Several areas in Washington could become Wi-Fi hot spots if the Washington City Council approves a $10,000 contract on behalf of the Washington 175th anniversary committee.

Members of the anniversary committee addressed the council administration/operations committee during their meeting, Monday, June 25.

Wi-Fi is a wireless internet connection where people with laptops, iPads or other devices can connect to the Internet.

“We think this will be a nice addition to the community,” said Bridgette Epple, committee member.

The city’s 175th anniversary is in 2014, but committee members began planning for the event about a year ago.

As part of the celebration, the committee is planning several community projects.

Epple said that after reviewing YHTI and AT&T locally, the best deal came from Big River, a Cape Girardeau-based company. The Fair Board also uses the company.

Currently, the committee is contacting other communities who have used the company to find out if they’re satisfied with the service.

Two zones are needed in the city, the fairgrounds and the lake, and downtown. Coverage areas will include Lions Lake, the city pool, Downtown Washington and the riverfront park.

Each zone would have two access points. The equipment that transmits the wireless signal will be at each of the access points.

Because the equipment doesn’t need height and is small, Epple said it could easily blend in and will not be distracting or detract from downtown buildings.

If a three-year contract is signed, there is no cost up front for the equipment.

The committee would raise funds to repay the city.

The contract is about $1,700 per year, per zone, or $3,360 per year. The three-year contract comes to just over $10,000.

“The committee feels that we should have no problem raising the $10,000, and we would make that commitment to the city,” Epple said.

The goal is to install the equipment next year.

To discourage people from using too much bandwith, people will be dropped after a certain amount of time, Epple said.

About 40 people per access point, or 160 total, will be able to access the network at a time.

The network will be open, or not secure, Epple said.

In 2016, the city would decide whether to renew the contract.

Councilwoman Connie Groff said that the project sounded like a “wonderful idea.”

Councilman Joe Holtmeier agreed.

“I think it’s a great idea. I think the way the world is going we need something like this,” he said.

Usage reports would be provided to the city to see how much it is being used.

“You can find out quickly if people are utilizing it or not,” Epple said.

The proposal was forwarded to the full council to be voted on at a later date.