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MAIN seeks support for wireless network in downtown Waynesville

An effort to install wireless Internet service throughout Downtown Waynesville is making a year-end push for donations.

The Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN), a nonprofit that has served Haywood County and 13 other Western North Carolina counties with dial-up Internet access since 1996, wants to install and operate the wireless network. The organization needs to purchase $16,000 in wireless antennas and related hardware in order to launch the wireless service, said Wally Bowen, MAIN’s executive director. Since the organization is a nonprofit, funds for those purchases are being raised through community donations.

“Community wireless will help ensure that no home, small business or local nonprofit is denied high-speed Internet service because they can’t afford commercial service from the cable or phone company,” Bowen said. “That’s why we are counting on local donors to help us raise this money before Dec. 31, the federal deadline for tax-deductible gifts this year.”

In addition to helping provide connectivity to those who many not be able to afford commercial service, the installation of a wireless network will make it easier for town leaders and businesses to create wireless hotspots where the public can get online for free, Bowen said. Unlike MAIN’s fee-based wireless service, free wireless is not secure and does not include network management and technical support.

Creation of a wireless network in Waynesville follows suit with thousands of other communities across the U.S., Bowen said. Last summer the Supreme Court and FCC ruled that cable and phone companies are not required to open their networks for broadband reselling by independent Internet service providers.

“These rulings have created ‘duopoly’ control over broadband access to the Internet. Wireless is the only technology not subject to monopoly control, so it’s critical that it be deployed widely in order to ensure consumer choice and a competitive marketplace,” Bowen said.

Tax-deductible donations to MAIN’s community wireless effort in Waynesville can be sent to: MAIN, 34 Wall Street, Suite 407, Asheville, N.C. 28801. Donations should be designated for “Waynesville wireless.”

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