Businesses could benefit from free wi-fi
A plan to introduce free public wi-fi to North East Hamilton could be a major boost for businesses in the area, store owners said yesterday.
Everton Dawes, the owner of Casual Footwear on Court Street, said that wi-fi could help stores expand into the online market.
He explained: “It would help businesses get an internet presence or accept credit cards.
“So if people come into the store and they don’t have money they can log onto their phone and transfer money.”
Mr Dawes said that business owners would also be encouraged to advertise on social media.
He added: “The wi-fi would really help those people who are online shoppers.
“Someone could browse the web, make a selection online and then the business can do a personal order for that person.”
He was speaking after the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation announced a plan to set up a public and private wi-fi network across the area.
Dennikia Roberts, the owner of Embellish Boutique, also on Court Street, said that the network could help attract customers into the area.
She added: “It’s definitely going to draw a crowd because everybody loves wi-fi.”
Ms Roberts said: “Anything free is going to draw people, so I can definitely see my customer base increasing because of this.”
She added she and her sister, Dennishia, who is also her business partner, moved their store into the area in May and that she had noticed it was hard for people to get access to the internet.
Ms Roberts said: “I’ve even had business owners come here and ask to use the wi-fi, then it gets slow because everybody’s using it.”
The BEDC this week extended its deadline for proposals to create the network from tomorrow to January 3.
The corporation posted a request for proposal on the Government website last month for qualified companies to submit proposals to provide the wireless network.
It explained: “The system will provide no-fee public access to the internet within the coverage area and will be able to accommodate needs of patrons to North East Hamilton area businesses, citizens, students, and numerous special event attendees in several annual events.
“The system will also provide a private secure access to the internet within the same coverage area.
“The BEDC intends to have a portal page for system access, which may be used to facilitate the dissemination of NEH related news and information.”
The BEDC plan said the public and private wi-fi network would cover the North East Hamilton Economic Empowerment Zone.
It added that the project could be used as a template for similar schemes elsewhere on the island.
Avis Soares, an employee at Court Street’s Jamaican Grill, said that the wi-fi could benefit everyone in the area, not just business owners.
She explained: “Not everyone has money to pay for wi-fi, so it would be a big help to a lot of people.
“They can stay in touch with their people abroad, but also shop online like the majority of people.”
Ms Soares added that internet access would also put more customers in touch with island restaurants through the Sargasso Sea delivery service.
She explained: “I work late nights so I understand that sometimes people don’t want to get out of their beds.
“So they can just call Sargasso, place the order online, and then someone can come up here when it’s done and they’re good to go.
“The restaurants will be more established, so people can find their locations, know where they are and just do what they have to do online.”
Ryan Brimmer, from Devonshire and a regular customer at Court Street businesses, said a free network connection would help people who could otherwise not afford the service.
He explained: “I could get free wi-fi across the street from one of the exempt companies, but those types of privileges aren’t afforded to people around these parts.
“So if anyone is able to implement that, I think that’d be good. I think that’s well worth the effort.”
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