Internet users in Vail will soon have access to one free hour of broadband wireless service following a partnership announced by the Town of Vail and communications provider CenturyTel. Pending town approvals, the free Wi-Fi service is to be launched in the fall and is included in CenturyTel’s proposal to build a municipal wireless network in Vail, the first of its kind in the state and considered to be a model agreement for other CenturyTel partnerships across the country.
The town selected CenturyTel to build its system following a competitive bid process that included proposals from six other companies. The proposal was unanimously approved by the Vail Town Council at its July 18 evening meeting which authorizes the town manager to enter into an agreement.
Mayor Rod Slifer says Vail will be the first ski resort in the country to offer wireless Internet service of this magnitude. “We will have a state-of-the art system that benefits everyone here - guests, residents, businesses and our employees,” he said. “This is the kind of innovation that continues to differentiate Vail from other resort destinations.”
No investment is required by the Town of Vail. Instead, the town has agreed to an eight-year term for the network. In addition, the town will have special access to the network in exchange for CenturyTel’s use of municipal buildings and other town property to operate the system.
The Wi-Fi network will be launched during the upcoming ski season and will enable users to get free Internet access up to 300 Kbps (kilobits per second) anywhere in town in one-hour increments. At the end of the hour, users will be required to register again for more time. Faster Internet service with speeds up to 3 Mbps (megabits per second) will be available with pay plans for monthly, weekly or daily access. CenturyTel also plans to offer wholesale service to local resellers.
Engineers estimate that within Vail’s town boundaries, Wi-Fi users will have 95 percent coverage outdoors and 90 percent coverage indoors. Once the system is fully functional, it will be tested and fine tuned to maximize the coverage area.
The proposal provides access to a private network for municipal employees and a public safety network for emergency responders. Benefits of this public safety network include the capability of feeding real-time video from patrol cars to the communications center as an additional communications link for employees in the field.
“We applaud the Town of Vail for their forward thinking and initiative,” Karen Puckett, CenturyTel president and chief operating officer, said. “This is a strategic step for CenturyTel to expand our technologically advanced business outside of our traditional local telephone markets.”
The company’s presence in the region currently includes a combination of telephone and cable service in Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum.
For details, contact Ron Braden, Town of Vail Information Technology Director, at (970) 479-2154. or firstname.lastname@example.org.