The County is pleased to announce that outdoor wireless broadband has been launched in the downtown governmental/university campus area. This is an important project in keeping with the Broward County Commission Strategic Workplan Goal #6 – “Ensure the consistent, strategic placement of knowledge and services infrastructure throughout Broward County.” This project provides exciting opportunities to boost the County’s educational, social and economic advancement in technology.
The wireless broadband service, commonly known as “WiFi,” will offer downtown library users, university students, County employees and the general public free outdoor access to the Internet to retrieve e-mail, perform research, or surf the Web without being connected to network cables. The network, BC-Public, was designed to be scalable for future expansion and was built by County staff from the Office of Information Technology and Traffic Engineering Division, with assistance from the Facilities Management Division. The total cost of the project was $79,000, with recurring costs at $100 per month. Now that the base antenna system has been established, new antennas or extensions of existing antennas can be easily added. The antennas can bring new hotspot service areas which expands the original service footprint.
The high density of diverse users in the downtown area was the key reason for the locations of the pilot project. The initiative provides ubiquitous connectivity anywhere, anytime. Students from the BCC and FAU campus have the ability to step away from the classroom setting while staying connected online for e-mails and research and enjoy outdoor vistas such as Bubier Park and Las Olas Boulevard. Library patrons will have similar experiences with Internet connections available adjacent to the Downtown Main Library in Stranahan Park. Local residents and visitors can stay “connected” with home and work while visiting two of Broward County’s key tourism areas – Las Olas Boulevard and the Old Himmarshee area of Fort Lauderdale.
The primary service area of the outdoor WiFi wireless network identified as “BC Public” includes Stranahan Park adjacent to the Main Library Branch, along Southwest 2nd Street from the Broward County Governmental Center through the Old Himmarshee area, and Las Olas Boulevard, beginning at Andrews Avenue and continuing east to approximately Southeast 10th Avenue. Within the Governmental Center, BC Public is accessible from several convenient locations:
- County Commission Chambers (Room 422), meeting room 430 and the seating area outside fourth floor elevators
- Third floor cafeteria
- First floor lobby
Connecting to Broward County’s Downtown Wireless Network
Calls for assistance regarding access to WiFi hot spots will be handled by the Broward County Call Center at 954-831-4000.
Broward County is very excited to introduce free access to our Downtown Wireless Network. The steps below will guide you through the log-on process of connecting to the network.
Please note, there are various ways of connecting to a wireless network. The below procedures illustrates only one of those methods.
1. Right click on the Wireless Network Connect icon to connect to Broward County’s Downtown Wireless Network.
2. Click on BC Public, and then click on the Connect button.
3. Click on the Connect Anyway button.
4. Launch your Web Browser to access to the web.
5. Review the Broward County WiFi Terms and Conditions of Use by utilizing the scroll bar.
6. Click on the I Agree button to accept the terms conditions.
7. Pause, while the network connects to your default home page.
8. Congratulations! You have successfully connected to the web using Broward County’s Downtown Wireless Network.
Frequently Asked Question About WiFi
Q - What is WiFi?
A - WiFi, or Wireless Fidelity, is a wireless technology of small antennas that uses specific frequencies or signals that is received by laptop computers or PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). Both the laptop and PDA must have a wireless card that is used to pick up the WiFi frequency. If your laptop or PDA does not have a built-in wireless card, they are readily available for purchase and cost $35 - $100. Generally, the most common usage of WiFi technology is for laptop users to gain Internet access in locations such as airports, coffee shops, etc., where the technology can be used to help consumers in their pursuit of work-based, study, or recreational Internet usage. A WiFi service area is commonly called a “hot spot”.
Q - What is the name of the service?
A - The name of Broward County’s pilot for free outdoor access to wireless broadband service is “BC Public.”
Q - Where is the service located?
A - There are multiple service areas or hotspots in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. The service areas include the Governmental Center which includes the 4th floor common areas such as the County Commission Chamber, 3rd floor cafeteria and the 1st floor lobby. Additional service areas are available outdoors in Stranahan Park adjacent to the Main Library Branch, on SW Second Street from the Broward County Governmental Center through the Old Himmarshee area and the BCC/FAU campus on Las Olas Boulevard starting at Andrews Avenue and continuing east to approximately Southeast 10th Avenue. A map identifying the downtown service areas of the pilot WiFi project is available.
Q - Is there a charge for the service?
A - No. It is a free service provided by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners.
Q - What do I need to do to access the wireless network?
A - A laptop or PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) with wireless 802.11 b and/or g network card
Q - What would this service do for me?
A - Provide Internet access in order to retrieve e-mail, perform research, or surf the web without being connected to restrictive network cables.
Q - If I don’t have a wireless card for my laptop, what type of card do I need, where can I purchase Broward County WiFi and the Downtown Hot Spots one and how much do they cost?
A - You will need an 802.11 b/g, or dual band wireless card for your particular device. They can be purchased at many computer or electronics stores.
Q - Can I receive the WiFi service inside a building within the service area?
A - It depends on the building. In some cases it may be possible; however, it was not designed to provide access inside the buildings with the exception of the Government Center.
Q - Will I need any special settings or passwords to connect to the service?
A- No special settings, user names or passwords are required.
Q - Is this service secure?
A - No. It is open Internet access. Please keep this in mind if you are accessing sensitive business or personal information.
Q - What can I do to protect my laptop while using the wireless service?
A - We always recommend that you install a personal firewall and anti-virus software on your laptop.
Q - What is the download speed for this service?
A - Depending on number of simultaneous users, the download speed is 3Mbps.
Q - If I need help accessing the service for the first time, whom should I call?
A - Broward County’s Call Center staff can step you through the brief instructions for accessing the wireless service. You can reach them at 954-831-4000.
Q - I own a business and currently have WiFi service inside my business. Will BC Public interfere with my existing service?
A - If both services operate using the same frequency or channel there may be some interference, thus reducing some of the download speed. However, the service should still work.
Q - What if I don’t select “I Agree” after the Terms and Use Agreement located on the opening page of the service?