City of Rocky Mount launches free downtown WiFi network: 'This is a momentum'

Tom George Image
Thursday, June 13, 2024
City of Rocky Mount launches free downtown WiFi network
It's a project that the city has been working on for years.

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's something many take for granted - getting connected to the internet, but in 2024, some cities are still working to close the gap.

As you head through downtown Rocky Mount, it's a mix of new stores, shops, and restaurants, alongside some abandoned buildings. But the signs that things are growing are there, and now with some new WiFi, city leaders said they believe it'll be a big push in jumpstarting that growth even more.

The City of Rocky Mount announced that its new free public WiFi network is up and running covering the entire downtown area.

"It's good to be in a technically advanced direction in line with what all big cities are doing," says Anthony Cunningham from Kafe Louverture.

Kafe Louverture's signature Haitian patties became so popular in Brooklyn, that they even made The New York Times.

A few years ago, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Big Apple's loss became Rocky Mount's gain, in the hopes of an easier time and a lower cost of living.

They're now a big fish in a small pond, but they see the potential in Rocky Mount.

"Heading in the right direction has not been easy but I believe there is a plan and slow growth is happening," Cunningham said.

They're excited now that as people come downtown, they'll have access to free WiFi.

It's a project that the city has been working on for years, building the infrastructure for the free downtown network. It only cost $259,000, which is less than what city officials anticipated, and they believe it'll pay off.

"We've got some projects, the other infrastructure projects that we're hoping to bring downtown new businesses that will soon be announced to come downtown. And so this is a momentum that we are seeking to build and capitalize on going forward," said City Manager Keith Rogers, Jr.

It's also closing a gap.

13% of North Carolina households still don't have any internet access, slightly higher than the national average, especially in rural areas.

Even some Rocky Mount natives say they didn't have reliable internet access until they were older.

"I was near about grown, ... was probably in my mid-20s," said Jessica Amous.

Amous is glad it's a much different situation for her children.

"I hate to see the world without the internet because most kids I know use the Internet every day," she said.

You can access the new public WiFi on the publicly available networks under "Connect Rocky Mount" on your computer or smartphone.