Binghamton WiFi Free, But Could Cost To Connect

By Justin Moss

July 22, 2010 Updated Mar 6, 2008 at 7:38 PM EDT

Free, wireless Internet is officially ready for people in the City of Binghamton.

But picking up the signal might be harder than you think.

The City of Binghamton used a state grant and 29-thousand dollars of city funds to bring free Internet downtown.

"We thought it was a very small investment that could potentially be a great asset for the city," says Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan.

The signal stretches about one-square mile.

"If I'm outside on my computer I can get a clear signal, and surf the Internet just fine, but if I'm in my apartment, a business or any building, I probably won't be able to pick up the signal."

Plexicomm runs the city's wireless service.

"This is primarily an outdoor WiFi service, performance will vary indoors, that's why we're making the repeaters available to the end user so they can extend that signal indoors," says Dan English of Plexicomm.

A repeater is installed near a window, and extends the signal inside your apartment or business.

Each device costs you 200 dollars, plus a 10-dollar fee each month.

Some downtown business owners say its worth the cost to bring free Internet indoors.

"College students and other visiting people they have access to the Internet rather than having to go home or whatever may have you," says Vincent Watkins, owner of The Pirate's Chest/Captain's Cafe.

Even outdoors, the signal won't always work.

We tried to pick up a signal here, just outside the Metro Center, but no luck.

Plexicomm says our laptop might have a weak wireless card, or the signal was blocked by surrounding buildings.

The company says based on user feedback it can adjust the signal, so more users aren't kicked off trying to log on.

The City hopes to generate money for the wireless service by selling advertisements on the login page.

To log on, just select your wireless options on your laptop.

Then connect to Binghamton WiFi, and click on the option to "surf for free."

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