Trion Man Wants City To Provide WiFi, Vehicle Recharger PDF Print E-mail
News - Local News
Monday, 17 July 2017 12:25
A Trion man wants local officials to provide free wireless internet to Summerville residents and build a recharging station for electric cars.
Allen Baggett thinks Summerville should provide free internet. 
"I wanted to talk with you about the city installing citywide WiFi," Baggett told the Summerville Council during the regular monthly meeting last Monday.
This is not a novel idea, according to Baggett. A small town in Tennessee installed its own infrastructure and now provides free internet connections. 
He believes a similar system is possible in Summerville with the help of state grant dollars. There is a $41,000 grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission, but the city must apply for it, according to Baggett.
"I talked to our local IT expert and he says that we can install citywide WiFi that can support 500 devices at one time for $40,000," Baggett said.
If the city paid just $40,000, that would not cover the entire city. It would cover a large portion of downtown Summerville and some residences on surrounding side streets.
It's also questionable whether the city would need to support a system that is capable of handling more than 500 devices at a time. The city has 1,902 households. 
The mayor believes a system capable of handling 500 connections would be just for the downtown area. 
"I don't know how many people would be logged on at the same time," Mayor Harvey said.
A 2017 study by the Pew Research Center said 95 percent of Americans owned three or more internet connected devices. That number continues to grow.
"My main concern is the kids in the public school system that might not have (internet)," Baggett said. "Now there is a lot of talk about these Chromebooks the schools are going to be using, that this would support. Of course if they all came to town at the same time it might get a little fuzzy. But we could really help the kids in the county school systems by installing this and letting them use this."
Mayor Harry Harvey seemed to support the idea that the city should provide internet service.
"Certainly WiFi is one of those things we need, want and should have. However, there is that maintenance fee. Do you have any idea how much that maintenance fee is?" Mayor Harvey said.
"I do not. I can find out," Baggett said.
Councilman Earl H. Parris said providing internet service could become a revenue opportunity for the city. 
"They possibly could be billed for it. That is something to consider as we expand that service opportunity. This is all just conversation," Parris said. 
Baggett also wants the city to consider electrical charging stations. Summerville could purchase a "level 2" station that could charge a vehicle within three hours. It would cost about $7,000 for the unit and $3,000 for the installation, according to Baggett.
"The city's benefit would be drawing people in. We could make Summerville a destination point since we are probably halfway between Atlanta and a lot of places, especially Paradise Garden {Folk Art Museum}," Baggett said.
Baggett said he's also talked with members of the Paradise Garden Foundation, caretakers of Folk Artist Howard Finster's property.
Once the recharging station is installed, it goes on a Google map all over the country," Baggett said.
People could park and wait three hours for their car to recharge.
"Now you've got to eat lunch and kill three hours. So maybe they are going to spend a little money," Baggett said.
Baggett said the city could charge a fee and make money off the station.
"There are also grant money available . . ." Baggett said.
Some councilmen did not think there was a big demand, at least locally for a recharging station. Some councilmen thought these refueling stations would be for possible tourists.
Mayor Harvey said the city should study the popularity of electric vehicles and whether installing one could benefit the city. 
"That needs to be looked at, how many cars. And we know things are moving in that direction," Mayor Harvey said.

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