0

Officials study countywide wireless

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett officials are working at high speed to provide one of the largest Internet networks in the country.

County commissioners could vote next week on a grant application which would spread wireless capabilities throughout all of the county's 437 square miles.

For about a month, officials have been scrambling to get information on the possible benefits and a proposed business plan to provide wireless access to homes and

businesses.

The application is due in a week and a half for one of four grants provided by the state.

"Broadband is the new dial-tone," Gov. Sonny Perdue said in a letter announcing the

program.

Wally Gramling, the county information officer, said government department heads have already come up with a nine-page list of benefits to the county government.

In addition, the county is trying to build partnerships with all of the local cities, the school system, Gwinnett's new college, the health department, the hospitals and electric membership corporations.

Officials in Lawrenceville and Duluth have already signed on to the idea.

Gramling said the county could use its eight radio towers to build most of the wireless infrastructure, and the county would have to decide whether it should use wi-fi networks or the less expensive but more fledgling wi-MAX technology.

"To keep pace we have to look at this," County Administrator Jock Connell said.

The city of Philadelphia was the first to propose a wireless network throughout its 135 acres, and Atlanta is working on a proposal apart from the state grants.