Free WiFi coming to the riverfront

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By Rachel Christian

Visitors to the Mount Vernon riverfront will soon have access to free WiFi, thanks to a recent re-negotiation between the city and local provider SITCO.

SITCO signed a contract in 2010 with the City of Mount Vernon allowing the company to house its antennas atop city water towers in exchange for a yearly fee.

At the Board of Public Works meeting July 6, Mayor Bill Curtis stated that SITCO has failed to make its promised payments, which have totaled $2,800 over the last seven years.

As part of new negotiations, SITCO has entered into a new three-year contract with the city that began in April. It will pay the $2,800 it owes in back payments, and will be charged an increased annual rate of $600.

SITCO has also pledged to provide free public WiFi to the downtown riverfront area. The service is expected to begin within the next two weeks.

Curtis said there are still more details to iron out in the meantime. Although the WiFi will be available to anyone, a user will still need to input a public password in order to access it. What that password will be and how it will be communicated to residents is still being discussed.

Curtis also noted that the quality of the wireless Internet coverage might vary or worsen during large public gatherings, when numerous individuals are attempting to access the service at the same time.

“It’s free though,” Curtis pointed out during the meeting, “and that’s always a good thing.”