Groups Ask City to Support Uptown Wi-Fi Proposal

By Coburn Gillies

Enjoy Oxford is working to bring free wireless service to the city’s two uptown parks.

The Student and Community Relations Commission (SCRC) passed a resolution in support of the idea on Feb. 22, and Miami’s Associated Student Government (ASG) followed suit on March 5, asking City Council to support the proposal.

Enjoy Oxford, the city’s visitors bureau, would handle bringing the free Wi-Fi to Oxford Memorial Park and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park, said Jessica Greene, executive director of the organization.

“We have a formal process we go through. We have to get proposals from three companies about how it would work, with costs and coverage,” said Greene.

Enjoy Oxford has asked three telecommunications companies, Cincinnati Bell, Frontier and Spectrum, to each submit a proposal, said Charles Kennick, the chair of SCRC and a member of ASG.

“We’re also asking the companies right now how much extra effort would it take to cover all of High Street, from Campus Avenue to College Avenue,” Kennick said. The idea would be for Enjoy Oxford to administer and pay for the service, possibly by selling advertising on the network’s homepage.

Kennick described the service as one more amenity to improve the quality of life in Oxford. In this case, he said, the addition of Wi-Fi would have the added advantage of attracting more people to the uptown area.

“Whatever you need to use the internet for, the intent is to get people into the park,” Kennick said. “The goal is to not only provide the service to get people there but also to get people to hang out around Oxford, to buy stuff, maybe get a coffee, things like that. It’s an effective third space”—a place other than home or work where people spend time.

The idea of bringing free Wi-Fi to the parks has been under consideration by Enjoy Oxford for more than a year. City Councilman Glenn Ellerbe, who sits on the SCRC, recommended the ASG pass a resolution in support of the idea as a way of urging the city to get behind it.

City Manager Doug Elliott said it is too soon to tell whether the project would be considered in the upcoming city budget, or even whether it would need to be, given the involvement of Enjoy Oxford.

“We start our budget process for the year 2020 this spring. We meet with department heads to talk about their capital projects. There’s competition for those dollars. We look at the capital needs of our various departments and recommend something to the council,” Elliott said.

Although the current proposal only affects uptown parks, Enjoy Oxford and SCRC hope the bricked section of High Street will eventually receive the same service, Kennick said. The service may also one day extend into other public areas of the city such as Oxford Community Park, home of the city’s new aquatic center, he said.