BLink Bluffs Community Wi-Fi
BLink is a free and open Wi-Fi network that boosts connectivity in many Council Bluffs neighborhoods, all of the Council Bluffs Community School District buildings, and many outdoor spaces. BLink is available for students, residents, and visitors.
At project completion, 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 most homes in Council Bluffs.
BLink funding continues to be a community-wide effort. No tax dollars have been used. BLink is supported by many community partners who have contributed funds, time, materials, labor, or expertise. BLink Partners include Google, Iowa West Foundation, Charles E. Lakin Foundation, CB Area Chamber of Commerce, Iowa Western Television, Echo Group, Emspace, Mid-American Energy, Miller Electric, Ruckus Wireless, SmartWAVE Technologies, UNITE Private Networks, Bluffs Electric, City of Carter Lake, OPPD.
The City of Council Bluffs had the idea of providing free Wi-Fi when Google donated Chromebooks to the Council Bluffs Community School District as part of a one-to-one initiative, one laptop per student. It became apparent that some students couldn’t use the laptops at home because they didn’t have internet access, limiting their success in school.
In the spring of 2014, The Council Bluffs Community School District approved a plan that included a strategy to expand its Wi-Fi network for students in the community. The City of Council Bluffs and the Council Bluffs Community School District formed a 28-E organization to expand free community Wi-Fi and expanded the network for the District’s students. A committee known as the Council Bluffs Area Wi-Fi Consortium assembled announced the first two phases and began fundraising.
In 2022, the consortium celebrated the completion of the BLink network for the Council Bluffs Community School District and the start of a BLink network for Lewis Central Community School District.
How do I connect to BLink?
- You must have a Wi-Fi-capable device and be inside one of the coverage areas. Enable wireless on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, select the BLink network, accept the terms and conditions, and connect. It’s that easy.
Who is paying for BLink?
- BLink is funded by our partners who have donated money, time, materials, labor, or expertise to the project. The Iowa West Foundation has contributed more than $1 million to BLink. No tax dollars are being used to install or maintain this project.
What is the purpose of BLink?
- The purpose of BLink is to provide reliable free community Wi-Fi to the citizens, visitors, and students in the coverage areas.
Who is responsible for BLink?
- The Council Bluffs Area Wi-Fi Consortium (CBAWC) is the organization responsible for the planning, installation, and maintenance of the BLink Wi-Fi network. The CBAWC is an Iowa 28-E organization. The City of Council Bluffs and the Council Bluffs Community School District are partners in CBAWC.
How can I get help with BLink?
- There is no in-home support for BLink. Council Bluffs Community School District students and parents can contact [email protected] for assistance with BLink. Citizens can stop by the Council Bluffs Public Library, where some staff members have been trained to assist community members.
Is BLink network secure?
- The free community Wi-Fi is not a secure network. Users should not transmit highly sensitive, confidential, or financial data on this network. The school district’s link to the student computers is a secure network and safe for students to use their school-issued computers.
Is BLink filtered or monitored for content?
- No, the community Wi-Fi component of BLink is an unfiltered and unmonitored connection to the Internet. School district devices connect to a separate BLink network that is filtered for students, just like the network inside the school buildings.
When will my neighborhood get BLink?
- The goal is to provide the BLink network across the city where it is financially and technically feasible. Check the coverage map for details.
Can I cancel my home Internet service?
- BLink is a low bandwidth community Wi-Fi to be used for web browsing, email, search, etc. It is not intended for media streaming (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Roku) or gaming. BLink is not a replacement for carrier-based Internet service to the home.
Will I get BLink inside my home?
- BLink is an outdoor Wi-Fi that is intended to get “to the door.” There is no guarantee of getting the signal inside your home. It is possible to purchase a signal repeater that can boost the BLink signal from outside into your home.
Can I boost the Blink signal into my home?
- Yes, there are devices for sale that can amplify the signal inside your home. These devices are available from technology retailers in stores and online. Search for “Wi-Fi Network Extender.”
What if BLink doesn’t work at my house?
- BLink’s goal is to deliver free community Wi-Fi to as many students and citizens as possible. There is no guarantee of connection at any single point in the community. BLink will make the best effort to blanket the city with a high-quality product wherever feasible.