model of democracy!

They meant "free" WiFi (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140321)



Note that nothing a government offers is truly free, even in the case here where the hardware is mostly donated.

Government-run programs are generally maintained by unionized public workers. These programs have little competition and often cost more than a private competitive market (note [ncpa.org] municipal water reclamation costs).

The city mentions they'll outsource the program to private companies, but do you believe these companies won't be owned by cronies? Even New Orleans has their own version of Haliburton.

Is providing Internet access ever a city's responsible? In my town we have 3 city-wide free WiFi providers and 20 local "coffee shop" providers. I don't see why New Orleans feels that they're needing a taxpayer funded ISP when what they really need is a tax hiatus to bring businesses and entrepreneurs to LA to create jobs and better lives that jobs help to build.

The hurricane damage is evidence to me of the decay of government projects and the wasted taxpayer money. That money would produce a safer city with more jobs if it was left to the citizens.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (5, Insightful)

flyinwhitey (928430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140383)

As long as I consider the Library a government responsibility, I have to say the same about internet access.

There is no fundamental difference to me, and universal access to information is the kind of thing I would be proud to pay taxes for.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (4, Insightful)

greysky (136732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140568)

Say what you want about "universal access to information", but government-funded free wifi isn't necessarily a good thing. Keep in mind that this could severely hurt ISP that were already devastated by the hurricane. If you can get wifi for free, then why pay for a service that is offered by company X? Having a bandwidth limitation seems to me a good solution, as people who can't afford access can still get it, but just not at the speeds they could if they paid for it. To take your library analogy to the next level, the library only lets you have n number of books at a time, and you have to return them. You have to pay a bookstore to have books at a "higher bandwidth", which in turn helps the economy.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140674)

As long as I consider the Library a government responsibility, I have to say the same about internet access.

Everyone already has basic internet access.

The telephone line.

If you mean the ability to d/l the distro of the week, while simultaneously sharing out several gig of mp3's, then you and I differ about what 'government responsibility' is.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

justin_speers (631757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140721)

As long as I consider the Library a government responsibility, I have to say the same about internet access. There is no fundamental difference to me, and universal access to information is the kind of thing I would be proud to pay taxes for.

I'm so happy you feel that way. Unfortunately, I don't. Taxes are mandatory, and they are only necessary to fund programs that people wouldn't be willing to pay for voluntarily. When you support a tax program to implement 'free' wifi, you are advocating using the Government to steal from others in order to implement a program that you personally support. All of this in a city which has far more pressing concerns than setting up a giant wifi network.

Once Governments start controlling internet access, whether through free wifi or any other method, they will start regulating content. There is no maybe about it, they will. Look at our "public airwaves." Look at what the FCC is doing to Howard Stern every time he says the word boob.

I have no interest in taxpayer funded wifi. Neither do the vast majority of people running around New Orleans, simply trying to survive. It's something only the most arrogant, progressive sort of nerd could advocate.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140400)

uuh? id love to have even ONE free wifi provider in my city or the two cities close to where i live.
you dont appreciate wifi until you dont got it.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140439)

Most cities are taking this step out of frustration at the lack of commercial provision. If your city has good commercial service, probably no one will bother proposing municipal wireless. Many of us are stuck with telecomms that prefer not to risk existing profits by rocking the boat.

I'm a libertarian type too, and I think the free market is the best solution, but it's not what we currently have. The big corporate near-monopolies we're dealing with here are a far cry from what Adam Smith advocated...in fact, he warned against big corporations, as did some of the American founding fathers.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140570)

I am against publicly-licensed corporations entirely (anarchocapitalists generally are).

The main reason many municipalities don't have decent broadband has to do with the towns' own laws regarding who can run cable. So many towns have been bribed by megacomm corporations to writing laws restricting the ability of others in running information cables.

Running cable or communication wire is not that expensive by any means (I worked with a company that used to provide maintenance for private trunks). You can run your own ISP if you co-op with 10-40 of your neighbors at a very decent price.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140469)

Is providing Internet access ever a city's responsible?

