Point Edward plans to offer public Wi-Fi in parts of the village as early as this summer.
An agreement with Bluewater Regional Networks will see the installation of a “world class” fibre-optic Internet in commercial areas, bringing public Wi-Fi access to the Point Edward Arena and along Michigan Avenue to Waterfront Park at the Blue Water Bridge, Mayor Bev Hand said.
“This is a move towards the future. More and more people, that’s what they care about… they care about the Internet and they care about high speed.”
It’s not known if there will be a user fee for Wi-Fi access. Village CAO Jim Burns said staff will consult the public when develops a proposal for the public service.
“I don’t think we really want to have people downloading movies,” he said. “But we want people to be able to upload a photo to Facebook or check their emails.”
Burns said there’s a need for better connectivity between village facilities, and he hopes public Wi-Fi will boost tourism.
“Bluewater Regional Networks was looking to expand their network and increase the area they serve,” he said. “We thought we could meet both needs by partnering together and putting together this project.”
Point Edward is providing $150,000. Bluewater Regional Networks, a sister-company of Bluewater Power, will own the infrastructure, Burns said.
The company currently offers fibre-optic Internet service to Sarnia commercial customers only, with upload and download speeds of 10 megabits to one gigabit per second, according to its website.
Unlike spending on a bridge or arena, a fibre-optic backbone is an invisible but valuable investment, said Stephen Thompson, CEO of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.
“It is an important step in laying the foundation for economic competitiveness.”
Engineering and design work is already underway and the village hopes to have the work fully complete sometime this summer.