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Graves tackles Campbellsburg wifi problems

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By PHYLLIS McLAUGHLIN

Henry County Local

Bandwidth – or, rather, the lack of it – is the root of what’s ailing the free wireless internet wifi system being provided by the City of Campbellsburg.

That was the diagnosis given Monday to City Council by Brent Graves of PoweredOn in Carrollton, who was hired more than a year ago to set up the system meant to provide city residents with free wireless internet access.

While there are some problems with the three antennas he has set up in town, Graves said the signal is showing up on wireless computers and other devices, such as cell phones. And the signal is strong enough to provide an internet connection when accessed, which means the system is running, he said.

The key is the amount of time it takes to move from one Web page to another on a given website. The length of time it takes a long time to load pages from websites indicates there is not enough bandwidth to handle the amount of data people are trying to download, he said.

The problem may be the number of people trying to use the service at the same time. The more users there are, the higher amount of data that is being transferred; if the bandwidth is too low, that means fewer people can use the service at the same time.

Graves likened building a wireless service to building a water system. “You can install the infrastructure, but if you don’t have enough water, it won’t matter.”

The city uses Insight Communications to provide the Internet connection at 10 megabits per second. That connection is sent over a wireless router to the antenna installed behind City Hall, which then sends the signal to the two other antennas set up in town – one at Campbellsburg Elementary School and another on Melodye Lane.

Graves suggested that the city should contact Insight and increase the bandwidth to 20 megabits, and download time should be reduced. He said the bandwidth can be raised incrementally until users are satisfied with the service.

Increasing bandwidth is the only part of the equation that will cost the city money, he said.

Graves promised that he would, at no charge, do whatever he can to improve the signal from the router to the antenna at City Hall. Originally, the router was installed in a ceiling. Mayor Rex Morgan said the original location made it difficult to access and reset, when necessary, so he authorized moving the device.

Moving the router weakened the signal to the exterior antenna at City Hall, Graves said. He said he would find a better location for the router, but make sure it was still easy to access.

Second, Graves said he would rename the antennas so that residents would know exactly which antenna was giving the best signal for them to use. The antennas now all have the same name, which also makes troubleshooting difficult, he said.

Third, Graves said hewould repair the third antenna, located near councilman Jason Stanley’s home, so that it is fully operational. When it’s working, he said, users have been able to access the Internet from that signal, but the device is unstable and loses the Internet connection every few hours.

Councilman Jason Stanley, who lives on Melodye Lane, offered to allow the city to install an additional cable modem at his home, if necessary, to boost the signal. “I’m just wanting to see something get done,” he said. Wifi “is a great idea. I’ve pushed for it ever since you brought it up to council. But, it’s frustrating.”

“The coverage isn’t what I expected it to be,” Morgan agreed.

Morgan said he would look into the cost of increasing bandwidth. In the meantime, “I would like for you to come to our next monthly meeting and have those three issues resolved,” he told Graves.

Graves agreed to return to the council’s April 16 meeting.

“My commitment stands. ... I’m not going to leave you guys hanging,” Graves said. “We’ll get you to as good as the network can get. We’ll get you there.”