Free wi-fi spreading to rest areas

Published October, 27 2004

Texas will become the latest state to offer free wi-fi at rest areas, charging for use only in excess of two hours.

The state’s transportation department signed with a vendor to provide wireless computer access at its 102 rest areas, with installation expected to be complete by October 2005. The service will be available on U.S. 90 near Hondo and on Interstate 10 near Columbus by December, TDOT stated Oct. 13.

In September, Michigan announced plans to bring wi-fi to rest areas, its 10 state parks and welcome centers. The state is offering free access this year to Michigan.gov, the Michigan state government Web site, and next year to Michigan.org, a state-sponsored site promoting tourism, jobs and industry.

Otherwise, the service at Michigan recreational areas will cost $7.95 for a 24-hour session and $19.95 for unlimited access.

In June, Iowa equipped six rest areas with free wi-fi as part of a six-month feasibility project. In Wisconsin, the rest area near Kenosha on Interstate 94 offers free wi-fi.

In addition to rest areas and truck stops, many public libraries offer wi-fi access. So do many college and university libraries, though most restrict usage to students, faculty and staff.

Restaurant and retail chains that offer free wi-fi access include:

  • Apple Computer’s Apple Stores nationwide.
  • Atlanta Bread Company: about 40 of the cafe chain’s locations from Colorado to New Jersey. A list is at http://www.atlantabread.com/wifi/.
  • Krystal: 50 of the fast-food chain’s locations from Texas to Florida. A list is at http://www.krystal.com/about/WiFi_locations.asp.

  • Panera Bread Company/St.Louis Bread Company: 400 cafes nationwide. Look for the Wi-Fi sticker in the window.
  • Port City Java: all the chain’s 30 locations from Texas to New Jersey.

  • Schlotzsky’s Cool Cloud network: 40 of the deli chain’s locations from Arizona to the District of Columbia. A list is at http://www.schlotzskys.com/wireless.html.

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