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Free Wi-fi could become a reality in Utica

By NICOLE PITT

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Some Utica Councilors want to apply for grant money to make Utica "wireless."

There's a resolution to implement Wi-fi hot spots throughout Downtown Utica and area parks. Some of the infrastructure for the wireless internet is already installed. It was a project former mayor Tim Julian started back when he was in office.

If you are Downtown and have a smartphone you may notice your phone trying to connect to the "Utica Wireless" name. That is the system Julian started but it is not active.

The councilors say there are many benefits to having the wi-fi downtown. First, public safety. First responders would be able to set up an instant network at the scene of an incident.

Wireless internet could also provide an economic boost to the area. It would attract more people downtown. Councilor Joe Marino cites the numbers of college students in our area. Free wi-fi would bring them out and into local shops and parks with their laptops. "They talk about Seattle a lot," said Marino. "Seattle was built by their wireless infrastructure. Starbucks became the nation's number one selling coffee because people went in there with their Apple Computers and they congregated there so you know Utica Coffee could be the same thing if we just did our homework and got these wireless hotspots done."

The plan is to apply for grant money from the Regional Economic Development Council. Right now the resolution is going back to committee to determine the best way go about applying for the grant. The deadline to apply is August 12th.

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