I Spot ACCESS is an Iowa company that is currently working with the state of Iowa to set up free wireless hotspots at all of the states highway rest areas. An article in today’s Des Moines Register points to increased tourism and spending in local communities as a benefit of the new service.
The wireless hot spots are now available at rest stops near Mitchellville and Davenport on Interstate Highway 80, and near Osceola on Interstate Highway 35, Iowa Department of Transportation officials said. A similar service will begin soon at rest areas near Adair on I-80. After a six-month trial, access may expand to 40 rest areas statewide, officials said.
I Spot ACCESS isn’t charging the state or users for the service. Their business model is built on advertising for local businesses and directing traffic to a page of ads and local information when users access the network. Considering the large amount of traffic that uses I-80 I can see this succeeding. Having lived most of my life there, I don’t need much of an excuse to visit Iowa, but now I have another reason to stop a few times on my way home.
Beyond rest areas, I think free wifi hotspots belong in every mall food court. Provide an inexpensive reason for people to walk in the mall and chances are they will probably drop a few bucks. If nothing else, it gives dad something to do while mom and the kids shop.