Families of school children have now been loaned Chromebooks for remote learning. Chromebooks require internet access.

A team of people from the public libraries, public schools, cities, university and assorted technology groups would like to publicize this short list of open access points, with the following reminders:

  1. Please remember that you are being provided with WiFi access as a guest and will likely have to agree to the given entity’s acceptable use policy.
  2. Please be considerate of others using this access. Do not download excessive content and limit your use to school-work related matters.
  3. To maintain proper social distancing guidelines, please remain in your vehicle as you access the WiFi hotspots. 
  4. If individuals fail to maintain proper social distancing guidelines and congregate near the access points outside of their vehicles, sites may be taken down without notice in order to ensure public safety. Please do not jeopardize these opportunities for others.
  5. Conditions may necessitate changes without notice.
  6. Use your best judgment and please be aware of your surroundings when using a drive-up WiFi hotspot. Avoid using hot spots at night.

Connect Illinois will be posting a map with other access points on this site.

Temporary fixed hotspots:

  • Blair Park: 1406 S. Broadway Ave., Urbana, IL. Volo provides free WiFi in the park
  • E-14 Parking LotL First & Kirby, Champaign, IL (NW corner of E-14 lot has best coverage).
  • Champaign Public Library Parking Lot: 200 W. Green St., Champaign, IL 61820 Connect to WiFi "Champaign_Public_Library"
  • Champaign Public Library - Douglass Branch Parking Lot: 504 E. Grove St., Champaign, IL 61820 Connect to WiFi "Champaign_Public_Library"
  • Urbana Free Library Parking Lot: 210 W. Green St., Urbana, IL 61801 Connect to WiFi "Urbana Free library"

NOTE:

  • The more people access the wifi the more its strength diminishes.
  • No more than 20-30 users at a time is best.
  • The radius of the signal from the hotspot is about 30 feet.
  • As these sites are used, if it seems that more options are needed, several UI shuttle buses with on-board wifi can be deployed, parked in a designated spot, and the wifi used at a distance.

Related:

  • Comcast/Xfinity has made its mobile hotspots temporarily open for everyone to access. Here’s a map of what areas those cover
  • Comcast is providing low-income families with two months free of Wi-Fi through their Internet Essentials program if you apply before April 30th. You qualify if you are eligible for certain public assistance programs. For more info here.
  • AT&T offers low-cost internet for $5-$10 per month if you are on SNAP benefits. More info here.
  • Low income families can sign up for Lifeline which will provide free (unlimited during the crisis) phone access.  

IMAGE: Screenshot of Google Maps centered on Campustown between Urbana and Champaign. There are flags indicating wifi hotspots. Photo provided by Sharon Irish.
Photo provided by Sharon Irish.

Sharon Irish (slirish AT Illinois DOT edu) will try and stay up to date on further developments if there are questions.

Top photo provided by Sharon Irish.