The Kent State staff explained Kent was really too small a city to attract a free deal and more importantly they convinced us that the costs of that effort would still be significant but the value was limited since wi fi is fairly low speed, inefficient, and more of a “nice gesture” rather than an economic development asset for businesses or much of a quality of life improvement for residents.
We decided at that time to pass on pursuing citywide wi fi and we wanted see how those big city projects went. It turns out that most of the big city projects that promised free wi fi failed pretty miserably so we were relieved that we didn’t try to sign up for one of those private deals that sounded too good to be true.
Fast forward 5 years to 2012 when we revisited the idea for downtown Kent. As Kent State was looking to extend wi fi down the Esplanade to the new Kent State Hotel, KSU offered to open their internet backbone connection thru public wi fi as long as we were willing to pay for the wi fi repeaters and power supply.
We had a detailed engineering analysis done and we discovered that 90% of the businesses downtown already offered wi fi in their buildings. As a result we just looked at expanding public wi fi outside in the public around downtown from the end of the Esplanade to Heritage Park by the dam.
The city costs for just those outside public areas was $1 million so we ended up having to table that idea. We’re still looking for possible ways to expand wi fi opportunities off the KSU backbone — for example to new Dan Smith Park — but line of site and power supply is still a bit of a problem for us. Ideally we could convince one of the adjoining properties that already has public wi fi to be willing to share it in the park at no real cost.
Wi fi has proven to be a little too slow, too insecure, and too unreliable for most business transactions so it is mostly just a convenient way for people to casually visit social media sites. We’re happy to promote that casual use but the costs have been prohibitive for us.
Super fast high speed internet service definitely has value for business development but it’s a steep cost curve, and right now, we haven’t figured out a way to afford it.
According the newspaper, it looks like Fairlawn plans to build a high speed network in their community — with a $10 million price tag.
Fairlawn approves plan to build FairlawnGig network
April 05, 2016 UPDATED 5 HOURS AGO
Fairlawn plans to turn itself into one giant WiFi hotspot.
Fairlawn City Council has authorized a plan that involves installing a new high-speed fiber Internet network and wireless access points throughout the city and the Akron-Fairlawn-Bath Township Joint Economic Development District.
Fujitsu Network Communications of Texas will build the so-called FairlawnGig network. Extra Mile Fiber LLC of Dayton will serve as FairlawnGig’s anchor service provider.
The construction project is slated to cost about $10 million, according to the Frequently Asked Questions page at Fairlawngig.net. It will be financed by bonds issued through the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, according to a news release from the city.
Fees for the FairlawnGig Internet service range from $30 per month for a low-end residential subscription to $500 for a gigabit-speed business package, according to the FairlawnGig website.
Fairlawn Mayor William J. Roth Jr. praised council for approving the FairlawnGig plan. In the news release, Roth said the project will “significantly aid in our efforts to promote economic development and commercial and residential growth in the city of Fairlawn.”
The FairlawnGig project was inspired by trade shows the mayor has attended over the years, Fairlawn deputy service director Ernie Staten told Crain’s in January 2015, just before the city started looking for companies to build the network.