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WiFi network set to cover Pierce County

Pierce County is on the way to being wired.

CenturyTel, a communications company specializing in broadband and fiber transport networks based in Louisiana, has been recommended by the Rainier Communications Commission to build a wireless network across most of Pierce County.

The commission advises county officials concerning communication needs in the area.

According to Bill Oltman, director of the commission, a request for information was sent out to 10 companies.

“CenturyTel said they would build the network for free,” Oltman said. “We were looking for a public safety network. That's what got us started.”

The plan is for CenturyTel to build pilot projects to prove their plan. If all works out as planned, a countywide wireless broadband network would be built.

The commission sees the public safety network as a backup that will move across jurisdictions.

According to a Pierce County press release, residents and businesses will receive free WiFi service during a 60-day test period in the pilot project areas and a limited-capacity free service is also planned.

Oltman said the free service would likely be about one hour per day, which allows people to try the WiFi network.

“We expect this to be cheaper than DSL,” Oltman said. “Another big advantage is competition and a multi-million dollar investment in the community.”

Pierce County Councilman Shawn Bunney, who spearheaded the WiFi project, has earmarked $250,000 for the plan.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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