TEXAS CITY — Connecting to the Internet no longer means having to be stuck indoors in Texas City.
The city’s free public Wi-Fi hot spots are up and running at seven places in the city, most of which are outdoor parks.
There have been 14,000 connections to the city’s Wi-Fi since October, said City Secretary Nick Finan.
Laptop and smartphone users can log on at Carver Park, Garza Sports Complex, Godard Park, the Nessler Center, the Texas City Municipal Shooting Range, along Sixth Street and at Bay Street Park.
Other cities in Galveston County provide free Wi-Fi, but at a limited number of places. Galveston and League City have public, municipal Wi-Fi at city hall. As part of an agreement with the city of Galveston, AMPCO Parking Systems installed a public a Wi-Fi network downtown.
In Texas City, the free Wi-Fi project has been in the works for more than a year and came about thanks to city residents Kyle Dickson and Jason Delgado, Finan said.
The pair did the research and wrote the proposal for how the Wi-Fi system would work. The city then put the project out to bid and eventually selected Crystal Communications to put in the system, Finan said.
The city’s Economic Development Corp. put up the approximately $200,000 to get the project and running. Yearly operating costs will come out of the city coffers, he said. The city will pay about $225 a month for the data plan, Finan said.
He stressed that it was a low end, non-secured data plan, but it was a service that was free and easy to use.
All users have to do is type in their email address to log in. Finan said the city has no plan to sell those email addresses but may use them to send information about events in the city.
“It’s going very nicely,” Mayor Matt Doyle said. “We are still tuning, tweaking it, but it is very nice to have it.”
The response has been positive, Doyle said.
Under the Texas City system, the city could add more Wi-Fi hot spots in the future, Finan said. Doyle said he could also see expanding the range to include the area around Tanger Outlets and the coming Buc-ee’s along Interstate-45.
“We hope it is a great asset to the folks of the community and visitors,” Doyle said.