February 04, 2005

Wi-Fi on the Interstate

The Iowa Department of Transportation will equip the state's 40 roadside stops with wireless Web by July.

story link noted on kiosknews.org
February 4, 2005
Free wireless Internet access is coming to all of Iowa's interstate highway rest stops.

The Iowa Department of Transportation announced Thursday that wireless Internet access will be installed at all 40 of its rest areas. Twenty rest stops will be equipped by mid-March; the rest will be operating by July 1.

A pilot project launched last summer by I-Spot Access Networks of Des Moines was used 111,000 times over the past seven months at eight rest areas, said Mark Wheeler, I-Spot's chief executive officer.

The service is already at rest stops on Interstate Highway 80 near Davenport in eastern Iowa, Mitchellville in central Iowa, and Adair in western Iowa. It's also at rest areas on Interstate Highway 35 near Osceola in southern Iowa.

"I think this is a step in the right direction," said George Arvidson of Des Moines, a director of the Central Iowa Computer User Group. "For the traveler, this should be something that will be very handy."

I-Spot Access Networks has been awarded a three-year state contract to provide the service. The wireless access will be available at no cost to state government or to travelers, said Steve McMenamin, the transportation department's rest area administrator.

I-Spot plans to make a profit by selling advertising that will seen by computer users, who will have 30 minutes of free Internet service per visit. The company also intends to offer premium services for a fee to business travelers, Wheeler said. Iowa's rest stops attract 18 million travelers annually.

Users will need a wireless-enabled notebook computer or a handheld computer. They must register and obtain a password. Each rest area also will have an Internet kiosk to allow people traveling without computers to obtain limited information about highway and weather conditions and local hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions, Wheeler said.

Posted by Craig at February 4, 2005 04:42 PM