BLink-Bluffs Free Community Wi-Fi
The City of Council Bluffs has something in common with a big city in the Silicon Valley. Council Bluffs and San Jose, CA both provide free community Wi-Fi. Here in Council Bluffs, many residents, students and area businesses can log on to the network called, “BLink-Bluffs Community Wi-Fi.”
The City of Council Bluffs began offering free community Wi-Fi in 2009. The first Wi-Fi zones connected users in Downtown, the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex, and Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park. The City of Council Bluffs and Council Bluffs Community School District worked together to form the Wi-Fi Consortium to provide additional public Wi-Fi in the community.
The idea of providing free Wi-Fi surfaced for the Council Bluffs Community School District when Google donated Chromebooks to the district as part of a one-to-one initiative, one laptop per student. However, some students couldn’t use the laptops at home because they didn’t have internet access. Their success in school was limited. Chief Information Officer for the City, Mark Howard said, “Once completed, we’ll have the largest free outdoor public Wi-Fi in the world.”
When completed over the next five years in ten phases, the BLink coverage area will reach more than 20 square miles, providing Wi-Fi access to more than 40,000 people and reaching the doorsteps of nearly every home and business in Council Bluffs. Mayor Matt Walsh said, “Our continued commitment to this project, which does not use any tax dollars, demonstrates the city’s vision for community-wide access and growth.”
To see current coverage areas visit www.blinkwifi.org.
BLink funding and implementation is a community-wide effort. No tax dollars have been used. The project is led by the City of Council Bluffs and Council Bluffs Community School District and supported through funding, materials, and labor provided by the following partners:
• Iowa West Foundation
• Charles E. Lakin Family Foundation
• CBTV 17
• Echo Group
• MidAmerican Energy
• Miller Electric
• Ruckus Wireless
• SmartWAVE Technologies
• UNITE Private Networks