Free Wi-Fi Internet service in downtown Aiken is now accessible with just a touch of a finger.

With the help of Aiken City leaders, Atlantic Broadband's Vice President and General Manager Sam McGill announced, effective Wednesday, that residents and visitors can pull out their smartphones and laptops to access the free service.

By clicking on “Aiken Free Wifi” through the wireless navigation option on an electronic device, residents and visitors can easily access the Internet.

The announcement is part of Atlantic Broadband's $4.5 million FastForward Aiken initiative, and was created through a collaborative effort of both Atlantic Broadband and the City of Aiken.

McGill said bringing free Internet access to the downtown Aiken area was an initiative on the company's radar for quite a while.

“It became part of our FastForward initiative in our 2014 budget year ... but certainly after the Aiken Young Professionals brought it to the City Council's attention,” McGill said. “It kind of sped up our plans and desire to bring it to the downtown Aiken area, as well.”

Aiken Young Professionals urged Council during its annual Horizons Retreat this year to consider offering Internet downtown to draw in the younger demographic.

Both Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh and Aiken Downtown Development Association Executive Director Avery Spears-Mahoney agreed the free service will keep all age groups in the downtown area, whether they're eating, hanging out or shopping.

“This is just another aspect of getting folks down here and helping them stay connected while they are in our downtown district,” Spears-Mahoney said. “I recently met with some USC Aiken students about what they would like to see downtown, and this Wi-Fi was mentioned as something to help them, encourage them to come downtown.”

The service is phase one of future endeavors for Atlantic Broadband for possible expansion beyond its current perimeter, according to McGill.

The Wi-Fi service will cover the downtown Aiken perimeter along Laurens and Newberry streets between Barnwell and Park avenues. Businesses will be able to offer Wi-Fi service speeds up to 5 Mbps within the specific perimeter.

Signal strength may depend on location and structural interference, according to Atlantic Broadband.

“I thank Atlantic Broadband for this,” Cavanaugh said. “With Atlantic Broadband, and to me, it's a beginning of wonderful things to happen.”

Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree with the University of North Carolina Asheville. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.