At a time when staying connected is more important than ever, the Grays Harbor PUD is teaming together with cities, schools and a large group of state and independent agencies to provide free access to the PUD fiber network. Using mobile hotspots, free Wi-Fi access will be provided at strategic points around Grays Harbor County. Users can simply drive-up or walk-up to the sites and immediately have online access for business, school and a host of other needs.
“Today more than ever, internet access is a critical part of our lives and a way to keep connected to family, schools and businesses. However not everyone has the same level of access, especially in rural Washington. Mobile sites like these will help to change that,” said PUD Core Services Director Rob Hanny, whose office oversees the PUD Telecommunications Department.
As of today, three drive-up sites have been agreed upon in Grays Harbor: McCleary City Hall, the Wishkah Valley School, and the Satsop School and should be active by early this week. The PUD is working with other communities and organizations around the county to bring more sites online. Equipment for the sites has been provided to the utility free of charge by the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center, a private, industry funded disaster relief organization.
The local access is part of a larger, statewide effort to provide free Wi-Fi access to Washington residents. Partners in the state’s drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots project include: Washington State University; Washington State Library, part of the Washington Office of the Secretary of State; members of the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA) and affiliated nonprofit Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet); the Washington State Broadband Office; Washington Independent Telecommunications Association (WITA); Washington Technology Solutions (WaTech); and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
To date, 140 of the new drive-in hotspots are operational, in addition to 301 existing Washington State Library hotspots identified across the state. All told, some 600 public hotspots will soon be available to keep Washington communities connected.
For complete information and a map of locations, visit www.driveinwifi.wa.gov. The map will be updated as more sites come online.