New Orleans needs free WiFi to help it rebuild. I happily posted that New Orleans was going this route back in November of 2005. There were some setbacks with other companies fighting Earthlink, and then the driving force behind this, Greg Meffert, resigned. But things were moving forward. Then yesterday I heard from Earthling that Earthlink's WiFi system was up and running in much of New Orleans. Great. But it's not in my neighborhood. In a nutshell, if your neighborhood did not flood, then you have access to free WiFi, but if your neighborhood did flood, you're out of luck. The city says the service will be free as long as the city is rebuilding, but the service is only available in places that didn't flood, and hence don't need to rebuild. I would argue that the flooded neighborhoods need the WiFi access more than anywhere else in America. For example, I won't be able to get a phone line working in my house for years, and with information and building permits online, it would make much of the rebuilding process easier and safer. But for Earthlink, it's a business and not a charity. They are hoping that they will profit by selling higher-speed wireless service to those who want a faster connection on the network. Moreover, in the area now covered by Earthlink, there are many of the city's businesses. Earthlink is hoping that these businesses will purchase the faster service, and then this "will guarantee the financial viablity of the network as it moves forward."
I hope to be finished rebuilding my house in one year, 18 months at the most. It would be nice if my Mid-City neighborhood was covered by Earthlink's WiFinetwork before then.