Selma Approves Internet Upgrade, Free Public Wi-Fi

Selma Town Councilman Mark Petersen said during the Jan. 10th town council meeting an internet upgrade for all town facilities needs to happen sooner than later. The board voted 3-to-1 to approve the upgrades, including free public Wi-Fi service, at a cost of $58,870.73. Photo

Citizens and visitors to the Town of Selma will benefit from an upgrade to the aging internet service at public buildings.

Speed and reliability have been an issue at 9 of the 10 public facilities owned by the Town of Selma, including the Town Hall, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Library, and Police Department.

In December, Kevin Eaves with VC3, the town’s information technology consultant, proposed a $58,870.73 upgrade to a wireless network that would improve internet reliability and speed while also giving  public access to Wi-Fi.  VC3 proposed a fiber optic connection to the Town Hall then a wireless connect to the 9 other public buildings, including the Selma Council Chambers which currently has no internet service.

Eaves said a radio tower on top of the Selma Fire Station would be used for the wireless network.  The public would benefit by having Wi-Fi hotspots at all 10 buildings.  He estimated the public would be able to have free Wi-Fi service up to two blocks away from all 10 public buildings.

The wireless system would have a cellular backup. Equipment mounted outside the buildings would be capable of sustaining 120 mph winds and would have battery backups.

Eaves said the hardware would cost $17,022, network installation $23,828, and the engineering around $18,020.  But after the upfront costs, the Town would pay about the same each month for the new and improved internet service at all 10 buildings compared to the current costs for individual service “patch worked” at the 9 buildings.

The cost also includes a request by WRAL to install a Skycam in Downtown Selma near the Old Town Hall Building.

At their Jan. 10th meeting, at the urging of Councilman Mark Petersen,  the council voted 3-to-1 to allocate money for the upgrade. Councilman Tommy Holmes voted against the measure saying it was not included in the current fiscal year budget. Holmes said he wanted to wait to fund the expenditure in the new fiscal year starting July 1st.

Town Manager Jon Barlow said there is a “serious issue with speed at the town hall” that needed addressing as soon as possible.  Mayor Cheryl Oliver agreed saying it was frustrating for customer service representatives trying to help customers.

No time line was given as to when the new upgraded internet and Wi-Fi service would be installed and available.