Aiken residents and visitors will be just a finger touch away from free Wi-Fi Internet service in the downtown area beginning this summer.


As part of Atlantic Broadband’s $4.5 million “FastForward Aiken” initiative, the company announced on Monday it will be providing public access to free Wi-Fi service in and around Aiken’s downtown area in July, according to a press release.


“By providing free Wi-Fi to our city and the downtown area, Atlantic Broadband is answering a need that residents have brought to our attention, and we thank them for that,” Mayor Fred Cavanaugh said. “Bringing fast Wi-Fi Internet access free of charge to our community is a huge benefit for residents, visitors and businesses. In a time when being connected is an integral part of communication and economic success, we’re thrilled by Atlantic Broadband’s commitment to ensuring the vitality of Aiken, and it’s support of the city’s continued move toward innovation and progress.”


Integrating free Internet service throughout the downtown area was an initiative both the Aiken Young Professionals and the Aiken Downtown Development Association presented during City Council’s annual Horizons Retreat meeting earlier this year.


The free Wi-Fi service is expected to cover the area surrounded by Park Avenue, Barnwell, Greenville and York streets. About 200 businesses will be able to offer the Wi-Fi service speeds up to 5 Mbps within this specific perimeter.


Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.