Free Wi-Fi up and running in downtown Aiken

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Friday, August 1, 2014

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Free Wi-Fi is in the air after Atlantic Broadband flicked the "on" switch in downtown Aiken.

The new high speed Wi-Fi lets anyone in downtown Aiken hop on. It's part of a $4.5 million "Fast-Forward Aiken" initiative.

The company's also looking to expand its coverage once big horse events come through Aiken including Steeplechase and Aiken Trials.

Starting this week, anyone can log on on Laurens and Newberry Sreets between Barnwell and Park Avenues. The company's VP said the coverage was a long time coming.

News 12 at 11 o'clock/Thursday June 12, 2014

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Rob Pruiett has co-owned Aiken Brewing Company for 12 years and says he can't wait to offer free internet access to his customers.

"It's an added asset and anything that we can add value to our business we're all for," he said.

It's an asset that won't cost Pruiett's business a penny thanks to Atlantic Broadband's $4.5 million "Fast Forward Aiken Initiative," which will provide the public free access to Wi-Fi downtown.

"I like it," Pruiett said. "I think it's a great idea. It's an added service to our community. In the technical world that we're in now it's quick, it's free. What's not to like about it?"

Across the river, Patricia Hubbard says there are some things she doesn't like about the Wi-Fi access in downtown Augusta.

"I have gotten the Wi-Fi but it doesn't work very well," she explained. "I'll try to connect to it and it won't actually connect or it'll just completely kick me off."

The city of Augusta expanded Wi-Fi access in 2010, allowing the public to sign up for pay-per-use or subscription Wi-Fi plans.

But, managers at Metro Pub and Coffeehouse and Blue Sky Kitchen tell News 12 the city's WiFi access is too complicated. So now, they pay for Wi-Fi to offer free to customers.

"A lot of the bars will just give you their password," said Hubbard. "It won't kick you off like the Augusta Wi-Fi will."

In Aiken, a subscription won't be required, which leaves some business owners wondering if people will be exploiting businesses for the free internet access.

But, Pruiett said that's not a problem he's worried about.

"It's kind of a digital age anyways," he explained. "I don't think it's going to be a problem and I think anyone who has any hesitation to it is resistant to change and change is good."

The downtown Aiken internet access will cover the area between Barnwell Street, Greenville Street, York Street and Park Avenue. It will pop up on mobile devices as a free WiFi option and Atlantic Broadband officials say it should be up in running in July.

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