You can now get on the information superhighway by pulling off Iowa’s interstate highways. Six Iowa rest stops now have free wireless internet access available to travelers who pull over for a bathroom or rest break. Steve McMenamin oversees the rest areas for the Iowa Department of Transportation, and says the wireless hookups are a pilot project to guage public interest in a growing technology that keeps people connected. The wireless access is now available at the rest stops along I-35 just south of Osceola and I-80 near Davenport and Mitchellville. McMenamin says all you need is a computer or P-D-A set up to access the system. He says once you log on at any of the sites, you get a screen that pops up with the D-O-T webpage, info on the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Economic Development, along with weather info and amber alerts, then you can get internet access. McMenamin says the D-O-T doesn’t have to use state funds for the service. He says there’s no charge to them and no charge to the user. He says the I-Spot network is providing the service free for the chance to advertise to those who use it. McMenamin says it’s another service that goes along with the things already provided at the rest areas.He says its an opportunity for the state to get its message out while users can check their e-mail or look for directions. He says they’ll track the wireless usage for six months and see if there’s enough interest. He says they don’t even know if this is a service they should be providing, but it doesn’t cost the state anything to try it, and it gives the traveling public another service. McMenamin says nearly 17 million visitors stop at Iowa’s rest areas each year.
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