Cumberland Times-News

September 8, 2008

Fees on way for city WiFi Internet

Previously free, connection to cost users, serve city workers at remote locations

Sarah Moses

CUMBERLAND — In about two weeks’ time, those connecting to the Internet through the city’s WiFi connection will find that the service is no longer free.

“The fees will be somewhere between $16 to $20 (per month),” said Dave Kartchner, executive vice president of CONXX. “There will be various (Internet service providers) on it.”

Kartchner explained that CONXX, the carrier communications company that has helped to install the full citywide WiFi and the vehicle which AllCoNet 2 is marketed by, has been working with the city to get the services up and running.

It was originally anticipated that the system would be a paid network as of Aug. 1, but he said getting connections to various areas in the city took longer than expected.

Once the network is up, users will have the option of what plan they purchase and through what provider. Originally, plans also included a daily user fee of $4.95 to $7.95.

The WiFi could mean revenue for the city, but the connectivity throughout Cumberland will benefit employees as well.

“(CONXX) has been working recently to get the equipment in for credit card purchasing and allow city personnel to use the system,” said Johnna Byers, director of management information systems. “The guy in the truck with a laptop would have a secure area to log in and access, but not interact with the public (portion). City personnel would have a pass to get around that.”

Byers said she felt the system would not be beneficial inside the city hall, as it is wired, but to city personnel and staff at remote locations, as well as to residents.

Kartchner said that is this portion of the network his company his working on now. He said they are trying to ensure the public has a secure area to purchase access to the WiFi while the city workers have a secure area to conduct their business.

He added that while there are signals through most of the city, it isn’t quite 100 percent in all areas. He said some places are finding, because the WiFi is being transmitted through the power poles in town, that second floors get better reception for it. He said at other areas, it works better outside than in.

For this reason, he said Conxx has been looking into equipment that homeowners could purchase to boost their signal inside the home.

“There will be a few areas in the city that don’t have coverage right now as we finish up tuning, tweaking and getting adjustments made to the network,” Kartchner said. “By in large, it’s a pretty good cover area.”

He said in about two weeks, those accessing the network will find the Web page changing one final time. This time, he said it will offer various packages that can be purchased from Internet service providers.

Contact Sarah Moses at smoses@times-news.com.