The Iowa Department of Transportation is planning to expand the availability of free wireless internet access at the state’s rest stops. Steve McMenamin oversees the rest stops for the D-O-T and says they’ve been testing the free wireless access at six rest stops. He says they just wrapped up the pilot project in January and says they believe it’s a worthwhile service. McMenamin says they set up the free wireless access into three pages. The first page provided tourist, weather and safety information. He says in the seven month period, there were over 111-thousands hits on the first page, the second page — which gives additional information on food and lodging — there were over 25-thousand hits, and the third page that lets you sign up for a free internet pass, there were over 10-thousand hits. He says those numbers were enough to convince them to spread the wireless access to all of the state’s rest stops. He says they want wireless access at all 40 sites by July of this year. He says phase two of the project will install kiosks that allow access that doesn’t require a wireless card or computer. He says the kiosks will provide the tourist, weather and safety information, but won’t allow the users to surf the web or check their e-mail. McMenamin says the same company that provided the access for the pilot project was chosen to provide the service to all of the other rest stops. He says the arrangement provides initial access without any fee and it doesn’t cost the state anything either. He says users get a free internet pass and 30 minutes of free internet time at no charge. He says there may be a charge to go to certain sites and if the user wants additional internet time, the vendor would charge them. McMenamin says about half of the sites should be ready for wireless use by mid-March, and the remainder ready by July.
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