Report: New Orleans to get free public Wi-Fi service

Looking to add a bright spot for citizens still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Tuesday is expected to unveil a free municipally owned wireless Internet access system.

Published reports say the city's Mayor, Ray Nagin, will announce the 512K bit/sec Wi-Fi network, which will also be used by police and local government activities.

According to The Times Picayune , most of the systems' equipment was donated and the city will run the operation -- at least initially. The network will span the city's central business district and the French Quarter at first but will grow in the future.

New Orleans is just the latest city to announce such free wireless plans. For example, EarthLink recently won approval from a non-profit group to create a wireless mesh net covering Philadelphia's 135 square miles. Cleveland, San Francisco and many other cities are offering or planning to offer public Wi-Fi access.

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