The Whakatāne District Council-led Recovery Office is working with internet service provider Evolution Networks to provide free Wi-Fi hotspots to Edgecumbe and its surrounds for the next 12 months.

District Recovery Manager Julie Gardyne says the initiative will provide Wi-Fi hotspots that will effectively ‘enliven’ the town, enabling anyone with a mobile device – cell phone, lap top or tablet – to access the internet.

“We’re covering the costs of the long-term infrastructure and free WIFI access for 12 months,” she says. “The WIFI access will be a great asset across recovery, helping our Navigators and other agencies working in the community; businesses as they get back up and running; and families returning home.  The coverage extends beyond the town, so will also be useful for farming families and other Plains residents.

“We would like to acknowledge the support of Fonterra for this initiative, allowing Evolution Networks access to their buildings to mount equipment.”

The free Wi-Fi signal isn’t intended for large band-width streaming such as Netflix, but having the infrastructure in place provides the ability for residents to access a provider plan.

Evolution Networks Business Development Manager Mark Simpson says his company is offering to waive the installation charge for the first 20 new Edgecumbe customers and provide all new users with a free plan upgrade for the first six months.

It is hoped that the core equipment can be installed over the next week, after which the hotspots will become active.

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