Manitou Springs is about to become a Wi-Fi hotspot.
The Business Improvement District and newly-formed iManitou have contracted with Wi-Fi provider OnTheGetGo and will test hardware this week. If all goes well, people on the streets of central Manitou will be able to log on from their cars, sidewalk benches or restaurant tables by Saturday, said Susan Wolbrueck, a volunteer with the business improvement district.
It will be the only free community Wi-Fi hotspot in the Colorado Springs area and will cover the business improvement district of Manitou, which includes about 100 small businesses. The Wi-Fi coverage will start at the the Stagecoach Inn on the east end of Manitou Avenue to the Mate Factory at the western edge of Manitou Avenue, up Ruxton Avenue to Hell’s Kitchen Pizza and along Cañon Road to the Cliff House, Wolbrueck said.
“It’s really designed to provide Wi-Fi for people on the street,” Wolbrueck said. “So if you’re in the back of a shop it might not work.”
Why Wi-Fi? The log-in page allows local businesses to advertise specials and blog about up-to-the-minute deals in their stores – to people who might be standing just a few feet away.
“The benefit to this is that the business owners aren’t trying to get people to come to Manitou and go their stores,” she said. “They’re not thinking about coming. They’re here now.”
The business district was able to get the Wi-Fi installed using a webbing so they wouldn’t have to place unsightly antennas on the roofs of buildings.
Only a few other places in Colorado offer free Wi-Fi. The new Southglenn Shops in Centennial, just south of Denver is another location, and the 16th Street Mall in Denver also has Wi-Fi, but hasn’t always been able to offer it for free.
The Colorado Springs downtown business development district was recently considering installing Wi-Fi, but has not made any new announcements about the idea’s progress in a couple months.
“In our research, we found that a lot of communities where Wi-Fi didn’t work, they tried to do too much,” Wolbrueck said. “They tried to include too large an area or they wanted the businesses to be able to get rid of their internet. It’s just too expensive.”
She said the areas that will most likely get Wi-Fi access first will be in the 700 and 800 blocks of Manitou Avenue. That’s near the Manitou Trading Post in the center of the town.