I think that every government with the people's interests in mind is interested in providing them with access to information. To that end, everywhere you can't get a decent net connection (I'm lucky if I can get 31.2kbps on my dialup, because all the copper in Lake County, CA, USA is craptacular legacy pacbell stuff) should be looking at providing free wifi. It's not all that expensive to do if you do it cheaply in the first place and if the market responds with an alternative you can always just sell it off to a private company. It also helps prevent monopolies; the free market can come in and implement something better, then you can sell your solution off to some other company who can run it.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140543)

So? You can blame your city for the lack of broadband -- many towns have impossible laws regarding communications companies, or they're paid off by the main megacomm company to restrict what smaller businesses can do.

You can do what I did for a few years: get together with 20 of your neighbors and co-op a T1 line. Run a decent central antenna for WiFi service, cap it at 1MB or so, and you're setup. You'd pay about $35/household. Don't blame your town for your lack of initiative.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140714)

HAHAHAHAHA. 20 people on a T1. Cable is approx. four times faster [downstream] and I have no problem saturating cable all by myself. I can actually get cable where I live, but I can't afford it right now (A friend hooked me up with his SBC dialup, so I am currently paying $0.) Amusingly, I'm just about the only person at work who ever uses the 'net, and we do have a mere T1. Anyway, I definitely cannot afford all of the crap I'd need to run a T1 with anything like reliability and I live in an extremely hilly area (the whole county is, really, unless you're in the middle of a town) where your suggestion would not work well. I probably couldn't find 20 people to whom I have LoS who would be interested, and as I am way the fuck away from the CO, mileage charges would fucking kill me. I'm not even sure I have LoS to 20 people, period. In order to do WiFi here, you'd have to put some antennas on top of some hills/mountains, of which there are many.

Quoi? (5, Insightful)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140480)

That money would produce a safer city with more jobs if it was left to the citizens.

Last I checked, in this country, the government is composed of -- gasp -- citizens, not space aliens from Uranus. At what point did Americans forget the "of, by, and for the people" routine? Why should a state or federal authority be telling the citizens of a town that they can't do whatever they blinking well please as far as public works projects? So the _citizens_ get together and say, golly, we can all chip in ten bucks and we'll have a wonderful benefit for our community that is worth far more than ten bucks to each citizen.

What's next? Gee, sorry Podunksville, you can't build a public park with a toilet. You need to sell the land off to a private developer so you can have the privilege of paying to sit on the grass or take a leak.

I don't see how this is any different.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140549)

Spending a couple hundred hours to bolt boxes to a street light and wire it in is far different in terms of cost than giving thousands of business each thousands of dollars in tax breaks.

As far as the cronyism goes, that could be best taken care of by requiring the contract to be re-bid each year and going with the cheapest bid from a qualified agency. You can't just force the lowest bid by law in these situations. I've seen numerous occassions where "lowest bid" regulations waste money by giving the contract to a shady company which deliver substandard products or sometimes nothing at all.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

idamaybrown (584881) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140564)

Actually "Free" Wi-Fi is only free to some people. Most will pay for it in other ways - taxes.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140597)

Government-run programs are generally maintained by unionized public workers. These programs have little competition and often cost more than a private competitive market (note municipal water reclamation costs).

In many cases you are correct. In a normal market, it is usually a poor idea to have the government run any service or provide any product with three major exceptions. The first exception is when the free market has failed, or when the service is in the best interests of the public as a whole but is too expensive for a need market segment. For example, a new medication that completely eliminates the HIV virus is invented, but costs a considerable amount of money to provide. Because the majority of people who have HIV cannot afford this medication, HIV continues to spread throughout the population and the overall medical and social costs of the disease far outweigh the initial cost if the government just distributed the medication to anyone who needed it.

The second instance is when there is an overriding concern for the continuation of the government. Services that fall into this category include the police, military, legal system, etc.

