By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Don’t expect author William Faulkner to browse the Internet from his permanent seat in front of City Hall, but downtown Oxford soon will have access to free, public wireless Internet connection.
The service is expected to be operative by late August and will be provided by the law firm Hughes Brown PLLC. Sites have been secured for the base antenna and most of the eight to 10 repeaters required to provide wi-fi along Lamar Boulevard from University Avenue to Jefferson Avenue, including the perimeter of the Square, said Jay Hughes, a principal in the firm.
“We’re excited about it,” said Hughes, who conceived the idea with his law partner, Nicholas Brown, after visiting cities where wi-fi was readily available and realizing the Lafayette County Courthouse was out of reach of the Internet for those with laptop computers.
Many businesses downtown have in-house wireless networks, but public Internet access is largely limited to certain restaurants and shops.
“This will provide a benefit to the 1.2 million visitors that come to Oxford every year,” Hughes said. “People will be able to use their laptops on the courthouse lawn, in shops around the Square. It’ll help people from reporters … to vendors and delivery people.”
Mayor Pat Patterson said public access to the Internet from anywhere in downtown will be a great benefit to townsfolk and visitors alike.
“We’re grateful for this gift,” he said.
Hughes Brown will pay for the installation and maintenance of all equipment, with service on ATamp&T Wireless. The installer and hardware provider is a longtime Hughes Brown client and will do the work with a discount.
“We’re not getting any financial benefit at all; there’s no hidden agenda,” Hughes said. “We’ve been very successful in this town, and it’s our way of providing a community service that we feel is needed in downtown Oxford.”