Bellsouth was going to donate an entire building to the New Orleans PD for help with rebuilding the city. They pulled out .
When they heard that New Orleans would have a free wireless internet connection spread over the entire city to help the rebuilding efforts and later draw residents back with free internet, they had very quick second thoughts.
Hopefully, they will turn their position around soon. Especially when it’s so blatantly about money over helping out the common good of human beings.
Of course, this may be the beginning of the end to the big telco position against municipal internet service if that position gets tainted as being uncompassionate in this fashion. Imagine getting internet just for paying taxes or a monthly bill along side most or all of your other utilities? Not to mention having that money flow directly into the local economy, if not towards directly improving the very network your are paying for on a daily basis? Which would you choose to put your money in? You can see why Bellsouth and others are against the idea (they are out to make money after all). Still, it’s inevitable, I think, so they’d best come up with a way to get in on the action rather than try to stop in entirely (that goes for the RIAA, too, reference Sony’s recent fun with Digital Rights Management).
On the other point, what the hell is Bellsouth thinking? This is now an age where the actions of any company can be sliced and diced within a few minutes (reference the comments at the Slashdot posting where the first comment took only two minutes to show up). They may have the corner on the market where they operate, but it doesn’t seem like they thought this one through. Or they don’t take the power of word of mouth very seriously (Dan Rather and Mary Mapes may have some advice for them).