Free wireless internet coming to downtown Mason City | News

MASON CITY, Iowa – A growing number of communities across the country have added free, publicly accessible high-speed wireless internet networks. Mason City is set to join that list.

At their meeting Tuesday night, city council approved implementing the SMARTcity solution, which would provide wireless internet in downtown, free of charge. Overall, the equipment for the system, as well as for the SAFEcity solution, will cost about $1 million, though the city is paying 10% of that up front initially (about $106,000). To pay for the cost of equipment and maintenance, ad revenue will be collected through each user that accesses the network. The city is projecting about $500,000 annually from ad revenue. Even if that amount comes up short, City Administrator Aaron Burnett says the incoming revenue will be a benefit to the community.

“If that number is greater than 0 that comes into the city, that’s a great thing for the community because we’re providing that benefit. If that estimate is even half, it’s still $250,000 that the city did not have before to support programs, facilities and public safety within the community.”

After the equipment is paid off, the ad revenue will be split between the city (which will receive 60%), operation costs, and Sector, LLC, the company maintaining the network. In addition, the city is not collecting user data from those using the network.

Burnett is hopeful wi-fi will be implemented by the time RAGBRAI rolls into town in July.


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