Free Wi-Fi Coming to Purcellville?

The Purcellville Town Council is pressing ahead with efforts to boost internet connectivity, including the possibility of creating a free Wi-Fi network.

Citing complaints from residents and businesses that available internet services are too slow, too expensive or unreliable, Vice Mayor Karen Jimmerson and Councilman Nedim Ogelman have been exploring alternatives.

Jimmerson said a contract with Verizon to begin building a fiber infrastructure in town would cost $702,000, while a contract with Comcast—currently the town’s main provider of residential broadband—would be $155,000. Comcast would retain ownership of the infrastructure it provides.

“Our businesses and citizens deserve and need to experience the fastest and most consistent and most reliable access to the internet,” Jimmerson said.

As a test, the council is considering a plan to provide free Wi-Fi service at Fireman’s Field. If this pilot program goes well, a larger town-wide project could be implemented.

According to Purcellville’s Director of Information Technology Shannon Bohince, the first step after the Fireman’s Field pilot program could be the construction of a tower for a wireless system on the town’s wastewater plant. That would cost about $200,000. Next, other towers could be set up around town to provide better Internet, as well as cellular phone coverage.

“The big picture for us is to interconnect all the sites of the town as phase three of this,” Bohince said. “Each one of them could have cellular carriers on them for their 5G technology as they come in.”

For now, Bohince is continuing to design the pilot program.

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