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Linden eyes city-wide Wi-Fi

LINDEN – Marengo’s county seat will soon be a wireless internet hub as City Hall has partnered with Blackbelt Technologies to set up a handful of Wi-Fi hot spots in the city.

“We work almost exclusively in rural areas,” Wayne Green of Blackbelt Techologies said.

The company set up a Wi-Fi hot spot at the Linden Volunteer Fire Department during ChillyFest in December to both test the equipment’s effectiveness and gauge local reaction.

Satisfied with the results of that test, the City of Linden and Blackbelt Technologies are now prepared to move forward with the project, which will see the fire department hot spot moved to City Hall and two to three others posted at local restaurants.

Linden becomes the latest in a string of rural cities effected by the work of Blackbelt Technologies, a corporation Green – a Dixon’s Mills native – said focuses its efforts on smaller communities.

“I know with the stimulus package for broadband, there are some areas it is still not touching,” Green said.

Blackbelt Technologies’ work in Linden would provide the city with wireless internet for little to no cost.

“We’re using equipment we already have in house now, so there is no cost associated with any of that,” Green said. “The municipality receives the revenues that generally would go to one of the carriers. We provide the support services to make sure things stay up and working.”

Exactly what Internet service connectivity would cost the average citizen of Linden has yet to be determined.

“Generally speaking, that cost is always lower than the carriers’ cost,” Green said.

As for the benefit Blackbelt Technologies receives from its benevolence? Green said that answer lies in the company’s ability to develop Linden’s technological capabilities.

“The first benefit is we are extremely community-focused,” Green said. “We’re not a nonprofit organization, but we believe in a long-term view. We want to make an investment in the community. We want to develop the community by proliferating technologies. We’re one of the few companies that is actually focusing on the rural areas using this type of technology.”

According to Linden Mayor Mitzi Gates, the next step for the community will be to hold a community meeting to inform the public of the technologies being installed and answer any questions that may be posed.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Marengo County Courthouse.