[Chtechcomm] article from today's Herald Sun
tbuckner at ibiblio.org
Mon Jun 27 09:25:30 EDT 2005
From today's Herald-Sun:
Cyber space could expand
CHAPEL HILL -- The options for grabbing a byte downtown could expand in
the future, if supporters of wireless technology have their way.
You could call it a slight case of wireless envy.
Across the town line in Carr-boro, officials decided last year to put a
few thousand dollars into expanding the wireless network in the downtown
area, enabling people to connect -- for free -- to the Internet with
their laptop computers equipped with wireless cards.
In Chapel Hill, members of the town's Technology Committee are among
those who see the potential that Carrboro saw -- giving customers
another reason to spend time in coffee shops and restaurants.
"[Wireless] has become kind of an expected amenity, at least for
communities that want to have a high-tech profile," said Will Raymond, a
Technology Committee member. "It's an economic driver, and also
[beneficial] for social reasons, because we can bridge the digital
divide. The idea is to build up a municipal network in town, through a
variety of means."
The bridge Raymond described would come with expanding the wireless
network to areas where paying the going rate for Internet access is a
challenge for some households.
For example, if the town were to establish a good network in downtown,
it wouldn't take much effort and money to expand it further to serve
neighborhoods like Pine Knolls and Northside, he said.
The board of the Chapel Hill Downtown Economic Development Corporation
wants to explore the wireless possibilities downtown as well. That board
has had some initial discussions about the idea.
The corporation was created a year ago by the town and UNC. After a slow
start, it's had some successes in recent weeks, such as hiring its first
full-time executive director and playing a role in pushing the owner of
the old Wicked Burrito building on West Franklin Street to do something
with the property. That building sat vacant for more than five years,
but the CarolinaPros nonprofit group and Blue Heaven museum will soon be
moving in, rent-free. The owner, Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon, gave
CarolinaPros the keys to the space last week.
The corporation also is reviving the downtown summer events series, with
movies and music performances running through August. And now it's
looking to wireless as another area in which it could help give downtown
a quick, fairly inexpensive boost.
The corporation's board has a petition before the Town Council tonight
on the wireless topic. Raymond had approached that board about seeking
to work with the Technology Committee on wireless, and the board now is
asking the council to officially designate it as a partner with the
Technology Committee on the effort.
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