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Drive-in WiFi hotspots installed

Wednesday - May 13, 2020 12:00pm

"cell phone connects to free wifi""equipment installing wireless hotspots"

(Left photo shows the screen on a phone connecting to a free hotspot; right photo shows work being done to install a hotspot at the Okanogan Armory.)

Okanogan County PUD’s new Dri-Fi (drive-in WiFi) hotspots are ready to serve Okanogan County students and families with a place to access schoolwork and connect with teachers.

Working with the schools throughout PUD territory, the district identified 15 locations based on broadband availability and the local need for additional access. The PUD has installed 13 of the sites, with two more to come soon from retail service providers. Updates on the sites’ progress and a map of each location are available on the Dri-Fi webpage.

The sites will remain in operation most likely through the summer, but could remain in place if still needed for school in the fall. Anyone can drive up to one of these points, utilizing existing parking lots to stop and stay in their car to follow social distancing guidelines. Users can then access the internet, download or upload needed schoolwork, etc., and then drive away when done. Each location has about a 300-foot range.

The sites are open access, so do not require a password. Users simply need to have their devices search for a wireless connection, and look for the name “OKPUD_FreeWifi.” Because it is an unsecured network, the district also advises that users exercise caution in sharing confidential material.

Signage will be placed at each location soon.

The district will be able to monitor how much usage each site gets and will consider additional sites if needed.

Active PUD locations are:

  •      Carlton – Old Carlton Road at 90-degree corner near Texas Creek Road
  •      Conconully – Sit-n-Bull parking lot, 308 N. Main St. 
  •      Crumbacher – On Crumbacher Road, between Ponderosa Drive and Oakes Drive
  •      Oroville – Substation parking lot, near soccer field, 12th Avenue
  •      Malott – Malott Improvement Club parking lot, 123 School St.
  •      Methow – End of the pavement, South Main Street
  •      Okanogan – Parking lot of Okanogan Armory, 71 Rodeo Trail
  •      Omak – Parking lot of Wenatchee Valley College N., 116 Apple Ave. W.
  •      Pateros – Across street from Pateros Garden Apartments, 249 Dawson St. S.
  •      Swanson Mill – Swanson Mill Fire Dept., 474 Swanson Mill Rd.
  •      Twisp – Twisp Fire Station parking lot, 234 W. 2nd Ave.
  •      Tonasket – Parking lot of Tonasket PUD office, 17 W. 3rd St.
  •      Brewster – Parking lot of Brewster Boys & Girls Club, 601 Cliff Ave. W.
  •      Loomis – Parking lot of Loomis Community Church, 13 Palmer Ave.