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Local

DeKalb City Council approves agreement with NIU to expand internet access

DeKALB – After a one-hour discussion on a proposal to provide complimentary public wireless internet service in downtown DeKalb, the City Council unanimously approved an agreement with Northern Illinois University on Monday to create an infrastructure to expand Wi-Fi access.

During the council’s Committee of the Whole meeting, representatives from the company Digital Lobby provided an outline on how the city could expand internet service for the downtown area and NIU.

DeKalb Information Technology Director Marc Thorson said discussions with the company have only regarded what options could be available. He said an agreement with any related company would be an opportunity to both provide internet service to the community and gather data on the services they may prefer.

“We can start building on this as we’re able to negotiate and figure out what works best for the city and for the university,” Thorson said.

Representatives from NIU at the meeting offered their support in teaming with Digital Lobby as a first step.

Brett Coryell, NIU vice president of information technology, said the point of the project is not whether Digital Lobby will be heading Wi-Fi service in 10 years.

“The point is making the first step,” Coryell said. “Inaction today will leave you in the same state or worse in the future.”

Although there was a consensus to bring the possibility of partnering with Digital Lobby during the committee hearing, the City Council approved an intergovernmental agreement with NIU to lay a foundation for Wi-Fi expansion where any company with similar services could help to expand service to downtown DeKalb.

Thorson said there would be a limited scope because of the amount of available funds, but the city would contribute $30,000 according to the terms of the agreement. Thorson said this agreement would need to be in place before taking any action on whether the city would work with Digital Lobby to provide downtown internet coverage.

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