Thursday, June 20, 2024

Extension office offers free drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots

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OKANOGAN – A free drive-in Wi-Fi hotspot is installed and operating at the WSU Okanogan County Extension office at 1234 Second Ave. S., in Okanogan, thanks to the combined efforts of public and private enterprise.

The Okanogan site is one of 15 locations around the state that is offering the temporary free service in response to the COVID-19 restrictions. Other hotspots are being installed at locations in Asotin, Clallam, Ferry, Garfield, Grant, Grays Harbor, Island, Pend Oreille, Pierce, Skamania, Stevens, Wahkiakum, and Yakima counties.

There is a specific emphasis on student access but (the service) is available to all residents,” a WSU Okanogan County Extension media release said. “In addition to access for remote learning, it can be used for job searches, telehealth, telework, unemployment filing, census participation and other uses.”

The anticipated hotspot coverage area around the access point is 1,000-2,000 feet in diameter and includes network security protocols.

When you log on you will be asked to identify your uses such as education, telehealth, job search or government services,” said Kayla Wells, WSU Okanogan County Extension Director. “This information will help determine the important reasons we need to increase broadband availability to homes and businesses in our area.”

Microsoft donated the equipment for the project in and collaboration with WSU Extension, the state library, state broadband office and office of Secretary of State launched the first of a multi-phase program to broaden access to other locations across the state.

Phase Two of the drive-in hotspots plans for more installations at libraries, schools and similar locations around the state. The project’s third phase is dependent on funding and further areas of need. Site selection will focus on need including school free and reduced lunch programs data and areas of unserved access.

A state drive-in Wi-Fi hotspot locations map created in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and WaTech will be available online at driveinwifi.wa.gov. The map will be updated as new sites become available.

We are delighted to over this free internet access in our community,” said Wells. “COVID-19 has shown a light on how critical broadband is for our economy, educational needs and quality of life for all our residents.”

For questions or more information about the Okanogan County site, please contact:

Kayla Wells, WSU Okanogan County Extension Director, 509-422-7248 or kayla.wells@wsu.edu.

 

For questions or more information about the statewide hotspot project visit driveinwifi.wa.gov or contact:

Monica Babine, Washington State University Extension at babinem@wsu.edu, (206) 999-8032; Russ Elliott, Washington State Broadband Office at russ.elliott@commerce.wa.gov, (360) 725-4052; or Cindy Aden, Washington State Library, at cindy.aden@sos.wa.gov, (360) 819-7236.

 

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