The final instance is when the service in question is a monopoly due to natural or government imposed restrictions. Public street lights are on example of this. Electric companies also fall into this category. Due to government restrictions only one set of power lines are allowed on the government owned right of ways to and from houses. As a result, only one company, the one who owns these lines, can offer the service of power distribution. With no competition a for profit company is not subject to the normal market pressures that would motivate good prices and quality and the end result is disastrous for end users. As a result the government ends up stepping in and creating a "regulated" monopoly where they try to balance the benefits to the people and to the companies which results in corruption on a huge scale as companies lobby and offer other incentives to individuals within the government and occasionally use legal maneuverings to get around the regulation (see California). This results in not only substandard service, but also to corrupt government, two major problems.

The wi-fi service New Orleans is planning to offer probably does not fit into either of the first two categories, but it does, somewhat, fit into the third. That is because it is using certain frequencies of the RF spectrum that are regulated by the government as a scarce resource. So long as nothing restricts multiple vendors from offering wi-fi in this spectrum then I think it is probably best that New Orleans leaves it to the free market. Still wi-fi is close to being a utility so there is certainly room for debate on the subject.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140677)

Note that nothing a government offers is truly free, even in the case here where the hardware is mostly donated.

That is a useless definition of the word "free". With that definition, nothing anywhere is ever free, because someone, somewhere paid for it. It is free because it is offered for no charge. That is the definition of free. That everything requires that there be some cost associated is irrelevant. It is obvious that there is always a cost associated with everything. Free isn't about what it costs the person providing the "free" item or service. Free is what it costs the person that is using it. So it is free, "free" or whatever else you want to call it. Making up new definitions for words won't help the matter.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

peter_gzowski (465076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140683)

Government-run programs are generally maintained by unionized public workers. These programs have little competition and often cost more than a private competitive market (note municipal water reclamation costs).

That sentiment can be true, but the key word there is "competitive". Where little competition exists, such as in the ISP business, the profit margins of the private companies are far more expensive than the extra cost of unionized workers. Maybe if the FCC stopped pretending that everything's fine when it comes to the US's track record WRT broadband provision, and the government instituted regulations such as Canada's, which forces infrastructure owners to lease out their pipes at reasonable rates, then we can rely on private companies to provide cost-effective internet access. If that doesn't happen, than I'm fine with municipalities like New Orleans and Philadelphia providing what the private sector has utterly failed at.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

The_Hun (693418) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140697)

If I remember well my economics classes, public ownership can be a working solution if it's hard to exclude someone from benefiting from the given service - wireless access seems to be such a service.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

bleckywelcky (518520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140729)

The food at the local soup kitchen is not truly free because I have to walk my ass over there to get it. Until the government is willing to come into my house and feed me intravenously while I'm lying in bed, I'm going to act indignant because I don't want to have to search out, chew, or digest my own food. F'ing government is always trying to screw me over with their supposedly "free" services that have all these hidden requirements.

Re:They meant "free" WiFi (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140752)


That money would produce a safer city with more jobs if it was left to the citizens.

And you don't wanna be messin with thousands of armed Cajuns - they got pushed out of their homes a couple hundred hears ago, and they ain't movin. Let them take care of stuff.

Confession: I'm half Acadian.

Uhhh (2, Funny)

garrett714 (841216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140326)

I honestly hope this isn't their only solution for hurricanes / floods in the future.

Re:Uhhh (3, Funny)

iSeal (854481) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140458)

net send 192.168.*.* Please Evacuate. Incoming Hurricane.

"Um sir, wasn't that disabled in XP SP2?"
"Crap."

WOW...I live here and this is the first I've heard (2, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140332)

I've not heard about this down here yet. It would be nice...but, frankly, without power and gas to be able to live back at my place...this isn't much use.

I did find it useful the other day, to go to Cooter Brown's [cooterbrowns.com] and use their wireless while watching some football, and drinking some good beer...

Free wi-fi is important (2, Interesting)

eobanb (823187) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140345)

for narrowing the digital divide. I usually hate over-used politicised terms like 'digital divide' but regardless, it does exist, and free widespread personal net access is key to spreading information to more people. While internet access from libraries and such is great, it's better still to have access in one's home.

