Grovetown might become Columbia County's newest hot spot.
City officials are looking into a state plan that provides funding for wireless broadband technology for Internet access.
The idea could lead to wireless access throughout the city. Plans are just getting started, and officials haven't decided how such a network might be implemented, including whether there would be a cost involved to users.
"If you decide to do this right now, there's no way we can meet the deadlines," Dale Stoddard told the mayor and city council members at Monday's semimonthly city council meeting. Stoddard said the city must complete a feasibility study, organize a city committee to oversee the process and select a vendor before a Sept. 28 application deadline for the state program.
"We can't do that in 30 days. There's no way."
Gov. Sonny Perdue approved $1 million in funding for Georgia cities, counties and local government authorities in the second year of the Wireless Communities Georgia program. City officials sent Stoddard as a representative to an Aug. 22 informational workshop put on by the Georgia Technology Authority for communities interested in applying for the funding.
The meeting, connected to seven Georgia cities through videoconference, explained the steps necessary to obtain the funding.
City officials agreed to allow Stoddard to speak with a member of the five-county Clarks Hill Partnership, which already has some information about bringing wireless technology to rural Georgia communities.
City officials also agreed to allow Stoddard and another city representative to visit Athens or another city that has recently completed wi-fi infrastructure and currently operates a wireless broadband network to understand the details of creating such a network in Grovetown.
"It would behoove us, if we're going to do this smartly, to go out and talk and figure out what's what," Stoddard said.
The city's only wi-fi location available to the public is at the McDonald's on Wrightsboro Road. The wireless coverage area extends just more than half a mile around the restaurant, but requires a fee to use the connection.
Sonny McDowell, the president of the Grovetown Merchants Association, agreed that a citywide and city-operated wireless network would be attractive to new businesses and residents.
"I'm certainly interested in looking into it further," McDowell said.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.