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Oswego mayor's plan to offer free downtown WiFi unveiled

At the Oswego Common Council meeting Monday, Mayor Billy Barlow presented his plan for free public WiFi in the city's downtown. The young mayor called it an essential amenity to modernize the port city.

He said the idea came to him when filling out Oswego's application for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's downtown revitalization initiative competition, Barlow said the city missed out on a few points because it does not offer free access to wireless internet service. If their ultimate objective is to revitalize the Port City, Barlow said, why wait to find out if they win one of the competition's $10-million-dollar prizes?

"If you look at the goals we have for our downtown: how can we develop second-story living downtown, how can we attract some of the SUNY students to live downtown, hang out downtown - not just in the nightlife hours  but all day free public -- WiFi is really essential in my opinion." Barlow said.

Some on the Oswego Common Council and the public were hesitant to embrace Barlow's plan because of the cost. The city would need to purchase four WiFi portals, or antennas, at a one-time cost of $12,680. And, there would be a monthly server fee of $2,486, or $29,832. But Community Development Director Justin Rudgick defended the price, noting that Albany already offers free WiFi in its downtown region and Syracuse is looking into it as well.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.