Articles

Fayetteville, N.C., Council to Consider Deal for Free Wi-Fi Downtown

The City Council had budgeted money to roll out public Wi-Fi access downtown, though this proposal would have no cost attached, according to the city's deputy manager.

by Paige Rentz, The Fayetteville Observer / March 2, 2015

(Tribune News Service) -- Downtown Fayetteville could soon become a free Internet hotspot.

The city is proposing a partnership with Time Warner Cable to blanket the area with Wi-Fi coverage. The city would provide permission to install equipment on light poles and buildings, and Time Warner Cable would pay for the equipment and installation, marketing materials and dedicated support.

The City Council had budgeted money to roll out public Wi-Fi access downtown, though this proposal would have no cost attached, said Deputy City Manager Kristoff Bauer.

"It's a public amenity to try and improve the quality of life," Bauer said. "When people come downtown, come to festivals, they've got access to free Wi-Fi."

Time Warner Cable would provide unlimited free access to its subscribers, and an hour of free access per day for nonsubscribers, who could pay for additional access.

"It's a pretty good way to get some free service to everybody over a fairly large area without costing the city any money," Bauer said.

Time Warner Cable has more than 66,000 Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide and more than 300,000 spots with partner communications companies such as Optimum and Xfinity, according to materials from the company.

Bauer said that how much of the downtown area could be covered under the proposed project hasn't been defined.

The City Council will discuss the issue at a work session Monday. Bauer said he wants to make sure council members are comfortable with the idea of the project before moving forward with other planning or negotiations with Time Warner Cable.

"TWC is wanting to explore a number of opportunities," he said, including other proposed sites such as ball fields. "The downtown area is the start of the conversation."

The City Council's work session begins at 5 p.m. in the Lafayette Conference Room in City Hall.

©2015 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC