No service: Fauquier Co. sets up temporary Wi-Fi hot spots in parking lots

warrenton parking lot
A temporary internet hot spot has been established in the Warrenton Park & Ride, as Fauquier County covers spotty internet coverage during the coronavirus crisis. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Fauquier County, Virginia, has established four temporary drive-up internet hot spots while the places many people usually visit to access WiFi are closed.

In the midst of the coronavirus crisis, users are asked to stay in their cars while using their computers and mobile devices.

Internet service in Virginia’s rural horse country is not always available, so with public libraries, schools and many businesses closed, local officials have scrambled to find ways for people to connect to the web, where service is spotty.

“The internet is crucial to the community, especially at this time,” Cedar Run District Supervisor Rick Gerhardt told WTOP.

“Although broadband is readily available in more densely populated areas, like Warrenton, much of Fauquier is underserved or unserved,” Gerhardt said. He said the board of supervisors has contracted with a wireless service provider to start service on existing cell towers, but full deployment is months away..

Gerhardt is encouraging people to stay in their cars and maintain social distancing while using the service.

Gerhardt said with the help of the PATH Foundation, four WiFi hot spots are now working, with four more to come later this week.

The PATH Foundation’s Amy Petty said the group provided $70,000 toward hot spot installation, as part of $610,000 in grant funding for Fauquier and Rappahannock counties since March 13. The investment came in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The hot spots listed below are currently in service:

  • Warrenton Park & Ride, at the intersections of Virginia Route 605 and U.S Route 29.
  • Midland Park & Ride, on Virginia Route 28.
  • Warrenton Water Tower parking lot, behind the U.S. Post Office.
  • The Warrenton-Fauquier Airport Terminal parking lot.

Later this week, temporary hot spots will be available at the following locations:

  • The Warrenton Aquatic and Recreation Facility (WARF)
  • Kettle Run High School, in Nokesville
  • Goldmine Park, in Goldvein
  • Orlean Fire Station

The WiFi at each hot spot is free, and not password-protected. At the Warrenton commuter lot location, WTOP verified the public network is listed as DataStream.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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