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Newport Wi-Fi Park Nearly Completed

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Visitors to Newport’s WiFi parks will soon have access to high-speed internet. Ritter Communication installed a RightFiber system in the park.

The Newport Economic Development Commission (NEDC) recently received funding from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to spearhead the project in partnership with the Southwest Planning and Development District.

The project costs $231,765 and should be completed by Sept. 15, NEDC director John Chadwell told Talk Business & Politics. It’s part of a downtown revitalization project that includes a $3 million employee training center.

“We have seen a real need arise within the community and have been amazed at the support we have received in addressing it,” said Chadwell. “With the help of Ritter Communications, we are building infrastructure that will allow citizens to remotely access high-quality wireless internet in a safe outdoor environment in the event of another pandemic-like event. .”

The park was partially funded by a Pandemic Preparedness Grant. Before the pandemic, many people in the community used the library’s free WiFi. He added that local students and residents struggled to complete classes and work online because they didn’t have access to reliable high-speed internet when the library had to be closed.

The park has 41 regular parking spaces, 4 disabled parking spaces, 4 shaded picnic table areas, and free WiFi. The new WiFi park is aesthetically designed to replace previously underutilized land adjacent to the community library. The park’s Wi-Fi service is essentially an extension of the library’s public Wi-Fi network.

Alan Morse, President and CEO of Ritter Communications, said: “The park will help ensure Newport residents and businesses have access to high-quality internet and stay connected.”

Ritter Communications was first contacted by the mayor and the Newport Chamber of Commerce about the project after announcing plans to expand RightFiber services to the Newport community in April. The expansion cost $2.6 million.

“Expanding our residential fiber network to serve all neighborhoods within Newport, and ensuring discounted internet service is available to all eligible households through the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). We want to cover this community WiFi park by making it recognizable to the community, all the groundwork for bridging the digital divide in the community,” Morse added.

“We are grateful to NEDC for its vision and leadership, and to partners like Ritter Communications, who are helping to uplift and improve our communities. It shows the amazing results that can be achieved,” said Newport Mayor David Stewart.