The addition of a second downtown Wi-Fi HotSpot has been announced by the Biddeford Downtown Development Commission and the City of Biddeford and will offer free internet along Main Street in the city. FILE PHOTO

BIDDEFORD — The addition of a second downtown Wi-Fi HotSpot that will extend free internet along Main Street in downtown Biddeford is being hailed as another step forward is the transformation and revitalization underway in the city.

Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant praised the free Wi-Fi extension is a genuine benefit for visitors and residents.

“Since the removal of MERC and the re-development of the mills, as predicted, our community has been able to attract more and more entrepreneurs to begin businesses here,” Casavant said. “Shop and restaurant openings have had an overwhelmingly positive effect on the vibe downtown, and the addition of free Wi-Fi service will only serve to attract more people and enhance the ongoing renaissance of the city.”

He said that Biddeford’s Economic Development Department has been instrumental in coordinating various aspects necessary to make the service happen.

“It took many people coming together, including GWI (Great Works Internet), the local Internet Service Provider who offered free internet connections to power the HotSpots and the experience of Axiom, an internet service provider that specializes in microwave, wireless service installations and David Flood, the owner of 265 Main St. (equipment location) to bring this project to fruition,” said Bill Durkin, chair of the Biddeford Downtown Development Commission. “GWI has also provided for free last year, the first HotSpot, with the equipment located atop City Hall.”

Durkin said that only a handful of communities in Maine offer free Wi-Fi and Biddeford sees it as a competitive advantage and the positive impression it has on Main Street residents, businesses and visitors.

According to Durkin, the HotSpot will allow users in outdoor spaces along Main Street in Biddeford to access the internet using any device, including tablets and computers, avoiding data charges to their cell phone.

He said that currently, the Wi-Fi signal is only available on Main Street from near Washington Street to near Elm Street, but plans are in place to expand the signal further east along Main Street in the coming months.

Recently, the Biddeford City Council amended an ordinance for downtown restaurants and outdoor dining, allowing them to expand their service area to the sidewalks and beyond, Durkin said and the new internet connection will enhance these diners’ experience.

In other areas that employ Wi-Fi in downtown location, HotSpots such as these attract hundreds and even thousands of users a month, as consumers increasingly rely on internet connectivity in their day-to-day lives, he said.

Sponsors for this new initiative are Bangor Savings Bank, which invests in many Maine communities in the form of nonprofit sponsorships, grants and partnerships initiatives; and New England Cancer Specialists, southern Maine’s largest medical oncology group whose mission is to make life better for people with cancer and blood disorders.

In 1978, the Biddeford Downtown Development Commission was established and is charged with addressing and improving the city’s downtown area.

Over the decades, the commission’s role has evolved to address changes in strategic direction and emphasis from the city, but always with the focus on downtown improvements for local businesses and visitors to the city, Durkin said.

TheBiddeford Downtown Development Commission spearheaded this investment and is working to expand HotSpots throughout the whole of the Main Street corridor, he said.

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected]

 

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