Service would have provided blanket connection to buildings within specified boundaries of downtown area
By Kaitlin Mayhew -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Town Council decided not to pursue a plan that would have provided wireless Internet connection to all of downtown Strasburg at its Monday night work session.
The service, as originally described by Assistant Town Manager Greg Martin, would provide a blanket wireless connection to buildings within specified boundaries of the downtown area.
However, there was some discussion between council and James Funkhouser, Shentel client account manager, as to whether the service was necessary, or even outdated.
"This is what's changed the world," Funkhouser said, holding up a smart phone. "I can press a button on this and everybody in this room can have wireless Internet."
He said that providing wireless access for a particular area downtown is possible, and would function similarly to how schools provide wireless Internet.
However, he said that with the low prices for wireless access it would likely be easier for each business that wants to provide the service for its customers to do it separately from the town.
"It can be done, but a lot of times this ends up being a solution in search of a problem," Funkhouser said. "I can't think of a lot of examples where it has actually worked."
He said it's up to the town to decide whether it wants to play that role as an Internet service provider.
"I think [the idea] is a dinosaur. I don't think it's realistic," said Councilman Rick Redmon.
His sentiments were generally echoed by the rest of council.
However, the idea introduced by Funkhouser of creating a telecommuting center in town was met with more favorable reactions.
"I think it is a good idea but I think it should be tested," said Councilman Justin Ritenour. "I think there needs to be a small amount of research put in."
The idea would be to transform a building in town into a center with high speed Internet access and possibly other office equipment where people could come and use the facility instead of commuting to Washington or Northern Virginia.
"If there was a demand for it, the more people we could keep off the roads I think the better off we are," said Councilman Bob Baker.
Baker also mentioned a telecommuting center could be a good use for the old Brill building on King Street.
A telework center, called the NetTech Center, was in operation in Winchester for over 15 years.
The federally funded center closed its doors at the end of February 2011.