Microsoft announced Friday that it is providing a $150,000 strategic grant to the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce Foundation for the installation of free public Wi-Fi at the Cheyenne Depot.

"We've been talking with folks in the community about places where we can invest," said Paul Englis, Senior Program Manager for Communications Data Center Community Development at Microsoft.

"This seemed liked an easy project for us," he added. "It's a place for us to plant some seeds, start work in this area, do a pilot, see how the community receives it, see how it's used and then we can look at other projects from here."

"With farmer's markets and those types of activities down in that area, it will help get some commerce capabilities for merchants that want to do business in that area, even temporarily, that don't have that capability today," said Robert Sloan, Principal Program Manager for Broadband Data Center Community Development at Microsoft.

"And with the growth of the splash pad, there'll be more of a community center with the Depot Plaza," added Sloan.

Chamber Vice President Stephanie Joy Meisner-Maggard says they've sent out an RFP to potential vendors that can help with the actual infrastructure and installation of the public Wi-Fi, and hope to have someone identified by the end of the month.

"We look for construction to happen through the spring and then with the hope of launching in summer, hopefully before Frontier Days," said Englis.

"The program that we're doing the grant through within Microsoft has done this all around the nation, so it's not unique to just Cheyenne, it's just really an opportunity to pilot that type of program here in the community," said Meisner-Maggard.

"It potentially could result in more growth of public Wi-Fi all throughout Cheyenne, not exclusively just downtown," she added.

"Cheyenne is important to Microsoft," said Englis. "We have a data center here, we have a presence, and so we want to be a good neighbor, we want to be a part of the community and this is a way for us to invest in the community."

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