LOGAN, WV (WOWK) – Tractor Supply Company is establishing broadband hotspots at store parking lots across the Mountain State.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says the initiative is an immediate service to help those struggling with internet access amid the pandemic.
Tractor Supply Company says it has activated hotspots in 23 of its 28 West Virginia locations, and each offers speeds of up to 6 yo 50 megabytes per second. Consumers can use the hotspots from their vehicles, according to the company.
The Attorney General and company officials say the service is a short-term alternative for those who need internet access for school work, business, telemedicine appointments or to connect with family or friends.
“This is a true act of good corporate citizenship,” Morrisey said. “Broadband access is crucial for keeping pace in this ever-changing world. Tractor Supply’s actions will help many West Virginians who in the short term lack access to high-speed internet to excel in school, receive medical care and conduct business.”
Tractor Supply Company says it will provide the service during business hours, and those who want to access a hotspot need to visit a participating store’s parking lot, search for available Wi-Fi networks on their devices and accept the user agreement. The company says streaming will not be accessible at the hotspots.
“Now more than ever, our neighbors are facing broadband challenges, and Tractor Supply is there to help,” said Chris Vanfosson, Tractor Supply District Manager for West Virginia. “Providing free Wi-Fi at 23 Tractor Supply stores and counting in West Virginia is one of the ways we are trying to help school children, small business owners, farmers and those who need access to telemedicine.”
Participating stores include Tractor Supply Company’s locations in Beckley, Belle, Berkeley Springs, Bluefield, Buckhannon, Charles Town, Clarksburg, Elkins, Follansbee, Hurricane, Lavalette, Logan, Martinsburg, Moorefield, Morgantown, New Martinsville, Oak Hill, Parkersburg, Ripley, Romney, Summersville, Weston and Wheeling.
The company says upgrades are pending at the Glen Dale, Keyser, Kingwood, Ronceverte and Spencer locations.
According to Morrisey’s office, the project is part of the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition, which is a partnership between Tractor Supply Company, Microsoft, Land O’Lakes and more than 100 other organizations to expand high-speed internet infrastructure into rural America. Company officials say the parking lot project was developed in cooperation with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative.
Morrisey says anyone who uses public Wi-Fi should exercise routine precautions and avoid accessing bank records or conducting financial transactions on a public network, as well as avoid any unfamiliar links that may contain malware. He says to make sure any web address starts with https:// to verify the connection is secure.