Imagine if electricity was not a public utility but a service offered by two or three price-gouging regional monopolies. A quick comparison of US broadband penetration and Europe's (largely) socialised system demonstrates why these sorts of projects are needed.

Re:Free wi-fi is important (1)

garrett714 (841216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140376)

You should read the post above yours. This isn't about the "digital divide" or getting information to more people. The whole point is, what good is free WiFi internet when most people don't even have a house to live in. Too me it just seems like an incredible waste of taxpayer's money when it could be spent on rebuilding the destroyed city they live in.

Re:Free wi-fi is important (1)

EiZei (848645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140465)

Imagine if electricity was not a public utility but a service offered by two or three price-gouging regional monopolies. A quick comparison of US broadband penetration and Europe's (largely) socialised system demonstrates why these sorts of projects are needed.

Well, socialised internet connectivity is not as common in Europe than most americans think. Forcing telecoms to compete by making them lease their copper etc. has worked wonders.

Re:Free wi-fi is important (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140606)

Forcing telecoms to compete by making them lease their copper etc. has worked wonders.

Oh? Let's see, I can get dsl access through sbc or, uh...huh.

Yeah, or sbc. There is no one else in my area, and I'll be god damned if I give sbc a penny.

Public operated city wide wifi paid through taxes is the way to force competition. SBC ( and other carriers ) would have to have a really good package for people to want to use it ( normal people. I'm sure the wifi wouldn't work for the geeks out there ).

Re:Free wi-fi is important (3, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140494)

I see the digital divide as caused by inept social programs, not fixed by them. The anti-poor and anti-minority regulations we have today destroy the access you want. Look at how the minimum wage [mises.org] destroys job opportunities for the poor and for minorities. The tax system we have in this country is even worse (most people pay only a tiny amount in actual IRS income tax but everyone pays a huge amount of their income for all the other taxes) for the poor.

If you want to help the poor and the minorities break this digital divide, you need for them to have opportunities in life that give them reason to learn about the Internet and about information freedom. Our public education system does the absolutely opposite, as it gives the poor a basically free daycare system that offers their offspring the indoctrination in the system that hurt their parents' desire to break free.

The only thing that really helps bring wealth to the poor is work -- hard work. Both my parents came to the U.S. with absolutely nothing, not even good comprehension of the language. Yet they both busted their rears so that my siblings and I would have better lives, and I work hard so that my children will have an even better opportunity.

Don't blame the lack of Internet knowledge on ISPs. I'd rather see privated completely deregulated electrical service as well.

Re:Free wi-fi is important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140519)

Every time a minimum wage increase has been proposed, libertarians have hollared about all the jobs that will be lost.

And every time the minimum wage has been increased, the predicted catastrophy has not happened.

Re:Free wi-fi is important (4, Insightful)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140633)

I'd rather see privated completely deregulated electrical service as well.

When will you anarcho-capitalists actually take economics 100.

Given
A) A service that has a near zero elasticity of demand in relation to price
B) Is infrastructure

(Things Fitting A&B: Roads, Water, Sewer, Power, phone, cable, electricity, gas)
You CANNOT deregulate, you CANNOT expect the "Free market" to ensure quality and low price.

Infrastructure doesn't follow the normal rules because it's something that should not be duplicated concurrently - imagine having two roads systems, or two seperate water systems, power etc - there isn't the space to do it and the costs are prohibitive. This prevents normal competitive practices of the free-market and favors large intrenched monopolies

Have you not been paying attention? power was deregulated in some areas - it resulted in artificially created roving blackouts to give the impression that demand exceeded supply so that price-gouging could occur.

Adam Smith himself said that capitalism needs enforced rules to keep all parties treating each other fairly - why can you not recognize this?

Re:Free wi-fi is important (2, Informative)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140736)

Have you not been paying attention? power was deregulated in some areas - it resulted in artificially created roving blackouts to give the impression that demand exceeded supply so that price-gouging could occur.

