T-Mobile Opens Wireless Floodgates in New Orleans

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, T-Mobile USA Inc. said it will offer its Wi-Fi services without charge to the general public of the tri-state area, including Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. T-Mobile said that the services will be free until the end of the week, and possibly beyond that if the situation warrants it.

T-Mobile service locations include Borders, FedEx/Kinko’s, Starbucks, Hyatt Hotels, Red Roof Inn motels, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and US Airways. According to the company there are 66 locations in the affected area, some of which may have intermittent hours due to storm damage inflicted during the hurricane and the subsequent flooding. A complete listing of hot spots is available at here.

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The service gives people displaced by the hurricane a welcome a chance to log into their networks and check e-mail. According to a company statement: “The free service is intended for those who have been displaced from their homes or are seeking refuge from the hurricane.”

While the statement sounds inclusive, users with Internet voice communications shouldn’t count on T-Mobile to provide these kinds of services for their mobile phones. The free Wi-Fi service is meant for data only. “This free offer for the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama is for Wi-Fi service only, not T-Mobile voice services,” the company said.

The status of a Wi-Fi-enabled cell phone in such an arrangement was unclear at the time of this article.

But, the company’s Web site stated: “There will be no charge for T-Mobile HotSpot service, at these [open] locations, through the end of day Friday, September 2, 2005. The situation will be re-evaluated at that time to determine if the free service will continue.”

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