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Economic Opportunity

EO1.3

Support Community-Led or Public-Private Wi-Fi Clouds

Wi-Fi clouds enable wireless access to the internet over a large area of town.

Get started on a wifi cloud in your community »

Tool Information


Goals

  1. New Models
  2. Entrepreneurship
  3. Technology/Modernization
  4. Economic, Environmental, and Social Impacts
  5. Services
  6. Movement of Goods
  7. Downtowns
  8. Amenities
  9. Education
  10. Tourism
  11. Marketing
  12. Youth

Description

There are many examples across the US and UK where communities, community partnerships with Universities, organizations or companies have organized to provide city-wide, downtown district or localized Wi-Fi cloud zones for free or fee-service to attract businesses and improve community convenience. 

 There are already localized versions across the Flint Hills of Wi-Fi clouds in public and private sites, ranging from the single coffee spot to downtown districts, such as Wamego. In certain regions, these Wi-Fi clouds operate by membership or a fee structure paid for by venders or individual users.  In other locations, they operate free, through public or public-private partnerships to provide the service as a community benefit and to attract business in a certain development area.

 With the global economy becoming more and more dependent on the internet, accessible wife will be more central to a thriving economy.

Background

There are many cloud service providers available.  A community can decide to pair interested institutions and businesses together to host hot-spot zones or to negotiate a for-fee service for the local community to access with affordable rates. 

Generally downtown Wi-Fi zones are targeted for economic development reasons to attract businesses and to provide a convenience to tourists.  Sometimes adverting is included as part of participation in a network.  Wi-Fi zones often signal to outsiders that the town is forward thinking and socially equitable for those households most need affordable internet. 

Businesses that offer Free Wi-Fi to their customers find that there is more foot traffic that stays longer and spends more money when Wi-Fi is provided.  While some businesses fear that offering free Wi-Fi to customers will result in many people hanging out without spending money, but this does not prove to be the case.  In surveys completed after Wi-Fi is introduced, many business report dramatic increase in sales.  (2014 Device Scape Survey)

Device Scape

Device Scape Survey

Implementation Strategy


Champions and Partners

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Business Councils
  • Economic Development Councils
  • Internet Providers
  • Educational Institutions
  • Airports
  • Libraries

Timeframe

Short (1-3 years)

Cost

$$$

Cost Details

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Services
  • Maintenance & Administration
  • Donations to Non-Profits to provide universal access

Funding Sources

  • Businesses sharing the cost
  • Advertising fees
  • Municipal Operating Budgets
  • Membership Fees

Implementation Details

A brief outline of the first few steps necessary for implementation are provided. The steps outlined here are provided only as a suggested starting point and other approaches are certainly valid.

  • Engage a provider and create a Wi-Fi zone
  • Equip the one with Wi-Fi hardware & software
  • Develop partnerships to partner to provide the service, or set up a fee structure
  • Configure access control, user agreements and advertise with instructions for usage
  • Monitor and track usage, number of clients and speed
  • Allow the network to grow and expand organically, increasing over time
  • Maintain the zone

Case Study


Wamego Public Wi-Fi

Relevance

This is a regional model of one way to provide Wi-Fi Hotspots to a large portion of the community.