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KPUD to bring free WiFi downtown

Within the next 30 days, islanders hanging out in downtown Winslow can expect to see ‘KPUD_cares’ pop up as one of their WiFi networks.

As part of a joint effort with the Kitsap Public Utility District and the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, Winslow Way will become a free wireless hotspot.

“We have chosen two buildings, the Pavilion and the Winslow Mall (to place WiFi antennas on),” said KPUD Business Manager Dave Jones.

“Once those go up, we will do what we’ve done in Poulsbo and see where the black spots are.”

Jones explained that with the help of the chamber, the utility district has a pool of about eight downtown businesses that have agreed to provide additional antenna locations. This way the black spots can become green spots.

“There’s a little one page form they’ve signed saying, ‘We’ll provide the power, you put up the antenna,’” Jones said.

The utility district has provided local government buildings with wireless Internet for several years through a fiber optic wire that has been installed across the county.

Currently Kingston, Poulsbo and Port Orchard have pilot programs set up in their downtown areas where people can access free WiFi.

Since the KPUD is a utility, by law, the district cannot sell the service to individual persons. Instead, it must sell the service to a local retailer, or service provider, who can then sell access to individual customers.

For the time being, it’s free Internet for all.

As part of the pilot project, the utility district will be troubleshooting the technology and filling in the black spots while islanders enjoy the Internet at no cost.

“On Bainbridge we’ve had several service providers come to us and say they would like to be able to provide services over (KPUD WiFi),” Jones said. “We are not currently ready for that, because we are still proving the technology.”

Retailers like Office Xpats and Cavu Networks have expressed interest in providing wireless Internet at their business locations through the utility district.

Community Events, April 2014

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