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Free WiFi in City Parks Faces Some Big Roadblocks

Cost and lack of precedent were cited as concerns at Parks and Recreation meeting

As suits a city with a growing millennial population that craves constant connectivity, Austin’s Parks and Recreation department has started exploring the possibility of providing free wireless internet access in public parks, the Austin Monitor reported Wednesday. Unfortunately its board has discovered a number of significant reasons that the project might never happen.

Two of the city’s top goals in that arena are providing Wi-Fi during park festivals and other major events and upgrading the wireless internet offered at remote city facilities, the Monitor reported. At its June 28 meeting, the Parks and Rec board discussed some of the challenges in the way of realizing Austin’s free public wireless dream.

Board members expressed concern over the lack of precedent—how few other cities have successfully implemented free public internet—according to the monitor. Members also expressed concern about the cost and the time frame of the project; the Monitor story notes that board member Pat Wimberly and others pointed out that technological changes sometimes happen so swiftly that its five-year plan might be irrelevant by the time it’s executed.

City explores bringing Wi-Fi to Austin parks [Austin Monitor]