Iserv continuing a newly established tradition


Visitors to Rosa Parks Circle should be able to take advantage of free wireless service within the next couple of months.

The Iserv Co. is getting ready to serve the city yet another time, and, like before, in both a real and virtual manner.

Iserv, a leading independent Midwest Internet service provider, is finalizing its plans to offer free wireless service to those who visit Rosa Parks Circle through contracts the company is entering into with the city of Grand Rapids.

Iserv Director of Business Development Jeff Potter said the downtown hot spot at the west end of Monroe Center should be up and running within 45 to 60 days.

“We’re currently finalizing all the contract agreements with the city. But we’ve got a good-faith agreement and we’re in good shape to get that done, so we fully expect that will be executed. Once that’s executed, we’ll go ahead and start the installation process,” said Potter.

“We have to install the Internet connectivity and then we’ll have to put up our Wi-Fi hot spot equipment to broadcast the signal around the Rosa Parks area. That means we’ll go through a circuit-ordering process and that takes the majority of the time, and then we’ll configure the Wi-Fi equipment. So it’s pretty straight-forward,” he added.

Potter said the installation equipment will be set up in a secured telecommunications room. The equipment, which has to be outdoors, will be installed in an area that isn’t accessed easily.

But it’s not like Iserv hasn’t gone through this before. The firm made five similar installations throughout the district for last fall’s ArtPrize competition, when 10,000 unique visitors used the free service during the 19-day arts competition.

“We did not have any issues at all with our outdoor equipment,” said Potter, who has been with the firm for a dozen years. “It was a very successful event for us.”

In fact, the success that Iserv had during ArtPrize is a big reason why the company decided to make its current offer to the city. During that competition, Potter said the firm learned that many of those who attended ArtPrize used its network at the downtown park, which is adjacent to the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

“As an organization, that was one of the things that led to this idea of why don’t we just leave it behind because we had so many people take advantage of it at Rosa Parks. There are so many other events each year at that particular venue that it would make sense for us to leave it up and running,” he said.

While the city will pay for the electricity that will be used, Iserv will pick up the tab to set up, maintain and offer its service at no cost to the city or users. “There is a fair amount of expense that we’ll go through as an organization,” said Potter. “But for the benefit to the community, we’re willing to make that investment.”

Potter said a key reason why the company is making this available to the public is it wants to continue its support of the community. “It’s a great way for us to give back to the community.”

At the same time, it’s a great way for Iserv to expose its services to the community. “It provides us visibility to users and to the community as a whole,” he said.

Iserv was founded in 1995 as largely offering Internet access to homes, as it still does today. But the company has grown since then and has expanded its services to businesses, as well. It was recently acquired by Massachusetts-based 382 Communications, which kept the West Michigan staff intact.

“We’re going to be involved in ArtPrize again and we actually have even more interest in other venues for ArtPrize,” said Potter. “So we’ll be looking at those on a case-by-case basis.”

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