Iowa City expanding free Wi-Fi in downtown area
IOWA CITY (AP) — Iowa City is expanding free Wi-Fi in its downtown area to meet a growing demand for online access.
The City Council approved a plan Tuesday night that will let Internet service provider South Slope Cooperative Telephone Company mount equipment atop the Iowa City Public Library that will expand the area of free wireless access.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports areas near the library already could tap into the building's wireless network, but that signal didn't reach far.
"It's almost an expectation anymore with the rapid rise of the number of laptops and iPads and tablet devices that we have an environment here to help support that," said Nancy Bird, director of the Iowa City Downtown District.
The downtown district worked with the city and South Slope to strengthen the signal by replacing access points on the library roof with more robust wireless distributors.
Bird said her group will pay the ongoing cost of the service.
Users will get two free hours of Wi-Fi daily, then must pay South Slope for additional service.
Geoff Fruin, the assistant to the city manager, said the new service wouldn't be costly or time-consuming.
"It will be a pretty simple switch of equipment," Fruin said. "The wiring is more or less in place, so there's certainly no major expense to the city."
Downtown restaurant owner Jim Mondanaro said the new service sounds good, but he'd like to learn more about the cost to the downtown district.
"Whatever we can do to get people downtown is a good thing," Mondanaro said. "But if all of a sudden it's going to be a number that's cost prohibitive and cuts into the annual budget of the downtown district, then I think you look at it from a different perspective."