Texas Internet HotSpots (WiFi) Proposed by TxDoT

Heard this on the local news tonight here in DFW. This is outstanding news for chasers and travelers alike! Here is the scoop:


Actual Link to Texas Department of Transportation Story:

http://www.dot.state.tx.us/txdotnews/026-2004.htm


TEXT to the story:


STATEWIDE INTERNET 'HOTSPOTS' PROPOSED BY THE TEXAS
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 26, 2004

AUSTIN - Texas is the first state in the nation to provide free wireless Internet access at its safety rest areas, the Texas Department of Transportation announced today.

TxDOT began experimenting with wireless Internet service last fall, when the department provided the capability at twin rest areas on U.S. 287 in Donley County. Free wireless service also is available at two rest areas on the same highway in Hardeman County.

“The feedback we’ve received so far has been very positive,†said Andy Keith, Safety Rest Area Program Manager for TxDOT’s Maintenance Division. “Texas’ highways are seeing an increasing number of business travelers, truckers and RVers and access to email is important to them. They have really responded favorably to our four ‘hot spots’ on U.S. 287.â€

TxDOT has taken the first step to expand the service to all of its 84 safety rest areas and 12 Travel Information Centers by issuing a request for offer seeking vendors able to provide free wireless Internet service and pay telephone-like Internet access at kiosks.

Keith said he envisions computers in the kiosks being available in 15 minute increments by swiping a credit card through a reader. But wireless access will be free for anyone with their own equipment.

“Over 50 million people a year visit our rest areas,†Keith said. “When we get this program up and running, anyone with wireless equipped laptops or other devices will be able to send email or browse the Internet for free at our safety rest areas and travel information centers. People not traveling with wireless equipment will be able to connect to the Internet at kiosks for a reasonable fee to be collected by the vendor.â€

“We think this will be a huge win-win for Texas’ travelers,†Keith said. “Knowing free Internet service is available at our rest areas will get drivers to make regular stops. Since fatigue is a factor in 1.5 percent of all crashes, anything we can do to get people to pull off the road and take a break is going to make our highways safer.â€

An estimated 1,500 people die in fatigue-related crashes each year in the United States, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics. An additional 77,000 are injured.

Any firm in the business of providing wireless Internet service has until 3 p.m. June 25 to make an offer to TxDOT for evaluation. TxDOT will then review the offers and award a contract. Interested vendors can find more information about this by downloading the request for offer or by calling (512) 374-5444.

“The safety rest areas are there to make the roadways safer for today’s traveling public,†Keith said. “Wireless Internet access meets the modern traveler’s needs so we want this to happen as quickly as possible.â€


For more information, call Mark Cross, TxDOT Public Information Office, (512) 463-8585.
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I have been by those rest stops I dont know how many times this year. I wish I would have known they had wireless. This is a great idea and I am glad Texas is leading the way. I invision in a few years that we will have wireless along every interstate and someday coverage will be as good as cell phones.
 
Very good news indeed Tom! I am sure this will be a tremendous help to you folks.
 
Tom - first of all, haven't talked to you in forever - hope you're doing well these days ...

And this is awesome - I hope every state does this. I am just waiting for the day the internet is easy to come by on the road.
 
YES YES YES YES YES!!! And to think, I camp out at rest stops! WOO HOO! A mobile hotel w/ WiFi; all for pennies if that! :D
 
I had heard McD's was replanning their strategy after the release in several cities went sour when several people were caught looking at questionable websites in the fast food joint ;p

Aaron
 
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