Company looks at bringing wireless internet to Natchez

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; CityNet plans to install 10 antennas to provide 18 square miles of the Natchez area with wireless Internet service, partners in CityNet’s Natchez office said this week.

Such infrastructure will allow the service to reach into areas not currently served by such DSL Internet service, said partner Robert Buttross.

In early May, CityNet representatives met with local leaders, including city officials, to see whether they would be willing to use the service.

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But regardless of whether the City of Natchez participates &045;&045; both in using the system and helping fund its setup and operation &045;&045; the project is still going forward, Buttross said.

Why bring such high-tech capabilities to a city as small as Natchez? That’s how Florida-based CityNet makes its money, they said &045;&045; going into areas bigger companies wouldn’t touch.

&uot;We’re filling that gap,&uot; sand Buttross’ partner, Melton King.

King and Buttross said there has been interest on the part of businesses and individuals to sign up for the service, although no demand figures were available as of Thursday.

They did say, however, that one advantage of the service would be its speed. With conventional Internet service, speed gets slower as more people use the system, but that’s not the case with wireless Internet, they said.

In addition, they said, there’s the convenience of being able to access the service anywhere in the coverage area, from out in the open to a room in the heart of a large building.

The next step to making the CityNet system of wireless Internet a reality is finishing an engineering study that will tell the company where the antennas should be placed. The study, which has already started, should take about six weeks to complete.

After that, it’s a matter of securing the necessary licenses and installing the infrastructure, which Buttross said could be done in a few months.

Buttross said the estimated cost of installing such a system is a &uot;moving target&uot; at this point.

But Clif Parker, president of CityNet, told attendees at the early May meeting antennas, installation and licensing fees could total $100,000 to $150,000. Yet that figure could rise depending on how many antennas are installed.

CityNet’s service could be used for many different purposes, from allowing hospitals to beam x-rays to doctors at home to allowing tourists and conventioneers to access their e-mail from throughout the city, Buttross said.

&uot;The potential is tremendous,&uot; he said.