The Platteville Main Street Program is proposing free wireless Internet service in downtown, from the Library Block through City Park and down Main Street to the Platteville museums.
The service would use the Platteville Community Network’s fiberoptics lines, along with up to seven transmitters between Chestnut Street and the museums.
The Main Street Program is seeking donors, including possibly the City of Platteville, to pay for the $18,529 installation cost, with the program paying $1,200 in annual maintenance.
The Main Street Program would own and operate the wireless network under the terms of a proposed wireless project resolution. The wireless Internet service would be provided by the city’s Internet service provider, Wiscnet. Netux Solutions of Platteville would install the service.
State law prohibits municipalities from building or owning video, telecommunications or broadband facilities except under several exceptions.
The proposal was first introduced in 2007, when Main Street executive director Jack Luedtke said the plan was “ahead of its time.” Now, however, Main Street communities Whitewater and Watertown have downtown wireless service. UW–Platteville also provides wireless service on campus.
Users of downtown wireless “would not use their minutes on their phones,” said Luedtke, though “this will not penetrate into buildings” beyond their front windows.
“It is geared more toward the visitor outside, and is not competing with other [Internet] services that are provided,” he said.
Installing the service is estimated to cost $18,529, of which $4,000 has been secured by a Platteville Community Fund grant. The installation would include two transmitters attached to Main Street streetlights, at about $2,900 each, and five transmitters attached to buildings, at about $2,000 each, in addition to a $2,600 controller/router.
Luedtke asked the Common Council Sept. 8 for funding for two or three sites, at the Municipal Building, the museums and the Library Block project when completed. He said there is “some private interest along the Main Street area” to fund other transmitters.
“There have been some conversations with some individual businesses,” he said. “They’re supportive of it because they see the need for wireless in the downtown area.”
Luedtke said the grant will be returned if at least half of funds are not raised to start the network. The grant expires in November.
Director of Administration Duane Borgen said the project could be funded through 2015 budget funds, though none are earmarked, or be part of the city’s 2016 budget.
When District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian asked what the Main Street Program was contributing, Luedtke said, “We’re a nonprofit organization, we have a budget that is tight, so we’re always looking for money.”
At-large Ald. Tom Nall said downtown wireless could mean Platteville would be “becoming a hot spot in Southwest Wisconsin that other communities aren’t.”