Iowa’s apparently the first state in the nation to provide wireless high-speed internet access to travelers at every Interstate rest area in the state. Steve McMenamin is a D-O-T engineer who’s overseen the new service, step by step. They began with a pilot project at 8 sites around Iowa. “We didn’t even know if this was a service anybody wanted to use,” he says, but it wasn’t going to cost the state anything so it seemed like a good idea to test it. After a trial period of around seven months, usage surveys showed there was indeed interest. The agency decided not only would it be a service people would use, it would give the D-O-T a way to get out its own information. McMenamin says when a traveler with a portable laptop computer signs on, the’ll be greeted by a menu DOT information. The first web page that comes up will be one designed by the DOT, and will have links on it to the transportation agency’s website as well as the Department of Economic Development, Public Safety, weather alerts, Amber Alerts, and road construction, things people want to know when they’re traveling. The service is free to the state, and for 30 minutes free to the user. He says it looks like Iowa’s the first in the country to have all the full-service rest areas offering the wi-fi service. A private company called “i-spot” installed and set up the wireless service, and it’s not costing the state anything. After the travel and safety information, if the traveler clicks on a link to sign on to the internet, the next page they’ll reach is advertising. McMenamin says the payoff for the service provider is allowing them to sell ads to local businesses that want to reach those travelers at the next exit.
You are here: / / State now offers wireless internet access at all rest stops