City moves ahead on wi-fi proposal

The Port Orchard City Council is moving forward on Councilman Fred Chang’s idea to provide wireless Internet at City Hall, but taking a few research steps first.

The amended proposal would implement wireless Internet access at City Hall after a survey of the building’s needs is provided by Wave Cable at no cost.

Initially City Hall planned to purchase and install the wireless equipment independently, but council members discussed the possibility that the Internet provider has a contract to provide equipment for City Hall’s Wi-Fi services.

However, what the agreement actually says is up for interpretation.

“If you spoke with (City Attorney) Greg Jacoby, you’d get one answer,” Chang said. “If you talk to Gary Schrier (of Wave Cable), you’d get another.”

Schrier, commercial accounts employee of Wave Broadband, said he would need to review the franchise agreement with the city to determine the company’s obligation to City Hall’s wireless connection.

His initial understanding of the agreement provided wireless services for council chambers.

Jacoby said the language does not limit the wireless service to a specific area within City Hall, and requires Wave Cable to provide equipment for the service.

Council continued to debate whether the city can and should provide wireless internet to the public. Councilwoman Carolyn Powers worried that the action would be giving away public funds.

Eventually, with the prospect that the service could come at no cost to the city, the council approved the motion, with the initial building survey provided through Wave Cable.

“I thought it was encouraging at least that we appeared to get anonymous support to go forward,” Chang said.

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