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South Bend seeking public input on new Open Wi-Fi locations

Peter Ringenberg

South Bend is expanding its free Open Wi-Fi network, and the city is taking nominations from the public on new locations.

Denise Linn Riedl, the city’s chief innovation officer, said the only requirement for a suggested location is that it must be open to the public.

“Think a waiting room in a small business that wants to be open to the public and provide a space for people to connect,” Linn Riedl said. “Think your favorite park in your neighborhood that doesn’t have South Bend Open Wi-Fi yet.”

A suggestion could also just be a street corner, to provide connection for people walking by or waiting for the bus.

The city currently has 50 Open Wi-Fi access points. The majority are located downtown, but there are several in River Park, along Western Avenue and at Leeper, Rum Village, Phillip St. Clair, LaSalle and Pinhook parks.

Linn Riedl said the city will be collecting suggestions for the next month-and-a-half.

“We really need resident input to make sure we’re installing these in places that are going to have an impact in our communities,” she said.

Then, the city will make determinations on what access points to add. Factors will include foot traffic, local rates of broadband adoption and amenities in the suggested location.

The new locations will be included in a city broadband plan published later this year.

Mayor James Mueller said internet access is vital for modern life — and the Open Wi-Fi network makes it available to all city residents.

“Access to the internet and access to digital opportunities is what makes an individual successful, and what makes the city successful,” Mueller said. “We need to make sure that access is felt across the city.”

Suggestions can be submitted online, or by calling 311. More information, including a map of current Open Wi-Fi locations, is available here.

Contact Jakob at or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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Jakob Lazzaro comes to Indiana from Chicago, where he graduated from Northwestern University in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and a double major in History. Before joining WVPE, he wrote NPR's Source of the Week e-mail newsletter, and previously worked for CalMatters, Pittsburgh's 90.5 WESA and North by Northwestern.