Rosa Parks Circle sits in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. Photo via commons.wikimedia.org
The company has kept its promise, and thousands of downtown workers and visitors to Rosa Parks Circle will benefit from it.
Iserv, a leading independent Midwest Internet service provider, made a pledge earlier this year to turn the popular downtown park at the west end of Monroe Center into a public hot spot of virtual connectivity.
The firm’s Wi-Fi service is now available at the park, and Iserv is providing it free of charge. It can be accessed at 1 Free WiFi Iserv.
Iserv, which has its headquarters and data center at 5222 33rd St. in Grand Rapids, entered into a contract with the city to provide the service.
The company agreed to pick up all the costs associated with doing that, except for the electricity charge. So the city will pay the electrical bill.
“It’s a great way for us to give back to the community,” Jeff Potter, Iserv’s director of business development, told the Business Journal in January.
It’s not only a way for Iserv to thank city residents for their support over the years; it’s also a pretty wise business move on the company’s part.
“It provides us visibility to users and to the community as a whole,” said Potter.
Wi-Fi during ArtPrize
The idea to make Rosa Parks Circle a Wi-Fi hot spot grew from the company’s involvement with ArtPrize last fall when Iserv made much of downtown virtually active, so people could cast votes for their favorite entries in the 19-day arts competition.
“It was a very successful event for us,” said Potter.
“We’re going to be involved in ArtPrize again, and we actually have even more interest in other venues for ArtPrize. So we’ll be looking at those on a case-by-case basis,” he added.
The free Wi-Fi service Iserv is providing isn’t the first time this year the company has decided to give back to the city.
In April, Iserv offered temporary work space and Internet connectivity to any business that was displaced when the Grand River overflowed.
The company made 25,000 square feet of space at its headquarters available and that offer included the use of phones, a high-speed Internet connection, on-site data storage and more.
“We know that several of our fellow local companies and organizations are struggling to carry on business as usual as a result of the recent flooding in West Michigan. We’re happy to offer our support in the form of space and Internet access to those in need,” said Tracy Pryce, who directs customer relations at Iserv, in April.
Iserv is owned by its employees, was founded in 1995 and serves residences and businesses.
In a related matter, the latest research shows that broadband access has grown in Michigan.
Connect Michigan reported a few days ago that 97.3 percent of the state’s residents have access to fixed speeds of 3 Mbps. Last October, 96.5 percent had that capability.
The research found that several new fixed-wireless providers were offering services and existing providers added more towers to their systems. The increase means 122,742 more households in the state can now receive a fixed-wireless service.
“Michigan continues to see marked improvements in broadband access. The proliferation of infrastructure coupled with energetic efforts to eliminate barriers to broadband adoption has produced positive results that are reflected in this study,” said Eric Frederick, state program manager for Connect Michigan.
Connect Michigan is a public-private partnership between the Michigan Public Service Commission and Connect Nation. The nonprofit’s mission is to work with local governments, businesses and citizens to increase broadband access statewide.
Connect Michigan's new broadband mapping tool is available at its website.