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Good news on the river: Guerneville has free Wifi

The Office of Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins is excited to announce free public WiFi in Downtown Guerneville. To access the WiFi, just select "Guerneville Public" in your WiFi settings and join the network. The splash page for the free WiFi also provides great information including emergency services, an event calendar, rural living and history, along with some business information.

The network extends from Fife Creek Commons, Timberline, West Sonoma Inn and R3; down to the Bank of America Building and West County Health Centers; down Main Street to Coffee Bazaar and the Hernandez Realty and the Plaza, and across Johnson’s Beach. The free WiFi will provide equal access to workers, businesses, residents and visitors to downtown Guerneville.

According to the Fifth District Office, the project came about as a collaboration between the Russian River Alliance and a grant from the Fifth District Office. Once the project vision and funding were in place, Bryan Hughes of the Russian River Alliance researched and found a model for a similar project working well for the past 10 years in rural Vermont.

Hughes and this technical team installed 10 access points throughout the downtown to create a mesh network. Five of the access points are gateways with Comcast backhauls and the other five are repeaters. Businesses will be able to provide online information and services to downtown patrons now that there is public WiFi available.

“This project is not only about equitable access, it is also about disaster preparedness. During the 2019 wildfires we had no power and our communities were evacuated. The cell towers and broadband were all down, leaving fire fighters and residents without information or communications access,” Hopkins wrote in her newsletter to constituents.

With $390,000 of additional funding from ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) for Stage Two of this project, the Alliance will be adding Starlink Satellite hook ups powered by solar and with battery backup which allow the network to operate when there is no power, no Comcast and no cellular network.

"Never again will we be without any digital communications during disasters,” said Supervisor Hopkins. "It's wonderful to see our tax dollars providing equitable access, disaster preparedness, and support for downtown business and visitors."

"This additional round of ARPA funding means rolling out this project next to Cazadero, Jenner, Bodega Bay, Bodega, and Forestville. Every one of these communities will have this free service fully paid for 5 years!" explained Bryan Hughes of the Russian River Alliance.

At $7 per resident a year, this project shows how well placed public investment paired with local expertise can make a big impact in rural communities.

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