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Vidalia to offer public Wi-Fi to municipal complex, riverfront

VIDALIA — In an effort to be at the forefront of an increasingly wired world, the City of Vidalia plans to offer public wireless Internet at the city municipal complex and on the riverfront sometime next year.

The Telecommunications Development Fund Foundation awarded the city a $30,000 grant announced last week to deploy a wireless network that will cover the 77 acres that comprise the Vidalia municipal complex, including City Hall, police and fire stations and the recreational fields used by Concordia Recreation District No. 3.

“We had a number of people who came to tournaments (at the recreation complex) ask about Wi-Fi access, so naturally we started looking for some grants that could fund it,” Mayor Hyram Copeland said. “It is another enhancement to bring tournaments to the area. We are going to start work immediately and we want to have it ready by spring.”

Copeland said bids for the equipment came in lower than expected, and after getting permission from the grant agency, the city decided to set up a similar open network on the Vidalia riverfront.

The mayor said the grant was received in part because of work by Sen. Mary Landrieu. The senator said the Wi-Fi project perfectly complements Vidalia’s ongoing work to build a technology center and install high-speed fiber optic Internet access throughout the city.

“This project will add to Vidalia’s excellent quality of life for residents and promote additional entrepreneurial opportunities for local businesses,” Landrieu said.

The Wi-Fi systems will be installed by city employees.

The TDF was founded in 2008 with the mission of bringing communications technology and opportunities to areas underserved by Internet providers.