Call it the polar vortex, an arctic blast, or just call it winter. Whatever its name, the recent spate of cold weather has been making a lot of headlines, and it’s made it tough to work on our Wi-Fi zone installations. When the temperatures are in the negatives, cable casings get brittle, and fingers get stiff.
Still, our valiant installation team has persevered, and we have a number of new Wi-Fi zones and hotspots across the state to show for it.
When driving along Route 100, cell service is not a given. In fact, it currently drops off completely by the time you find yourself in Stockbridge. By adding an outdoor Access Point to the town offices, which are located along this busy road, we’ve given both locals and people traveling through the opportunity to stay connected, for free, via a public Wi-Fi hotspot.
Further down the same road is Killington. The Killington Chamber of Commerce recently moved into new headquarters at a big red barn on the intersection of Routes 100 and 4, and they are working to transform this renovated historic space into a Vermont Tourist Information Center.
“Thanks to the Vermont Digital Economy Project, we are now able to provide easy, free Wi-Fi access complimentary to visitors to our new Welcome Center in Killington” said Amy Morrison, Killington Chamber Director, “In addition to improving our service to guests, the project will connect tourists with local businesses, which supports our tourism based economy.”
By helping the Chamber to offer a free and public Wi-Fi area that extends beyond the building itself, into the parking lot and across the street, we are glad to be able to help increase the building’s usefulness and appeal.
From Killington, you can take Route 4 west through Rutland and into a small town called Fair Haven that boasts a large and beautiful town green. As the town works to revitalize its downtown area, we have helped it leverage its open spaces by turning the southern end of the green and the surrounding business area into a Wi-Fi zone.
"Fair Haven is extremely pleased with the Vermont Digital Economy Project -- not only for a grant award but, also, its technical assistance -- to bring on-line a public Wi-Fi zone connecting Fair Haven's downtown with its town green,” wrote the Town Manager, Herbert Durfee, “We're pleased to improve the town's digital infrastructure for the benefit of our residents, businesses, and visitors!"
Travel south from Fair Haven and you will reach another small town, called Middletown Springs. This town has gigabit Internet connections thanks to VTel, but currently there is no cell phone service in the town center. Thanks to our project, we have been able to create a hotspot covering the town’s general store, as well as the local town green.
"Middletown Springs is grateful to the VCRD for its grant that covers two Wi-Fi Access Points making our town green accessible to those who live here and those 'from away,'" wrote Nora Rubinstein, a member of the town's Building Committee. "One of these Access Points will eventually be hooked up to our new town office in a building that is in the design phase, but for now, connected to our current town office and our General Store, the Wi-Fi zone opens the door for all of us to the best that the Internet can offer. It will make us more resilient as a community when we can respond to emergencies and disseminate needed information quickly and clearly, and in daily use, it will help children access school work when their families cannot afford Internet access in their own homes, and connect us all to needed information about the broader world. Connecting us to the web makes us stronger as a community and as citizens."
Our consultant, Justin McCoart, owner of Up and Running Computer Services, sees true value in this statewide project. “This project is helping people across the state stay connected,” he notes, “People are using these networks for everything from anti-virus updates to connecting with each other through avenues like Facebook. It’s allowing people to stay connected in the state, and it’s working very well.”
By working with members of each of these towns, we’ve come to understand the importance of this project from each community’s unique perspective. Our underlying reasons for installing these free Wi-Fi areas include everything from economic development to increasing access, and our conversations with town managers, business owners, and town residents have demonstrated to us the importance of this project in addressing each town’s individual needs. In order to stay competitive in today’s world, Vermonters need access to the Internet. Installing free and public Wi-Fi zones throughout the state is just one small way that we are helping.
“It’s an opportunity to work with some of the most talented and forward-thinking people in the state, and that’s the truth,” said Justin.
You can find more information on our Wi-Fi Zones and Hotspots here.