Apparently you haven't been paying that much attention. Most of Cali's problems came from partial deregulation. Wholesale prices were deregulated, but not consumer prices. That's a disaster waiting to happen.

Now, PA has had a much more deregulated power economy. How many rolling blackouts have you seen there? Or in the UK? Just wondering.

Re:Free wi-fi is important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140676)

As other people pointed out, the problem in NO isn't whether some company has been disadvantaged by the government offering some service, it's that the wrong services are being offered. Months later, and several wards of New Orleans are still completely uninhabited. Free internet isn't going to get people to come back when their homes are buried in mud or knocked flat.

Of course, not sure what your minimum wage rant has to do with this, even below prevailing wage as authorized by Bush, nobody's exactly rushing back to get a job when they can't even get into their house. Paying these people even less isn't going to get their house repaired faster, and something tells me that even if a company managed to scrape together people willing to build houses at $3 an hour, that the company is not going to sell those houses at a price their $3 workers could afford. It's been pretty clear since Ford's death that his lessons have long since been forgotten.

Re:Free wi-fi is important (5, Insightful)

FatRatBastard (7583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140581)

Yes, because the digital divide is chock-full of people who are able to afford a laptop/desktop with a wi-fi card, but can't afford basic dial-up service. And as you can imagine, that's a large, large group.

And slightly OT, but I'm going to laugh very hard and very long when the first "Municipal Wi-Fi blocking content" story hits /. Because we all know elected officials never want to block the citizens they represent from information....

well, with kids yeah. We have to protect the kids. And you know how irresposible some parents can be. So lets put a huge filter on porn coming down the pipe. Tax dollars shouldn't pay for porn anyway.

Oh, and smoking. Bad. Very bad. Lets ban any site that promotes smoking. Promotion of all things smoking over publicly financed wi-fi? I think not! You might as well just shove smokes in babies mouths.

What? This site offends the sensiblities of [fill in religious group/cult of choice]? Block them too. We're all fine, upstanding [christians, jews, muslims, hindis, scientologists] and there's no way our community should have to see this.

What? People are going to RELIGIOUS sites? Hasn't anyone heard of the seperation of church and state? If someone wants to cyber-pray let them pay for their own access.

Hate speech. Who doesnt' hate hate speech? Of course! Its gone. ("by the way, what is hate speech?" "Ah.. the devil's in the details")

Wal Mart? Do we really want our citizens helping keep that community killing, baby eating, spawn of satan corperation in business by allowing them to purchase cheap shit over our wi-fi? I think not! If you want to destroy mom and pop shops do it on your own nickel. ...

But rudiments need to be in place! (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140599)

I have some extended family that's not well off. (Think: low-income housing) They want to "have it all" but don't at all have the resources to do it well. (Think: Pentium-100, Win95)

Using the cheapest ISP imaginable. It's amazing to me how much time they'll spend just trying to get online, and how much !@#!@# they'll put up with their painfully slow, virus-laden computer, just for the status and joy of "being online".

They put up with the unbelievable to save $40. (Cost of antivirus) They do not understand the fundamentals of computing, nor do they have the resources to pay somebody who does.

It's a Spammer's paradise, this "free" municipal Wifi. How do communities prevent this from happening?

Hopefully... (1)

Tahir Azhar (916001) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140350)

..the wireless infrastructure is being installed to be hurricane resistant.

Re:Hopefully... (1)

garrett714 (841216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140422)

I completely agree... how are they going to ensure that the wireless system continues to work in the event of disaster when even the levees wouldn't hold up, things that have been designed by engineers. I don't see how a wireless antenna is really gonna stand up to 150mph winds when houses are crumbling to the ground.

FREE WI-FI IN NEW ORLEANS!!!! (4, Funny)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140352)

...for all five residents.

Re:FREE WI-FI IN NEW ORLEANS!!!! (1)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140592)

You're forgetting the hard-core rat bastards who won't leave until the roaches give up the ghost.

