BellSouth gets all huffy on New Orleans

News & Politics

I blogged last week about New Orleans' new, free WiFi network, the first in the country to be owned by a municipality.

Not only did the various parties involved in the plan agree that establishing community internet would benefit in the growth of the city's economy, but that it would prove instrumental in coordinating future disaster responses, just as the internet did in a more ad-hoc manner during Hurricane Katrina.

But doing right by the community is clearly unsatsifactory for the forces of Disaster Capitalism. From the Washington Post on Saturday:

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.
According to the officials, the head of BellSouth's Louisiana operations, Bill Oliver, angrily rescinded the offer of the building in a conversation with New Orleans homeland security director Terry Ebbert, who oversees the roughly 1,650-member police force.
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.
Clearly, corporations like BellSouth are ethically compelled to squeeze every drop of cash from a struggling region like the Southeast. This despite the fact that the company increased its profits by 25 percent in 2004 and upped the profits by another 2.3 percent in the third quarter of this year.

Given all the incredible media consolidation going on around us, it's terribly difficult to figure out how to properly boycott BellSouth and send them a message, but if you live outside of the South, you can start by ditching your Cingular Wireless service, which BellSouth owns 40 percent of.

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