Jul 22, 2020 | posted by Conner Williams

DirectLink, in collaboration with the City of Canby, is pleased to announce they have received a national Smart Rural Community Grant (SRC) of $5,000 toward the installation of free WiFi access during open hours in three Canby city parks. The organizations have worked closely together over the last couple of years to secure and implement this program scheduled to be completed this September. 

The three parks to receive free WiFi service are Wait, Legacy and Locust. These parks collectively attract more than 75,000 users annually. The secure WiFi platform will promote city and community events and is intended to support tourism and local industry. The collaborative project is possible due to matching funds, as required for all SRC grants, provided by DirectLink and the City of Canby who is installing power systems and financing the ongoing costs of the fiber optic Internet monthly service. Watch our COVID-compliant ribbon cutting ceremony on Facebook Live at 4:00PM on Wednesday, August 5. 

“The Library is one of the only free opportunities for WiFi within Canby city limits. Reduced library hours may affect someone’s ability to apply for a new job, work on schoolwork, or apply for benefits by not having the access to free WiFi,” said Jamie Stickel, Economic Development Director for the City of Canby. “We need additional opportunities for our citizens to not just survive, but to thrive.” 

Coffee shops and restaurants provide free WiFi to patrons as well, but for those few dining areas that are open due to COVID, a purchase of food or beverage is required, limiting use only to those who can afford this option. By providing free WiFi in centralized Canby locations – Legacy, Locust and Wait Parks – access is given to those who need it most. 

“We aim to address the digital divide so our neighbors who may not be able to afford home Internet service can still apply for jobs, access healthcare and school portals... and help to create a viable, desirable benefit that could bring in new residents, tourism and industry,” said DirectLink President Paul Hauer. 

Once installed, the system will be capable of accommodating up to hundreds of simultaneous users with a free connection at each park. The city plans to use the initial authentication screen to connect with the service to announce upcoming events for each park as well as relay important information. Internet speed per device and amount of connections can be adjusted over time as usage increases. 

Installation in Wait Park began in April and will be available for general public use at the end of July. Construction on the Legacy Park is already underway with an estimated activation date by the end of August. Fiber construction has begun for Locust Park which is the final piece of the project. 

The grant was provided by NTCA –The Rural Broadband Association through its Smart Rural Community program, which supports broadband-enabled community initiatives in rural America. These grants are designed to provide support for broadband-enabled solutions that generate innovative economic development, education, healthcare and other vital solutions for rural areas. 

NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield commented, “Smart Rural Community is a growing network of innovative broadband providers delivering the Internet’s fastest speeds in some of the most remote and rural communities of our country. I applaud DirectLink for its commitment to delivering broadband-enabled opportunities that drive innovation and promote economic development in the community.”

To learn more about the Smart Rural Community program, visit www.ntca.org/smart. 

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