You're also forgetting the looters. And I don't mean Nagin, FEMA, or the contractors, although they certainly do qualify.

Wifi in an unhabited place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140364)

Why do they need wifi there? Is there anybody still living in the swamps?

Another thing for NO to mis-manage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140365)

Much of the equipment has been donated, but New Orleans will own and operate the network.

Great yet another service for the NO government to screw up. They've shown they can't organize anything, how will they be able to handle city wide WiFi?

How long after it is a total flop before they start blaming Bush for NE WiFi not working? I say less than 1 day.

Re:Another thing for NO to mis-manage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140631)

Hahaha yea, fuck em!

Yes, but does it work underwater? (4, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140387)

Cool! Now New Orleans residents will have the connectivity they need in order to email an SOS to FEMA, so they can come rescue them!

This is much a better solution than spending that money on something as trivial as a safe levee system or housing for homeless people. This free wi-fi is actually working out quite well for them.

"Safe levee system" (2, Informative)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140558)

November Scientific American makes it clear that, owing to bad decisions made by the Army Corps of Engineers years ago, the timescale to solve the problems of New Orleans could be many years. Improving communications throughout the city will not make a significant dent in the funds available to solve the delta problems - which could run into tens of billions of dollars.

Re:Yes, but does it work underwater? (1)

garrett714 (841216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140588)

I understand that his comment is sarcastic, but +3 troll? C'mon, he brings up some good points, this money should be spent on new levees and housing instead of "Free WiFi for all"

Can you imagine how pissed off you would be if you were in New Orleans right now and hear they are giving out free WiFi but your family still has nowhere to sleep for the night?

my 4 y.o. daughter (1)

ericcantona (858624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140657)

quite right.
for some reason something my 4 y.o. daughter knows that seems beyond US city planners:
"the foolish man built his house upon the sand ... the wise man built his house upon the rocks"
seriously; who on earth builds a city below w/level next to the sea ?!

Re:Yes, but does it work underwater? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140611)

Why all the cynicism?

I live and work in New Orleans. I'm writing this post from my home office in New Orleans. (so I guess that would make 6 people in NOLA now, right?) There are people that are trying to make things better here - for the present and the future.

My cable internet access is spotty at best. A reliable, wireless solution provided by the city has many benefits - as mentioned by multiple posters.

How about finding some other down-and-out situation to practice your sarcasm on? New Orleans has been kicked around enough.

Okay, my point is... (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140720)

Sorry for the sarcasm if it offended you. I wanted to write something witty, and apparently it didn't go over well. I personally have nothing against New Orleans or free Wifi, I just think that instead of the mayor planning on building casinos and free wifi, the money could be better spent on 3 things that are needed immediately:

1) Housing for displaced residents who have nothing to plug their computers in to
2) Food and water for those who are hungry, including stray pets
3) Subsidies for businesses who need help getting back on their feet, which in turn, hires more New Orleans residents who will then possibly buy a computer and use wifi

Again, I hope the best for New Orleans and its residents who have suffered in many different ways. There is a better future ahead!

Don't they worry about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140390)

Don't they worry about flooding the public wavelenghts?

Brings new meaning to "wardriving" (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140393)

Well, since no one can actually live in the New Orleans area, I guess we could all just drive through with our laptops...

Re:Brings new meaning to "wardriving" (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140486)

"Well, since no one can actually live in the New Orleans area..."

Well, according to the traffic down here...it is coming back. Trouble is...so many jobs, but, no housing for people to work them. They can't get hourly workers here to work the fast food or other jobs on that level.

It is trying to come to life back here again...but, it is tough. I'm actually lucky...I live on the edge of the Lakeview area...I had 7ft of water at my place, but, I was renting the top floor of a house...my stuff was completely spared. However, they don't predict power to my area for another month...even then, they have to rewire most of the house..and get inspected and permits before they can turn the power on to the house itself. And gas? Well, they say that was so messed up, there is NO estimate on when that will be hooked up. Right now..I think it would be optimistic to get back in there by March...for now, I'm trying not to wear my welcome out too much at any one of my friends' homes. Hoping to get a fema trailer in the near future....

