BellSouth has a history over the last few months of being hostile in private, conciliatory in public: In December, they allegedly said that New Orleans's plans to run its own broadband network would cause it to withdraw an offer to donate a building. Then they denied in public that they'd said this to the city.
Days ago, the New Orleans CIO Greg Meffert said he'd rather go to jail than turn off the vital broadband wireless network operating in the city. BellSouth was trying to force the issue, he said. Louisiana based a ridiculous broadband limitation bill that denies municipalities the right to build broadband networks operating at 144 Kbps in either direction or faster. Under emergency rules, New Orleans was able to turn the network on.
BellSouth now says that they haven't challenged New Orleans at all. Private lobbying in Baton Rouge doesn't count, I imagine.
EarthLink has taken advantage of this situation by offering to take over New Orleans network on its usual private basis, spending $15m over the next three years to build a network with a 15-to-20-mile radius. That would be 700 to 1250 square miles--perhaps diameter was meant rather than radius?
BellSouth said that the Wi-Fi networks relies on access that BellSouth spent tens of millions of dollar repairing. Which, in fact, they were obliged to repair under state and federal regulations for incumbent operators that grant a monopoly in exchange for certain kinds of services being universally available or available on a certain basis, so let's not pretend that this gives them special rights.
The incumbents have fought hard for unregulated broadband, and have won practically every decision they've needed. It's thus doubly irritating to hear them complain that they're spending money to build services other people use, such as T-1s. If the service is regulated, they are subject to strict tariffs and conditions. If the service is unregulated, they're competing in the market. In either case, they have to spend that rebuilding money if they want to maintain their rights.