Bell South hates Katrina victims

(via The Consumerist)

Well, that title may be a bit strong, but I like how it sounds.  After the Katrina disaster, the city of New Orleans instituted a free Wi-Fi service to help get businesses and individuals going again on the telecommunication side of a recovery.  Lobbyists from Bell South are working to get this service shut down because it violates a law restricting the government from competing with telecommunication companies.  Legally speaking, the company is correct, and the city is exceeding its legal allowed offering.  On the other hand, this is no way to build goodwill with customers.  Not that goodwill matters when you have a government assured monopoly.  But it still stinks.

One of the surprising acts of compassion and competency that came out of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was that the city began providing a free WiFi service to business owners and residents whose phone service had been wiped out. The 512 kbps service allowed many business owners to begin struggling back to their feet and corporate sponsors like Yahoo and Google were in discussion to expand the service in the coming months.

Well, no longer. Telecommunication lobbyists from Bell South have put the lean on New Orleans, demanding that the free service be outlawed. Apparently, it violates a law that prevents the public sector from competing with the telecommunication sector. By law, then, cities can provide no more than a 128 kbps service to citizens.

Again – legally, Bell South wins.  Morally, meh, it stinks.  Why don’t these massive companies do more to help people insetad of screwing consumers whenever given the chance?  Oh, that’s right – they don’t have to.  The monopolies never do.

[tags]New Orleans, Free Wi-Fi[/tags]