March 31, 2006

Charleston Wi-Fi Project Goes Live


Its free - Really

The following two links contain news reports by Anderson Burns of Charleston television station's WCIV.TV and Andy Periotti of WCBD on the deployment of Charleston's wi-fi project by Widespread Access.

[ WCIV Interview - March 31, 2006 ]
[ WCBD Interview - March 31, 2006 ]

On the record by Ernest Andrade, Director, Charleston Digital Corridor

The recent deployment of Charleston's wi-fi project by Widespread Access has generated a reasonable amount of interest from the merchants, residents, visitors and media in Charleston and elsewhere.

There are two facts that make Charleston's wi-fi project significantly different from other models across the country. First, there are no public dollars devoted to the deployment and second, to our knowledge, it is the first time a media company has partnered with a technology company to build and maintain a wireless network.

The technology to deploy a wireless broadband infrastructure is significant, with its competitive service offerings, ranging from free "open" internet access to VPN access. This technology combined with the Evening Post Publishing Company's recognition of the opportunity to deliver unique, timely and targeted content to an expanded audience of residents, visitors and businesses on a new (community) platform and the support of the City of Charleston, has the necessary ingredients to make Charleston's wireless network a business success story.

As Widespread Access and their media partner, the Evening Post, proceed with this five year pilot project, it is important that all of us in the Charleston community understand how we got to where we are, what the deployment of a wireless network can mean for our community and finally, the role each of us can play in the successful deployment of this cutting-edge technology.

The conception and implementation of Charleston's ubiquitous broadband wireless network is being facilitated by the Charleston Digital Corridor, a technology-based initiative that is part of the City of Charleston's comprehensive economic development strategy. The mission of the Digital Corridor is to collaborate with relevant partners to attract, nurture and grow knowledge-based companies.

Facilitating the development of Charleston's wireless network is consistent with the Digital Corridor's value-added strategy with an added bonus - leveraging private investment to provide public benefit.

The benefits of successfully deploying a wireless network in Charleston include, and are not limited to:
* Accelerating the adoption and usage of broadband services in our community through competitive pricing of broadband services
* Bridging the Digital Divide by recognizing that low cost access to information infrastructure is a necessary prerequisite for the successful use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by citizens of lesser means
* Reducing Barriers to Business Services by offering business another flexible method of Internet and telephony (VOIP) to quickly get up and running immediately, further reducing the barriers to business services
* Supporting Entrepreneurship by helping support the creation of new technology oriented businesses that cater to the increasingly tech-savvy consumer
* Increased business productivity through the presence of mobile broadband that could make the delivery of business services in both the private and public sectors more efficient and cost effective
* Media Exposure that showcases Charleston's effort as a model for other communities seeking to further stimulate economic development and civic engagement by increasing broadband options without the use of public funds.

This initiative is the culmination of several years of research, discussion, and creativity by and with numerous business owners, community leaders, technology professionals, and state and local officials.

As the network gets up and running, community input remains vital. We invite all users, citizens and visitors alike, to provide constructive feedback for the growth and improvement of the network's value and positive economic impact.