Why Does Your Community Need a Free Downtown Wi-Fi Program?

Here are reasons your community should consider building a downtown wireless network to spur growth and serve residents, businesses and visitors.

Downtowns of all sizes throughout North Carolina serve as central business districts and meeting places attracting small businesses, residents and tourists.

Broadband is an excellent way to empower your town’s visitors and residents to learn more about what is happening and available locally. Whether your visitors are accessing a local online community calendar, a small business website or your local paper, having access to high-speed broadband can be a key for growth.

Here are some reasons that your community should consider building a downtown wireless network.

Benefits to the User

Many smaller downtown areas have a hard time with reliable mobile coverage. And many consumers are becoming more accustomed to having free Wi-Fi access wherever they are. Some do not even pay for a data plan and schedule their activities around free Wi-Fiavailability.

With a free WiFi program, communities are able to provide content and information to keep visitors downtown.

A downtown Wi-Fi program also enables you to attract or encourage more local business startups. Downtowns are typically meant to be walkable, and business owners are attracted to foot traffic. Ensuring that the Wi-Fi network stays active will encourage people to stay in town.

Benefits to Businesses and Local Government

Businesses and local governments have a great opportunity to capitalize on a downtown Wi-Fi program to help them grow.

Downtown Wi-Fi is a great way to increase tourism and business growth. With a strategy in place that builds on citizens’ ability to connect, the information that local governments learn can be an asset.

For instance, a local government can require a zip code from users in order for them to access the network. Using that information, the government to identify where people that visit their towns are coming from. Some of this data can also be used to attract providers to the are to increase competition and services.

Another opportunity for local towns can include special event advertising like for fairs and parades. Free downtown Wi-Fi can give you access to people you know are in your town and grow these types of events.

An Asset for Broadband Expansion

When building out a network, sometimes broadband gaps form between service areas because of infrastructure limitations.

But some providers of local Wi-Fi services also provide wireless broadband options. For instance, a company may need access to a tower to reach the downtown area. Yet when they get access to that tower, it also allows them to reach other underserved citizens in the surrounding area from that tower.

The revenue from those individual end users can then be used to help fund monthly charges for the free downtown Wi-Fi program.

Over the coming weeks, we are going to spend some time on why your local community should have a free downtown Wi-Fi program, how some other towns have set up a program and how you can do work toward it as well.