Lenoir to upgrade free Wi-Fi downtown

Jan. 22, 2014 @ 11:44 AM

The wireless public Internet in downtown Lenoir will get a sorely needed upgrade after the City Council approved a budget amendment Tuesday night to accept $96,120 for updates from Google, which paid in late 2009 to establish the service.

The improvements include a separate Internet fiber solely for the wireless service, a new wireless controller and replacement of the 13 access points across the downtown district.

The upgrades are welcome news to downtown business owners, who say customers complain about spotty and unreliable service.

At 1841 Cafe, co-manager Rebecca Hall said that two to three customers a day complain about not being able to connect to the city’s Internet. 

Don McDonald, owner of Highland Coffee House, said he purchased his own wireless router because the signal strength of the city’s Internet was insufficient for him and his customers.

Kadi Townsel, manager at Chix With Stix, said that although the store now has its own Wi-Fi, her customers didn’t have too many problems with the city’s Internet before, but the signal strength varies at different places in the store.

Google awarded Lenoir a $110,000 grant in 2009 to pay for setting up the wireless service, plus $15,000 to allow Google to host the Wi-Fi landing page. The city operates and maintains the network.