Downtown Will Be Free Wireless Zone
By Kate Diaz, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 3, 2006
The Bremerton City Council voted Wednesday to make Wave Broadband the new city-sponsored wireless Internet service provider for the downtown area.
Council members voted 6-3 to approve the deal after Mayor Cary Bozeman urged them to pass it. Wave will create a network covering the area between Pacific Avenue and the waterfront and between Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Sixth Street for a little more than $54,300 from the city's general fund. That includes buying about $48,000 worth of equipment, which the city will own.
The network will cost about $2,000 a month to maintain, but city officials hope advertising sales will cover those costs starting in 2007. Users will get about 300 free minutes each month and the option to pay for more.
Council President Cecil McConnell and council members Mike Shepherd and Nick Wofford voted against the proposal.
Shepherd said he objected to funding another source of wireless service for the area.
"Why would we do it if a private enterprise is clearly doing it?" he said after the meeting.
Shepherd said he gets wireless access from a paid subscription service within the proposed coverage area. Also, representatives of a local company said they already provide free wireless Internet service in portions of downtown and along the waterfront.
"The information technology world is changing so quickly that frequently what the government thinks is forward-thinking is (behind)," Shepherd said.
Port Orchard-based LightSpeed Broadband's representatives told the council they were concerned that the city will pay Wave to install a wireless network when LightSpeed already broadcasts a signal for free.
Bill Eley, Bremerton's information technology manager, said the city needed a reliable source of Internet with support in place. He said LightSpeed did not provide a proposal that answered all the city's needs.
Laura Lyon, the city's finance director, added that the city had legal obligations to the companies that submitted proposals by the bid deadline. But she said city officials hope LightSpeed Broadband goes forward with expansion plans and that they may work with the company in the future.
Eley said Wave's network should be ready by the end of the year, but he hopes Bremerton residents and visitors will be able to log on to Wave's wireless service as soon as October.