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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans has announced it would provide free wireless internet to its citizens in order to encourage business back to the ravaged area.

According to CNET, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced earlier today that he would provide Wi-Fi access to the enitire city within a year, with some areas already operational.

The network uses equipment donated by Intel and Tropos Networks – who provide equipment for Philadelphia’s network – and will support download speeds of 512kbps and upload speeds of 384kbps per user, CNET reported. But due to a state law restricting the speed of council-run services, this will change down to 144kbps once the state of emergency is lifted The city is already planning to challenge the new law, a spokesman for the mayor told CNET. 

Reportedly, about 10 square miles of the city have already been covered with Wi-Fi including the central business district, the French Quarter and the warehouse district.

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