BellSouth Yanks NOLA Donation Over Free WiFi

BellSouthThe Washington Post reports that BellSouth didn’t take too kindly to the mayor of New Orleans using the Katrina disaster as an excuse to cut into their Internet business (via BoingBoing):

Hours after New Orleans officials announced Tuesday that they would deploy a city-owned, wireless Internet network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.

[…] City officials said BellSouth was upset about the plan to bring high-speed Internet access for free to homes and businesses to help stimulate resettlement and relocation to the devastated city. Around the country, large telephone companies have aggressively lobbied against localities launching their own Internet networks, arguing that they amount to taxpayer-funded competition. Some states have laws prohibiting them.

As much as I think BellSouth is the spawn of Satan with their crap service, they don’t deserve to get stabbed in the back by Nagin over donations in good faith. Withdrawing may be a bit harsh though over the cockamamie free WiFi scheme that may die due to bad publicity.

Update: A few of you seem to disagree with me on this, and I’m rather confused.

I must have missed the memo describing how the best course of action in recovery is to advance the ideology of socialism and free government-owned Internet. The fact is, if BellSouth or any other company had worked out a deal to give free wireless on their dime (not the taxpayers of New Orleans), I would have no problem with this — but that’s not the case here.

Instead, the mayor is taking equipment that was donated (the only silver-lining in this story) and stating that he will give away free WiFi, private initiatives be damned. And I think that is wrong.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. So, basically any company that has donated to the New Orleans disaster now no longer has to fear that the city will commit to any action that is detrimental towards the business practices of the company?

    What is the difference between this premise, and me assuming that if I donated that if I went to New Orleans and gambled I would always win afterwards? Afterall, business is just a bunch of really structured gambles is it not?

    Generally I tend to agree with posts here, but this makes little to no common or logical sense that I can make heads or tails of.

    I mean, did their donation of the damaged building come related to the decision of the city to build a wireless network? If it did is the SEC aware? What if some other provider is building the network for cheaper? Is bellsouth building the network?

    My questions in regard to this logic are endless. I love the blog but try and keep it sensible and less sensational.

    I think your personal views of Nagin are perhaps negatively affecting your journalistic integrity, if that’s something you are attempting to maintain atleast.

  2. Torfinn

    Why should taxpayers pay for services to be given away for free in New Orleans that the rest of us must pay for throughout the rest of the country? I’ll venture that federal money will be used for this project one way or the other which means the entire country is going to pay for the freebies New Orleans residents will be receiving.

    Let’s take it one step further. Maybe New Orleans government should provide satellite or cable TV at no cost. What about satellite radio? Why not crank up their own TV and radio stations locally and let taxpayers pay for them too?

    This is what you get when a socialist is in power such as Nagin.

    I am in agreement with the actions Bellsouth took. They are not obligated to give anything at anytime to the government for nothing and can decide not to give away their property if they choose.


    Think Bellsouth service leaves something to be desired? You have not experienced Qwest service in the west.