By Cole Parkinson
The Town of Vauxhall may see a program come to the town that offers free Wi-Fi for the downtown area, if all goes according to plan.
With the expanding need for wifi in today’s world, the Town of Vauxhall have applied for a project from Mage Networks called “MagiNet” which provides high speed broadband services.
The company is seeking out rural towns and hamlets to pilot the program at no cost to the municipalities.
“They are looking to do a pilot project on wireless internet for downtown small communities. They had a bunch of questions that needed to be filled out so we filled it out and sent it. Now we’re just waiting to see if we qualify to be one of the communities that they pilot this in. That means we get the infrastructure for free, it’s ours to keep until the pilot project is done,” said Mayor Margaret Plumtree at the town’s regular Dec. 19 meeting.
The program cuts out the need for cell towers by having small nodes attached to buildings and then placed low to the ground at 3-4 metres.
The nodes need sight lines between them as it allows for a wide range of coverage around terrain, trees and other obstacles as the signal is available to service any area.
Building owners would be on the hook for supplying power to the units at a cost of 30 cents per month according to the letter Mage Networks sent to town administration.
Another point of contention for a suitable location indicated in the letter states they would need an access point location with at least 50 Megabits per second (Mbps) so they can pick up the signal for the network but the Town of Vauxhall doesn’t have a location that fits their needs.
“We were honest when we put it through because we thought at first that we didn’t qualify at all because of the 50 megabytes. The library was where we were thinking and the library doesn’t get 50,” said Plumtree, who also stated they were informed they don’t necessarily need the 50 Mbps location.
Another question council had was how far the wifi would extend past the downtown area.
“We’re allowed to extend it if we want but there is an additional cost because I said we would love to see it for tourism to come up 5th, past the office for the arena and the ball diamonds,” added Plumtree.
The town administration didn’t have much time to decide whether or not they wanted to participate as it was based on a first come, first serve basis.
“We’re not tied to anything we just had a deadline,” continued Plumtree.
The main reason for bringing this to the table for the last meeting of 2017 was to inform the councillors they had decided to move forward with the project, which council was receptive towards.
Now they just have to wait to find out whether or not they have been one of the two municipalities chosen to pilot the program at some point in the near future.