PANGAEA Deploys Public Wi-Fi Project

  • Appalachian Regional Commission
  • PANGAEA
TRYON, NC — The recently completed PANGAEA Internet public Wi-Fi deployment has far exceeded expectations in both coverage and usage. The systems, which provide free public Wi-Fi Internet service via 57 access points in Chimney Rock, Lake Lure, Saluda, Columbus, and Tryon, served nearly ten times the projected number of users in 2016. PANGAEA is a non-profit provider of fiber optic Internet service.

The PANGAEA Public Wi-Fi project exceeded expectations in two ways.

First, PANGAEA built a prototype system in Tryon before applying for and receiving a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Efficiencies developed during the prototype phase enabled PANGAEA to design and build the original three systems under budget. Therefore an additional two markets were added to the project. Total project costs were about $60,000 and the Towns and PANGAEA contributed grant matching funds.

Second, Wi-Fi usage has far exceeded expectations. The original target was 50 daily users or 18,000 annual users. Since January 1, 2016, PANGAEA Public Wi-Fi has served 144,000 users. Since the project inception in 2015, 268,000 users have accessed the networks.

Nurturing Partner Relationships

According to PANGAEA Internet Operations Director Stu Davidson, developing strong relationships within each community was essential to the success of the project. “Partnering with the schools, business owners, and municipal and county governments was extremely important,” said Davidson. “These relationships allowed PANGAEA to deploy access points at locations that would maximize signal coverage as well as promote the service.”

PANGAEA’s nonprofit structure results in low-cost, ongoing management and maintenance of the network. “As part of our commitment to community service, PANGAEA will absorb the ongoing operating costs of the Wi-Fi networks,” according to Ron Walters, PANGAEA Internet executive director. “It will make the region more competitive by enhancing the economic development for our businesses, the quality of life for our citizens and the area’s perception and experience for visitors.”

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