Nearly Complete WiFi Park in Newport
Visitors to the Newport WiFi Park will soon have access to high-speed internet. Ritter Communication installed its RightFiber system in the park.
The Newport Economic Development Commission (NEDC) is leading the project in conjunction with the Southwest Planning and Development District with funding recently granted by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
The project will cost $231,765 and is expected to be completed by September 15, NEDC Director Jon Chadwell told Talk Business & Politics. This is part of a downtown revitalization project that includes a $3 million workforce training center.
“We’ve seen a real need within our community arise, and we’ve been amazed at the support we’ve received to meet it,” Chadwell said. “With the help of Ritter Communications, we are creating the infrastructure that will ensure our citizens have high-quality remote wireless Internet access in a safe outdoor environment if another pandemic-like event occurs.”
The park was funded in part by a pandemic preparedness grant. Before the pandemic, many community members used the library’s free Wi-Fi. Students and local residents struggled to complete class work or online business due to a lack of reliable high-speed internet accessibility when the library had to close, he added.
The park has 41 regular parking spaces, four handicap parking spaces, four shaded picnic areas, and free Wi-Fi. The new WiFi park is aesthetically designed and replaces a formerly underused lot located adjacent to the community library. The park’s WiFi services are essentially an extension of the library’s public WiFi network.
“Ritter Communications is proud to partner with the Newport community to provide unique and creative solutions that enable broader access to essential tools and connectivity,” said Alan Morse, President and CEO of Ritter Communications. . “This park will help ensure Newport residents and businesses can reliably access high-quality internet and stay connected.”
Ritter Communications was first approached about the project by the city’s mayor and Newport Chamber after the company announced plans in April to expand RightFiber services to the Newport community. The cost of the expansion is $2.6 million.
“Through expanding our residential fiber network to serve all Newport neighborhoods, in addition to ensuring that all eligible households are aware of internet service discounts available through the Federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP ), and now this community WiFi park, we hope to cover all the bases to bridge the digital divide in the community,” Morse added.
“I am grateful for the vision and leadership of NEDC and for partners like Ritter Communications who help elevate and improve our community. This collaboration demonstrates the remarkable achievements that can result from a well-tailored public-private partnership that focuses on solving one problem,” said Newport Mayor David Stewart.