Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Last week's official launch of East End Wireless was a major success! Gov. Joe Manchin, Mayor Danny Jones and Delegate Carrie Webster, along with East End Main Street Director Ric Cavender and Charleston Area Alliance President Matt Ballard, welcomed the service. Big thanks to the City of Charleston and The Clay Center for sound equipment and the YWCA of Charleston for furniture pieces from its Second Seating store and Perkin' Up coffee shop.

Below is a story about the announcement from the Charleston Gazette. Read more from the Gazette at, WSAZ-TV at and the Create West Virginia blog at

East End Wireless Internet service officially launched

By Kellen Henry
Staff writer

Residents and visitors in Charleston's East End can now upload while they chow down or shop at businesses along Washington Street.

After months of delay, East End Main Street officially launched its free wireless service to homes and businesses Thursday afternoon.

Residents have been able to log on to test the service for the last month, said Ric Cavender, program manager for the group.

About 200 users have tried the Internet in the last few weeks, during a test of the service from the Capitol to CAMC General Hospital.

Eight repeaters are currently operating along Washington Street. The group plans to put eight more in next week, each passing on the Internet connection for 750 feet, from the first hub at the Bluegrass Kitchen restaurant.

"We had to figure out what worked best and find the most strategic spots," Cavender said.
During the test, East End Main Street experimented with the repeaters' positions to get the best signal. The connection is as fast as a commercial or residential broadband connection and the new repeaters being added will keep it fast as more people log on, Cavender said.

The wireless will become operational in phases, with Washington Street online between the Capitol Complex and the Clay Center, by September. Wireless should be available to the Smith, Virginia and Quarrier Street areas by the end of the year.

By 2009, the broadband signals will span about a square mile and serve 1,500 properties and serve 200 businesses, including Capitol Market and Appalachian Power Park. The order of completion is based on "making sure the businesses can use the service and for economic development and revitalization," Cavender said.

The wireless zone will run between the 35th Street Bridge and Leon Sullivan Way, east to west. It will include Kanawha Boulevard to Piedmont Road in the East End, from north to south.

To access the wireless service, residents need to click on the unsecured East End Main Street connection. East End businesses and residents are not encouraged to give up their own service and to be vigilant about sharing personal information along the unsecured network.

Volunteers, officials and a few neighbors gathered in front of the East End mural at the 400 block of Elizabeth Street for the announcement yesterday.

"No wires here," said Gov. Joe Manchin, as he ran his hands around a laptop held by Charleston Mayor Danny Jones at the launch. State and local officials said they were enthusiastic about how the free wireless access could help develop the business infrastructure in the neighborhood.

"There weren't restaurants down this way [in the 1980s]. It was hard to get people to come here," Jones said. "It will make a difference in your businesses, all the businesses around here."

East End Main Street announced it would offer free wireless access, in July of 2007. The Internet was originally supposed to be operational by October 2007, but the project stalled before organizers and volunteers began working to make the project a reality.

The group received a $25,000 Local Economic Development Assistance Grant from the state to fund the equipment for service.

The money for the Internet services provided through Suddenlink is being raised by East End Main Street. By 2009, the group will have to evaluate how to sustain the service.
"It comes down to what we can afford," Cavender said.


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