Yakima City Council Considers Public Wi-Fi System | Local

ByShannon J. Cortes

Mar 4, 2022

The subject of municipal Wi-Fi will be added to the agenda of an upcoming study session, the Yakima municipal council decided on Tuesday.

Council member Matt Brown said public Wi-Fi would bring improvements to the quality of life for Yakima residents.

“Over the past year of COVID, we’ve seen in our own school districts the severe lack of the internet being rolled out for our kids, and that’s not acceptable these days,” Brown said. “I would just like to see what our options are and how we can get there.”

Local school districts, including the Yakima School District, have expanded internet access so students can learn from home, but some residents still don’t have the connection or bandwidth to support multiple devices. . This is especially true in rural areas, where there is a lack of broadband infrastructure.

Council member Holly Cousens said council had previously looked at the cost of adding internet to the downtown business core. So she said there should be a starting point.

Deputy Mayor Soneya Lund said the idea had been discussed before the pandemic hit, but hadn’t gained much traction. She said she was happy to talk about it again.

The idea has been debated for several years. More recently, in 2020, city staff reviewed a proposal to install Wi-Fi in three city parks and found that the project would cost approximately $65,000 and would require $5,000 per year to replace the equipment. The city also looked at existing Wi-Fi networks and discovered that 200 free networks already existed in Yakima.