By Barb McKay
Free Wi-Fi service may be coming to Kincardine’s downtown and
BIA downtown development manager Rick Clarke and Bruce Telecom vice-president of operations Wayne Eichenberger made a presentation to Kincardine council during its meeting last Wednesday to unveil plans to set up Wi-Fi hot spots in Kincardine’s main tourist areas.
“When you are coming into Kincardine and into the downtown you’ll have the ability to connect to the Internet,” said Clarke.
There will be 11 hot spots in total, throughout
The service may be free to users, but it comes with a price tag for the municipality. The total cost is a little more than $21,000 to set up the service, including equipment, installation and a contingency fund of $1,000. Of that, Kincardine would be expected to pick up $13,100, the BIA would contribute $4,000 and Bruce Telecom will chip in $3,690. The Wi-Fi service would be hosted on a virtual server in order to keep hardware costs down. Annual maintenance and support costs would be $1,100, of which Bruce Telecom would contribute $540.
Clarke said more and more cities are providing free connectivity to residents and visitors to allow them to communicate. But, he said, it is also a great way to market the municipality when people update Facebook and Twitter and talk about where they are and what they are doing.
“It becomes another way to advertise readily and freely,” he said. “It’s one of the most aggressive steps to promote our municipality.”
Clarke added the fact that Kincardine has a municipally-owned telecommunication company is a benefit.
“We are in a very fortunate and unique position where the municipality owns the technology and the source of the technology to provide free Wi-Fi in the downtown,” he said. “It makes the project so much more affordable than it would have been.”
Councillor Randy Roppel pointed out the fact that Bruce Telecom is municipally-owned means the money is essentially coming from one pot. Clarke said the municipality needs to look at the bigger picture; by providing a service in the downtown it is providing more exposure to local businesses.
“You are investing in your own downtown,” he said.
Councillor Jacqueline Faubert agreed, adding that investments in the downtown help boost tourism, which benefits everyone.
Councillor Candy Hewitt asked if there might be opportunities for revenue by allowing businesses to advertise on the landing page. Clarke said it is something that could definitely be explored down the road once the project is up and running.
The discussion prompted Councillor Maureen Couture to inquire about the possibility of expanding cell service.
“We have been in discussions to try and encourage better coverage in the downtown area,” Eichenberger said. “All I can say is, stay tuned.”
Council asked municipal staff to sit down with representatives from the BIA and Bruce Telecom to get more details about the Wi-Fi project and where the funds would come from and bring a report back to the Nov. 6 council meeting.