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Montgomery County begins installation of ‘WOW Carts’, internet hotspots

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 1:55 AM EDT
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) -Montgomery County has taken its first step to expand broadband access to people who have little or no ability to connect.

Nestled on the front lawn of the Longshop McCoy Fire and Rescue department sits a new WIFI hotspot.

“I don’t think they understand that sometimes we just don’t get service,” said Blacksburg High School sophomore Lilly Barnett. “One day it might work and then the next day you could be going in the same spot and it just won’t work.”

Lilly said she sometimes struggles to log into her virtual classroom and to turn in her work because the internet is so spotty out in the county.

“Sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it’s okay and it just depends, and I feel like when so many people are on it, it makes it tough,” said Lilly’s mother, Jennifer Barnett.

Jennifer said she may have to contact Lilly’s teachers on those days where the internet is just not working right.

“It was difficult right in the beginning when school started because I feel like everyone was on the internet at the same time,” Jennifer said.

Monday, the county installed the first Wireless on Wheels, or WOW Cart, to help.

In order to connect to the WOW Cart, you need to park at the fire and rescue station station and select the Montgomery County WIFI. Do what you need to get done and that’s it.

“You come here and it loads really fast, faster than it normally would, and you wouldn’t have to deal with the turning it in late or it not loading,” Lilly said.

The county said four more WOW Carts should be installed in the next week. Eventually there will be 20 throughout the county to help the nearly 6,000 households underserved.

“At least we know we have a place that if we run out here, we can run out here because we’re not that far,” Jennifer said.

The county has partnered with GigaBeam to create a more permanent fix at people’s homes in the coming year.

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