It is quite a surreal life down here...

Future Emergency Communications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140394)

Perhaps this can be used to provide a backup communications system when the next hurricane hits? After watching a couple of documentaries on my local PBS affiliate, one of the key points of failure in the emergency response was a lack of organized (technical) communications between state, local, and federal agencies.

Even Though (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140421)

Even though the idea is rather diturbing, just think of the people that are in New Orleans. It is a good thing for those who have businesses open, though a few but will grow, and families that don't have telephone up yet. At least they can get news and communicate with people. At least the equipment was also donated and not bought with funds for rebuilding/rescue.

What about the ISP's? (2, Insightful)

xoip (920266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140434)

Not only have they lost customers and equipment...now they have to compete with the Gov't...so much for free enterprise

Re:What about the ISPs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140496)

I wouldn't worry about it. They're making enough profits by overcharging the rest of us to make up for it.

Re:What about the ISP's? (1)

furiouscommie (910317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140504)

Not only have they lost customers and equipment...now they have to compete with the Gov't...so much for free enterprise

Yes, because our poor, struggling local ISPs were so horribly hurt by the hurricanes... . The government is providing a service that they REFUSE to provide, I don't see how that stifles free enterprise.

New Orleans needs this. Phones are still out. (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140438)

Most of the city still doesn't have phone service. Getting enough WiFi up that people can use VoIP and get some basic web services will be a big help.

Interesting.. all the neg. and missing the point (5, Interesting)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140503)

I'm surprised at all the negativity about this.

I'm also suprised at the lack of debate at the /real/ meat in this article - the fact that the big ISPs have already lobbied in places to hobble the speed of such WiFi networks.

I think this is going to become a huge issue as WiFi and WiMax take off.

My subdivision has some 500 houses in it. If half of them get high speed internet in some form, at $50/month they are paying out some $12,500 a month collectively for high speed internet access.

What if our subdivision decided to set up it's own WiFi network? Yeah, I can see the ISPs getting real nervous about this.

Also, I can see Cell Phone companies getting VERY nervous about this. If WiFi internet access becomes free and widespread, you won't need the cellular network anymore to make wireless phone calls. Just a portable wireless IP phone.

No wonder the big Telecom industries are out to squelch this.

Steve

What I want to know is . . . (2, Funny)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140551)

WHY is it illegal for municipalities to provide free (tax-supported) wi-fi? The only justification I've heard is that this will prevent private industry from being able to make a profit from providing this same service (which in this day and age IS a utility, not a luxury).

Y'know, if the same mentality were applied to some existing government services . . .

(Caller): Help! My house is on fire!

(Phone voice): Do you have a FlameOut (tm) customer ID number?

(Caller): No, but my house is burning! My children are in there--Please help me!

(Phone voice): I'm sorry, but since you're not a FlameOut (tm) customer, I can't help you. However, we will be rolling our FlameOut (tm) Wagons to protect your neighbor, who I see is a subscriber in good standing. Thank you for notifying us of this condition and have a nice day.

{CLICK}

Re:What I want to know is . . . (0, Troll)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140699)

Or with cops:

"Muggers want to kill and rob you? Sure, we'll be on our way, just as soon as you pay up on your overdue bill."

or:

"Yes, there were gun toting maniacs in the streets shooting people, and yes some of those people were our customers. But since there were over 50 people in the vacinity, that technically makes it a riot, and they didn't have coverage for riots. Now if they'd signed up for our Premium Protection Plan, on the other hand...."

This nice summary of privitization run amock was from a Punisher 2099 comic, of all things. So yes, Libertarians, taxes and public services can be a good thing.

Newsflash - NewOrleans Deploys AP's on levy walls. (1)

alta (1263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140556)

So when the levy breaks, no one will really care about the wifi, they'll be getting the hell out of town. And since the wifi will go down, they won't be distracted by silly things like Everquest.

