Yesterday I received an email from Rich Kaiser, an independent broadband provider in North Carolina. Since the Hurricane Katrina disaster, he’s been working to set up wireless networks throughout Mississippi, and has worked with other WISPs and volunteers to use broadband wireless technology to restore communications to the affected area. His story is heartwarming, and its wonderful to hear first-hand accounts of all of the outreach and community centered assistance that is going on down there.
bq. I’m a wireless owner in rural NC and I recently got back from volunteer work in Mississippi. My company, R2 Wireless, is small-time, we started-out just trying to punch broadband into the broadband shadows down in the swamps of NC.
bq. I’m indirectly familiar with NYC, I grew up in Toms River, NJ and my brother worked around Wall ST. Here in NC, it’s just like south Jersey, except the pine trees are taller. In “downeast NC” the population’s spread-out like the pine-barrens of like: 20 years ago…
bq. So R2 was pretty dormant (just serving our software company) until Katrina. Afterwards, part-15.org hooked me up with a local wireless company in D’Iberville, MS (next to Biloxi) where I spent 15-hour days doing nothing but installs.
bq. It’s notable because the storm’s over 2 months old and there are still lots of towns and facilities without a dial-tone. I even got to hang the 2nd-ever WiMAX link in the US on an MCI radio tower in Gulfport, MS 2 weeks ago.
bq. Wireless is a natural fit in emergencies and there are few alternatives. Especially meaningful is the amount of cooperation amongst municipalities, organizations and relief efforts. Wireless provided a medium where “goodwill” efforts centralized communications.
bq. There’s probably something psychological about a “dial tone”. At the end of each install, saying “The phones are up” – caused goodwill.
bq. In some cases, we were granted access to radio towers within 2 hours of first learning of a facility in need of communications. The resulting wireless network is probably the largest in the South right now. New towns are getting installed weekly, facilities average 1 install/day.
bq. So I’m convinced of the benefit in having a wireless backbone for emergencies, and I’m hoping to combine backbone installs with cooperative efforts bringing broadband to rural communities.
bq. NYCwireless’ efforts are notable and I appreciate that you’ve made information available.
bq. Thank you for reading this, and please pass along that the people along the Gulf coast say a hearty “Thank you” for your donations.
bq. After I get some work done here in NC, I’m going back to MS to help with the network. I’ll certainly be talking about nycwireless and how other cooperative ventures might learn from your example.
bq. Thanks again,
bq. Rich Kaiser
bq. President, R2 Wireless
Rich, please continue your work. You have our support from NY and the rest of the country!