Project aims to provide free Wi-Fi to West Louisville - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Project aims to provide free Wi-Fi to West Louisville

Posted: Updated:
The first test site is up and running at the Shawnee Arts and Cultural Center. The first test site is up and running at the Shawnee Arts and Cultural Center.
You can only see it if you look up. It's the hardware for a new Wi-Fi network. It's available free to anyone within 200 square feet. You can only see it if you look up. It's the hardware for a new Wi-Fi network. It's available free to anyone within 200 square feet.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Connecting West Louisville to the future is part of the goal of a new program to provide free Internet access to the community.

The first test site is up and running at the Shawnee Arts and Cultural Center. It is already a hub of activity in the neighborhood, but now it has also become a gateway to the world.

Basketball is one of the many offerings at the Shawnee Arts and Cultural Center. Now there's a new effort to point kids such as these to a different kind of goal.

You can only see it if you look up. It's the hardware for a new Wi-Fi network. It's available free to anyone within 200 square feet.

It's the brainchild of resident Joe McNealy.

“There's about anywhere from 30-40 percent of the population of West Louisville that can't afford Internet access because of other bills associated with just daily living,” he said.

Technology giant Cisco donated the hardware, and Metro Council member Cheri Bryant Hamilton kicked in a $5,000 grant.

McNealy believes access to technology is one key to economic growth in west Louisville.

“We want to explore that economic engine on developing technology jobs in the community. And -- what the young people always say -- step one is giving the hookup,” said McNealy.

Erma Bush says the free hookup is a big plus for the neighborhood.

“Some people have Kindles but don't have Wi-Fi in their homes and can't use them. It gives us the opportunity to connect to the Internet, learn some new things, and keep on moving,” she said.

McNealy's long-term goal is free Wi-Fi connectivity for all of west Louisville.

He believes it can be done for less than $200,000, an investment he says will pay off many times in expanded opportunities for young people.

“Expose them to a broader perspective on what the possibilities are out there, as far as job opportunities or entrepreneurship opportunities, and educational opportunities,” he said.

McNealy has ambitious goals. He hopes the west end Wi-Fi project can be complete by the end of the year.

More: Free Wi-Fi coming to Shawnee Community Center as test for wider West Louisville rollout

Copyright 2015 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.