City deploys Wi-Fi hotspots to aid residents with internet access

City of Clinton officials are deploying three Wi-Fi hotspots to help residents who are unable to access the internet or have slow internet speeds. With students and employees working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Phil Fisher authorized the expansion of free Wi-Fi access for residents experiencing bandwidth issues at their residence.

Wi-Fi hotspots have been deployed in spaces that allow use in a parking lot or allow the ability to social distance in an open space.

Wi-Fi locations may be found at:

·         Lion’s Club Park, 251 East Leake Street

·         Wood Activity Center parking lot, 111 Clinton Boulevard

·         Bark Park parking lot, 913 Old Vicksburg Road

They operate primarily as “parking lot hotspots,” with Lion’s Club Park offering the service throughout the park. Social distancing and hygiene precautions are required. Each hotspot has firewalls and content filters to prevent inappropriate use. No password is required. Internet service is provided through Mississippi based C Spire fiber network.

Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher is making availability of Wi-Fi a priority for in the city, especially students living in sections where bandwidth may be limited.

Since 2013, city officials have worked with C Spire, AT&T and Comcast to boost speeds within the Clinton, but demand for expanded speeds by internet service providers continues to outpace their ability to serve the community. Three telecoms currently offer gig speed internet, but demand continues to outpace expansion.

Appropriation of federal funding for rural broadband expansion under the CARES Act does not apply to municipalities, so expansion of Wi-Fi at city facilities is the best option for rapid expansion of internet to underserved residents.

Mayor Fisher believes that offering the free Wi-Fi hotspots will help address the longtime problem of digital inequity that has been amplified by the coronavirus pandemic as residents without reliable home internet struggle to access education and essential services.

Clinton officials believe that robust internet capabilities have become a critical component of Clinton’s infrastructure and are vital to educational, business and community growth.

“We must see telecom and connectivity as an essential utility, much like water and sewer,” Fisher stated. “Right now, we must harness the power of innovation in connectivity for families and businesses to succeed as a community. It is the way we will learn. It is the way of the future.”

Clinton Public School District leadership expressed their appreciation for the expanded internet capabilities as important for current distance education programs.

“Internet accessibility during these unprecedented times has become more important than ever in order to ensure that the students of the Clinton Public School District are able to access virtual instruction,” Clinton Public School District Dr. Tim Martin said. “The school district is very appreciative of the efforts to provide free Wi-Fi hotspots by the city and encourage our students to take advantage of these locations.”

Security cameras are also in use at the facilities offering free Wi-Fi to allow residents an additional layer of safety while accessing the internet.

Residents are asked to social distance and follow CDC protocols while utilizing the free Wi-Fi in the parking lots and park. Residents are also asked to not block driveways at facilities, and to park in marked parking spaces.

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