Though the county high-speed broadband initiative remains on track, public Wi-Fi hot spots for citizens to connect to for free while out and about town aren’t likely to happen on the same timetable.
(TNS) — The Vance County, N.C., technology committee opted to table a free public wi-fi initiative on Monday, as the city isn’t in the financial position to partner with the county for the downtown portion, County Manager Jordan McMillen said.
Though the county high-speed broadband initiative remains on track, public wi-fi hotspots for citizens to connect to for free while out and about town aren’t likely to happen on the same timetable.
During a technology committee meeting Monday afternoon, McMillen told the county commissioners who serve on the panel that the city government isn’t interested in financially contributing to the free wi-fi hotspot project at this time.
In July, during a committee meeting attended by local officials and internet provider Open Broadband, they tentatively determined the best spots for the first two hotspot locations: Kittrell, especially for Kittrell College students with lack of access, and somewhere in Henderson, either the Dabney Drive area around Interstate 85 or closer to downtown.
At that time, they considered the possibility of all three hot spots, but would require financial input from the city.
The county had allocated $36,000 annually for the public Wi-Fi service, with Kittrell tagged at $600 a month and Henderson notched around $2,000 a month. They’d hoped the city would pitch in half the amount for Henderson, or $1,000 a month in a partnership.
When committee members learned the city isn’t on board for the foreseeable future, they suggested other areas for wi-fi hotspots, such as the area around Aycock Recreation Center or at Foxpond Park. Ultimately, they’re still very interested in seeing this service offered downtown.
They decided to put the project on hold, including the potential Kittrell hotspot, as they’re “still evaluating options,” McMillen said.
As for the larger broadband initiative, the committee signed off on an agreement that would, if commissioners agree, offer county infrastructure to Open Broadband at no cost during their four-year roll-out period of high-speed service.
This agreement would allow the broadband company to attach antennas atop three county water towers to reach customers. One is in northern Henderson near New Hope Elementary, the second is in Kittrell and the third is on Warrenton Road.
The county will allow the company to use the structures until July 2023, when the broadband rollout for the entire county is complete. At that point, the county will charge Open Broadband market rate to use county infrastructure, as they expect to be generating revenue from customers at that point.
©2019 Henderson Daily Dispatch, N.C. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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