Downtown Kinston Wi-Fi access could be coming soon

Downtown Kinston Wi-Fi access could be coming soon

By Kristy Bock

Two years ago, the city of Kinston investigated adding public Wi-Fi access downtown. According to City Manager Tony Sears, it was decided that instead of public access to Wi-Fi for downtown Kinston, electrical outlets were placed on South Queen Street.

No conversations have been held in the last two years about downtown Wi-Fi access, or financing for such a project.

At a recent budget retreat, the topic of offering Wi-Fi for the downtown Kinston area was broached. The idea is embraced by Kinston Mayor Don Hardy, who believes having Wi-Fi access downtown would be an asset to the community. He’s looking forward to keeping Kinston in the forefront of technological advancements.

The mayor thinks Wi-Fi access for downtown Kinston could be the start of bigger things. He’s also looking into Wi-Fi access at parks and recreational buildings, as well as solar panel changing stations in parks.

Another way offering access to Wi-Fi downtown would be good for Kinston, according to the mayor, is as an incentive for small businesses who are opening and might not yet have the funding to secure internet access. This would give them the opportunity to log in through the city’s access until they were able to get their own.

He said at this time there is no definitive date to roll-out downtown access to Wi-Fi. They are working on stipulations to keep the services available to everyone. They are looking into things like how long someone can be on the services, how long streaming services can be used, as well as bandwidth availability.

Councilman Joe Tyson agrees the idea of Wi-Fi access downtown is a good one, though he did express concerns about ensuring the plan was developed in a cognitive and smart way. He discussed how public schools in Lenoir County had to limit their Wi-Fi hours to prevent loitering on campuses.

The local library had similar issues in the past.

As of 2016, according to Statista, 76 percent of the U.S. population has access to the internet. Lenoir County could benefit from a strong internet infrastructure. Free WiFi access would enable small businesses time to grow before purchasing their own internet options, as well as allow children the opportunity to use the WiFi after school hours to continue their educational development.

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