City Announces Wi-Fi Sites


    GRAND RAPIDS — The city of Grand Rapids today announced the vendors, partners and sites of the demonstration phase of its Wi-Fi initiative. In the most significant step to date in Mayor George Heartwell’s economic development project, a group of 10 demonstration sites will be offered to the public this summer.

    “I am excited to work with our partners to bring wireless Internet to our community,” stated Heartwell. “This technology will provide an economic development tool to attract and retain business, reduce the digital divide with affordable high-speed broadband service, improve municipal service delivery to residents, reduce the cost of government, and create a seamless wireless infrastructure to attract and retain young professionals.”

    Over the next month, vendors will work to set up their individual projects. Each will use partnerships with businesses, schools, health care, neighborhoods, nonprofits and community groups, and the networks will be minimum of a quarter square mile in size.

    The wireless Internet network will be free to the public for the duration of each site’s eight-week demonstration period.

    Project manager Sally Wesorick was surprised by the reception of vendors and partners. Partners included the state of Michigan; Washtenaw, Kent and Ottawa counties; Kentwood, Wyoming, East Grand Rapids, Rockford, Grandville and Walker; the Grand Rapids Public Schools, Community Media Center, Van Andel Research Institute and SBC.

    Ten separate vendors, some local and others national powerhouses, will participate. The first phase networks will launch in June with the second phase a month later.

    Phase 1:

    • Nortel Networks, City Hall/Calder Plaza at 300 Monroe Ave. NW
    • Freedom Net Solutions, GR Police Department, 1 Monroe Ave. NW
    • Northrop Grumman Information Technology, Kent County campus, 700 Fuller Ave. NE.
    • Sprint, Van Andel Research Institute, 333 Bostwick Ave. NE.

    Phase 2:

    • Arialink Broadband, Creston High School, 1720 Plainfield Ave. NE.
    • M.E. Global Net, Leonard/Covell Fire Station, 1154 Covell Ave. NW.
    • Defacto Wireless Distribution, Seymour Branch Library, 2350 Eastern Ave. SE.
    • Vivato, an undetermined site in the city of Kentwood.
    • Proxim Corp., Walker City Hall campus.
    • ADC, Wealthy Theater, 1130 Wealthy St. SE.

    “We want to see if it really works,” Wesorick said. “We want to see if we can get it to businesses and residents inside and outside, and how interested in the service are businesses and the public.”

    Participation in the proof-of-concept program will not earn vendors points in this fall’s RFP process for the citywide deployment, Wesorick said.    

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