Public Wi-Fi installation to begin in several neighborhoods

Published on November 19, 2020

a truck does utility work

The City of Fort Worth will begin installing equipment in the Rosemont area next week that will help connect more residents to the internet as early as January. An estimated 60,000 Fort Worth residents lack home internet access, making it difficult to attend online classes, apply for jobs or tap into other social service resources.

Rosemont residents can expect to begin seeing city crews and other contractors using bucket trucks to install equipment on utility poles. When the system is up and running, the city’s public Wi-Fi signal from buildings such as community centers will reach nearby neighborhoods, allowing residents to connect to the internet at home.

The city has designated $5 million in federal CARES Act funds to provide free public Wi-Fi access to five low- to moderate-income neighborhoods in all, including:

  • Ash Crescent
  • Como
  • North Side
  • Rosemont
  • Stop Six

The city identified the areas through its Neighborhood Improvement Program, which relies on data such as household income, poverty and crime rates to concentrate improvements where they’re needed most. The neighborhoods also have low internet subscription rates, said Kevin Gunn, the city’s director of information technology.

Installation and testing in Rosemont will take several weeks. After that, installation will begin in the remaining four neighborhoods simultaneously.

How it works

Crews will install equipment on utility poles near city facilities that offer public Wi-Fi. Using radio technology, the equipment relays the city’s wireless signal so that it reaches into the neighborhood. Anyone with a Wi-Fi-enabled device, such as a smartphone or laptop, could use the signal to access the internet.

City public Wi-Fi would be filtered, meaning some streaming, gaming or other sites would be blocked.

“It won’t be similar to purchased service,” said Gunn, “but it will allow children to do their online homework or let someone fill out an online job application from home, for example.”

Residents using the city’s signal would need to exercise the same precautions to protect their privacy as when using other public Wi-Fi systems. However, Gunn said, “We also want to make clear we will not collect information or in any way track those using our signal.”

Recognizing the importance of home internet access in our daily lives, the city is making a long-term commitment to improving access citywide. Home internet subscription rate is now included as a metric of the Neighborhood Improvement Program and will be considered in selection of neighborhoods for future public investment.

Residents in Ash Crescent, Como, North Side, Rosemont and Stop Six can expect to begin seeing city crews and other contractors using bucket trucks to install equipment on utility poles. Installation and testing will continue for several weeks. 

 

 

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