Now, for the EMS services, backup APs will all be installed on inflatable begnets. They only come on once their depth gauge reaches 4'.

When the levy breaks... I'll have no place to stay

And remember (3, Insightful)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140569)

This is the same New Orleans that had over 30% of its PD leave or actively engage in the unlawful activities plaguing it post-Katrina. This is the same New Orleans which is legendary for its corrupt local government and in a state that is almost synonymous with bad government to most southerners.

Yet it's going to do a "good job" running WiFi. One of these days, the starry-eyed true believers will come to the painful realization that "democracy" has no proven track record on keeping governments working for the people and that local governments are one of the last groups you'd want to trust to run your communication network.

Besides, let's just go ahead and put telescreens in our homes. It just blows my mind how anyone can in one breath whole-heartedly support government operation and/or ownership of the com. network and then complain about the Bush administration wiretapping us all a la 1984. Why not go ahead and put your toddler in a locked room with a dingo and then get self-righteously pissed off when your toddler gets mauled and eaten? Afterall, it's THEIR fault, right?

Bullshit. You give the government control over the com. network on that scale and when your precious civil liberties go out the window, you'll be one of the few victims of bad government to legitimately laughed at by succeeding generations. The government will assert its sovereignty and say, "it's our network, use it our way or get off." Then you'll look around and there won't be any competition because your tax dollars subsidize the network to the point that the private sector cannot compete.

All in the name of giving "poor" people (our poor are middle class by African standards) access to a network that all too often their volunary refusal to make use of their socialized education opportunities have rendered them incapable of exploiting.

Unfortunately... (1)

pmike_bauer (763028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140574)

...due to mismanagement of funds, the New Orleans Wi-Fi system will only be able to withstand a CAT 2 slashdotting.

Re:Unfortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140698)

Damn I wish I still had mod points for this one. Not very often I laugh out loud at comments.

AM Radio (2, Insightful)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140586)

When I was involved in a week long power outage in Norfolk are after hurricane Isabel (2003) I found battery powered AM radio to be the best source of information. The announcers worked overtime and did a great job of letting us know what was going one. NOLA has WWl which can be picked up over much of the US - I listen to it to get first hand info on whats happening there. It's simple, cheap, and works.

Re:AM Radio (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140616)

gezus, three typos:

>Norfolk are after -> Norfolk area after
>what was going one -> what was going on
>NOLA has WWl -> NOLA has WWL

Wow, doesn't this just... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140603)

New Orleans will deploy a city wide wi-fi network with free public access.

Wow, this just makes me want to come back in live in a crime-ridden city with the worst police force and most corrupt politicians in the country, x-number of feet below sea level protected by dikes and levies constructed by the lowest bidder. Yup, free Wi-Fi will certainly make all the difference here.

Restriction? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14140605)

Why the hell is there a 144Kbps restriction?

Re:Restriction? (3, Insightful)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140620)

Why the hell is there a 144Kbps restriction?

Duh! It's because someone was paid a nice chunk of change to put it there.

Re:Restriction? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140682)

I wonder if there is a set duration on that speed. i.e. over how long is it measured. If it is not codified, then they can easily offer 144Kb/s as an average speed when measured over the next 50 years (per computer). Any computer that downloads more than 26TB is kicked off until 2055...

Priorities??????? (3, Insightful)

acoustix (123925) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140660)

It seems to me they have more important goals than providing free wifi at this point. I can think of several:

-schools
-police
-electricity
-water
-sewage

I could go on, but you get the point.

-Ncik

This will be an interesting experiment in....... (1)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14140688)

municipal wi-fi. It is going to come down to a competition between municipal funded wi-fi vs. ad funded wi-fi, with the later ultimatly wining out. As computers and wi-fi hardware gets cheaper, we will definitly see ads be sufficient to fund the hardware/support needed. Corporations can sell ad space more efficiently than govt. so I think we'll see them win in the end when hardware gets cheap enough. For now, there's a short period of time where this model makes sense. In any case, this will be interesting.
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