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By GCN Staff

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Iowa rocks the WiFi

One of our freelancers is driving across the county, from San Francisco to Washington D.C. I've done this trip a few times myself over the past two years and so I had plenty of advice for surviving I-80, probably the quickest way to traverse this big corn field that is the United States.

One item I was quick to point out was that all the rest stops in Iowa are outfitted with Wifi access, courtesy of the state's Department of Transportation and I-Spot Networks, a Des Moines-based wireless Internet management company.

If you have leftover work to catch up on, at least work that involves the Internet, you can do it in Iowa.

I know Municipal WiFi has been getting a bum reputation of late. Perhaps undeservedly so. In any case, I have to say I loved this service.

And it makes sense for the state, because it helps local business.

Now, especially out in the midwest, I-80 tends not to be a road for locals. It's for visitors, and antsy ones at that. In many states, especially the flatter ones, I-80 provides the speediest possible passage from one end of the state to the other.

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But every time I travel through Iowa I end spending lots of time in the state'simpleybecause of the WiFi access.

Invariably there is some piece of unfinished work I have, or some upcoming project I have to deal with before I get back on my vacation.

So the free WiFi is greatly appreciated, especially in a place as convenient and pleasant as that state's rest stops.

But Iowa is not merely being generous for its out-of-town visitors. Simply put, the longer I, and others, stay at a rest stop, the more likely I am to eat my next few meals in one of Iowa's fine dining establishments. Or spend the night in one of the hotels. Once I even got my truck repaired in Des Moines, thanks to a quick Internet check at 10 P.M. For repair shops.

For the costs of a few cheap access points and some connectivity, Iowa is, I bet, helping local business quite a bit'at least until the neighboring states get wind of the idea.


By now, though, most seasoned laptop-carrying but budget-conscious road warriors know that all but the very smallest of towns have some sort of Wifi.

I've edited a story in a North Platte, Nebraska Burger King. My connectivity cost only a few French Toast Sticks. The Motel 6 in Elko, Nevada offers free WiFi, though a handmade sign in the lobby will inform you that while you are welcome to access the Internet you should please refrain from downloading any pornography.

By the way, have you ever noticed that in nicer hotels'a Westin or Hyatt'Internet connectivity always costs extra, like $10 a day or thereabout, while at the economy hotels usually offers the service for free? At least as long as you don't download the dirty movies, that is.

Posted by Joab Jackson on Oct 30, 2007 at 9:39 AM


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