The Union Recorder

Local News

July 23, 2008

Wireless city steps closer

Milledgeville took a giant technological leap forward Tuesday when city council voted unanimously to contract with Internet provider Clearwire for the city’s proposed wireless Internet system.

Tuesday’s vote and Mayor Richard Bentley’s signature will mark the end to the “frustratingly slow and arduous process” of planning and developing a viable wireless system and selecting the right service provider to bring those plans to fruition. But Bentley said the protracted process enabled the city to initiate the best possible service to meet the city’s needs while staying within the city’s budget.

In September 2006, Milledgeville received an $862,000 grant from the Georgia Technology Authority through the Wireless Communities Georgia program to turn the city into one of several model communities to show the benefits of using wireless access to improve economic development, educational access and governmental services.

Milledgeville is partnering with Kirkland, Washington-based company Clearwire to create a wireless network utilizing WiMax technology, an emerging platform that operates similar to cellular phone service. Milledgeville decided to go with Clearwire over Delaware-based Solutrea, which the city had been in negotiations with for a Wi-Fi network platform, because the WiMax technology provides a larger coverage area at a lower cost than Wi-Fi. The Milledgeville system will be an outgrowth of Clearwire’s efforts to build a wireless network in Atlanta.

The system will be subscription-based with several different price categories for Milledgeville consumers. Another advantage of Milledgeville’s contract with Clearwire is that consumers in the Milledgeville area will be able to access the wireless system in any of the 46 markets Clearwire services.

“Overall, this provides mobility,” said City Planner Russell Thompson, who has been instrumental in finding the best service provider and negotiating the city’s contract with Clearwire. “You’re not locked down, you can take [Internet access] with you.”

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