A local utility company has installed free public wi-fi hotspots in two Morgan County towns. Illinois Electric Cooperative installed hot spots for students in Murrayville and Woodson to help them connect to their e-learning objectives in Jacksonville School District 117. General Manager of IEC, Randy Long, says it’s all about getting students what they need during this chaotic time for schools. “Actually, District 117 had approached us and said there was a need. Of course, the district is doing schooling online for the most part right now. Some of the students don’t have Internet access. District 117 has a Chromebook program so they are able to put a device in their students hands. All they need is the access. We saw that we had the opportunity to help them out. We are more than happy to do that for them.”
Long says they are currently in talks with Franklin School District and other areas they serve. IEC currently serves in Morgan, Pike, Scott, Greene, and Calhoun, with a few members located in outlying regions of Adams, Brown, Cass, Jersey, and Macoupin counties. They currently provided Internet to about 14,000 accounts across the region.
Long says the service is absolute free. “We are going to install the service for free. The service is free. Once the school year is complete, we will look into the idea of keeping the hotspots in place or whether maybe the villages would like to retain that service for a reasonable fee. We’ll look at all of that moving forward.”
Long says there are no passwords attached to the hotspot. He says it operates like most public wi-fi hotspots around the country. Users have to click on approval terms and conditions of a user agreement before they can use the service. He says that certain content is blocked but speeds are optimal for e-learning usage. “The speeds are 25mbps download and 3mbps upload for most of them, which would be sufficient for any online studies. You wouldn’t be logged into it to stream Netflix and things like that, but that is not what it’s intended for.”
The hotspots are located in the Woodson and Murrayville community parks. Users are asked to remain in a car or to practice physical distancing while working at the hotspot.