New Orleans becomes first city to offer FREE Wireless Internet

Nov 29, 2005 by

The Washington Post
Published November 29, 2005

Hurricane-ravaged New Orleans will deploy the nation’s first municipally owned wireless Internet system that will be free for all users, part of an effort to jump-start recovery by making living and doing business in the city as attractive as possible.

The system, which Mayor C. Ray Nagin is scheduled to announce at a news conference Tuesday, also will be used by police and for city government functions, such as speeding approval of building permits.

Much of the equipment to run the network was donated. The system, which uses devices mounted on streetlights to beam out fast Internet connections for wireless-enabled computers, is scheduled to be operational Tuesday in the central business district and the French Quarter and to be expanded over time.

But the move probably will stir the roiling national debate over localities launching their own systems.

Phone and cable companies oppose such moves as unfair competition and have gotten several states, including Louisiana, to prohibit or restrict the networks. Because New Orleans is under a state of emergency, it can skirt existing law.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

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