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Clifton: Mobile internet may come to Pierce County

High speed mobile internet may be a reality soon in Pierce County, according to Zoning Specialist Brad Roy of Pierce County's Department of Land Management.

Roy appeared before the Clifton Town Board to see if board members would approve of this if the project were to come to fruition.

Pierce County has applied for a federal grant from the Rural Utility Service, which is part of President Obama's Recovery Act.

According to Roy, the county should know in September if it is to receive the grant. Application deadlines for this grant are March 15.

Roy said installing the wireless system in the county would require construction of towers to transmit signals. The towers resemble 70-foot wooden telephone poles.

Roy asked board members if the county could place towers in the town road right of ways. He stressed safety and said the towers would be placed as far from the road as possible.

"Clifton is covered pretty well with county roads," Roy said. "We would need some use of the town roads."

Chair Leroy Peterson asked how many of these towers would be needed in Clifton Township and throughout the county.

Roy said less than ten in the township, but was not sure how many throughout the entire county. The number of poles needed depends on the terrain. Flat areas require fewer towers.

The provider for the mobile internet would be Clearwire, a company that specializes in wireless technologies. Clearwire is currently working on a network in Minneapolis.

According to Roy, this WiMax Internet combines Wi-Fi and cell phone technology. Squad cars would be able to have internet right in the vehicles.

Clearwire's Web page describes the technology as "mobility you love about your cell phone with the speed you want from broadband."

Board members agreed that township residents would be happy to have this technology available to them. No true permission will be granted until the county receives the grant.

In other business:

The board approved hiring Stevens Engineering to assist in the completion of the town's Comprehensive Plan.