PAYETTE — As snow fell outside the Payette Public library on Friday, Nov. 13, a small group of officials met inside to celebrate the launch of the library’s newly expanded public WiFi network.
The products and services provided to make the upgrades totaled $49,095. The upgrades are paid for through the Idaho Department of Commerce Idaho Broadband Grant program, and is part of two such $1 million grants received by the Idaho Commission for Libraries.
Speaking during this meeting was Ryan Zimmerle, account manager for Ednetics, a Post Falls-based provider of technology architecture which supplied the upgraded WiFi infrastructure at the library.
“What we’ve been able to do with this grant is offer six years of licensing for all the libraries, along with ongoing support that comes with that licensing,” said Zimmerle. “If there’s a technical issue, or some sort of change or a change that’s needed, that is baked into the licensing.”
Eric Forsch, Broadband Development Manager for the Department of Commerce, touted the library project as one more example of the state’s efforts to expand broadband access statewide.
“We’re so happy that the Governor decided that he wanted to use CARES Act dollars to create a broadband grant … we’re really appreciative of all that,” said Forsch. “I hear stories about people not having access to broadband across the state … I’ve heard stories of people losing jobs because they’re forced to work from home and they can’t work from home.”
According to Donna Eggers, Public Information Officer for the Idaho Commission for Libraries, the project doesn’t increase the library’s bandwidth. However, its 100 Mbps of bandwidth is now accessible from Payette’s Central Park, which is adjacent to the library.
“The advantage of this project is that their internet is now available via their public Wi-Fi throughout their building and the surrounding area,” wrote Eggers in a Nov. 16 email.
State Librarian Stephanie Bailey-White expressed gratitude to Gov. Brad Little and the Department of Commerce for making this access possible.
““The Idaho Commission for Libraries is so grateful to the Governor and the Idaho Department of Commerce for making these CARES’ funds available for the improvement of internet connectivity at the Payette Public Library and other small and/or rural libraries throughout the state. Reliable, accessible, high-speed internet is critical to keeping Idaho students learning and adults earning.”
The network will be accessible to users outside the library 24 hours a day. Library Director Clay Ritter says he doesn’t anticipate any major issues will come up.
“I think that we have a good community and I don’t have huge concerns about [vandalism] at the moment; If those things do pop up in the future, we’ll reassess,” said Ritter, noting that the network has been accessible “for so many years now.”
Ritter expressed his amazement of how quickly the project was completed.
“For something of this magnitude, especially when you’re talking 49 libraries, a statewide project, the timeline of this is so short I can’t even fathom,” said Ritter.