Columbia County is blessed in many ways, with abundant natural resources, recreational opportunities, a thriving economy, and a vibrant, diverse, growing population. One of the literal unseen benefits of the county is the Wi-Fi that exists in county parks and other venues.
In 2010, the County received a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Grant, which led to the creation of the very successful Columbia County Community Broadband Utility (C3BU). C3BU works with local companies to provide cable and services to residents, but one of the benefits of having a county-operated broadband utility is that it is within the county's capability to put fiber-optic lines at community facilities like parks and libraries so that Wi-Fi access points can be installed where they are needed. The immediate benefit to citizens is that each county park and library has public Wi-Fi access points, often in multiple locations throughout the facility. The use of this Wi-Fi at these locations is free and openly available to the public.
The Winfield Pavilion
Columbia County has constructed a prototype Community WiFi Pavilion on Cobbham Road, located next door to the historic Winfield Community Center. The purpose of the WiFi Pavilion is to provide access to WiFi in a rural area of the county in which there are no other parks or facilities where WiFi is readily available on a 24-hour basis. This facility, which features a covered shelter, charging stations, a ceiling fan, safety lighting, and four picnic tables (one of which is ADA-accessible), is accessible to anyone who needs to do homework, conduct e-commerce, attend a remote appointment, or download email. As a prototype, it is seen as an opportunity to provide a service to the county’s underserved areas.