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News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 3, 2014
New WiFi system expands service in downtown Stonington

 WiFi coming to downtown Stonington?

This is the type of mono tower that would be used to provide cell phone service to the downtown areas of Stonington, Maine.

Photo courtesy of Town of Stonington

by Rich Hewitt

New WiFi equipment installed last week is providing a strong signal that has expanded service throughout the downtown area.

Tim Henderson of PCFitness installed two wireless routers, one at Hagen Dock, the other at the town office. The two signals crisscross and provide service all along Main Street from Hagen Dock to the Fish Pier, according to Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris.

“This is not the top of the line system, but it’s not the lowest speed either,” Billings-Pezaris said. “This will help in the downtown until we get the cell phone issue taken care of.”

The town is currently investigating the possibility of using a tower to provide full cell phone service to the downtown.

The WiFi system, which was installed using a grant from Hancock County, provides a connection to the Internet and will allow people with smart phones to log on. That’s a big improvement for the downtown area which has been a dead zone for cell phones for a long time.

“We’ve had nothing downtown,” Billings-Pezaris said. “At least people will be able to check their email through their smart phones anywhere downtown. This is an enhancement for the downtown.”

The hope, she added, is that the enhancement will encourage people to come back to the area.

According to Billings-Pezaris, the new system does not provide a secure signal and users will be warned that the signal is not secure on a pop-up page when they connect to the system. The system is designed primarily for mobile phone users and is not meant for commercial use. It also does not replace a private Internet connection.

There is a possibility that some users could try to tie into the system and use the system as their own Internet connection, she said. The system does include a way to detect “poachers” or to block them out.

The pop-up page will note that the service is provided courtesy of the town’s economic development committee. Billings-Pezaris said the SEDC is looking at offering the opportunity for businesses to underwrite the ongoing costs of the system in exchange for the chance to place an add or a link to their website onto that pop-up page.