Free Wi-Fi for everybody! – Something good happened in Erie, 4/17/2020

Where the magic happens: Velocity Net’s office on Erie’s West 10th. | Photo via Greg Wohlford, Erie Times-News.

Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:

I can’t say it better, so let’s just run the lede from this GoErie article right at the top:

“A plan to bring free public Wi-Fi to much of the city of Erie as early as June has received a crucial OK from Erie City Council.”

Well, giddy up! The article goes on to say that Erie’s very own Velocity Network will be the service provider for this, and that a cool $500,000 grant from a federal-state partnership, the Appalachian Regional Commission, will fund the fiber optics installation plan needed to make this work.

The areas primed to receive free Wi-Fi are basically a bunch of stuff down by the bayfront, UPMC Hamot, and Erie Insurance, as well as a few business and industrial parks on Erie’s East side: SN3 Industrial Park (the former International Paper site), Joyce Savvachio Business Park (over by the 18th & Downing softball fields), and a swath on Erie’s far eastern edge adjacent to Wabtec.

Most notable among these sites is the entire Erie Innovation District – the heart of Erie’s nightlife from the water to 14th Street and between French and Peach streets. No more wandering into Starbucks and awkwardly avoiding some $5.50 mocha macchiatofrappacachino because you’re out of data!

When the dark quarantine cloud eventually lifts enough for us to see our way back downtown for things like a night at the Plymouth, or Ribfest, or a Tuesday down at the Pepsi Ampitheatre, this will be great. Even better that an Erie company will be making it all happen. It’s a good reminder that even though life has all but returned to the Stone Age for so many of us, the internet is one giant exception. Erie is making moves right now so that the “normal” to which we return might even be better than it was previously. So stay safe at home and remember, we’re going to make it through this. When we do, there will be much to look forward to on the other side.

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