Free Wi-Fi available downtown for students

By SUSAN AMUNDSON,

In an effort to keep students caught up on their school work, Experience Columbia LLC and Swyft Connect are teaming up to bring free wireless internet downtown.

Jacob Harrison with Experience Columbia said the intention is to offer the service to students who do not have internet or reliable internet access at home. Students and families can drive up to either Main or Second streets to access it.

“We want them to be safe, though. Work in your cars,” Harrison said.

Harrison stressed the purpose of providing the service is to allow students a chance to do their school work; that is the No. 1 goal. He said it is not meant for streaming, gaming or watching Netflix or any other movie site.

To access the internet:

l Select “Free WiFi by SWYFT/Exp-Columbia” wireless network;

l The user’s device will be redirected to a Facebook portal where they must enter their Facebook credentials to be allowed to join.

The coverage area includes immediately in front of the courthouse along Main Street down to Church Street. Coverage will also extend on Second Street on the east side to Second Street Bean and behind the former police station, (the current Main Street building) on the west side.

Drake Taylor, marketing director with Swyft Connect, which provides the cable TV in Columbia along with internet and telephone service, said the company is trying to help out the community during a difficult time.

In addition Taylor said they are offering a plan for new customers only with students in kindergarten through 12th grade for six months at $19.99.

Taylor also said Swyft has signed a pledge with the FCC ensuring waiving late fees and prolonging disconnections for non-payment for at least 60 days for customers who have been displaced by COVID-19.

Harrison said Lloyd Thompson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, has also been instrumental in setting everything up on the technology side. Thompson also works in telecommunications at William Carey University.

Harrison emphasized while the service is for students, for everyone to use utmost caution when utilizing the service, especially by working in vehicles and following standards set out by the CDC.