While we’ve focused here on a few of the Wi-Fi pioneers in our neck of the woods, this is just a small corner of the Big Picture that’s getting bigger in our state every day.
Currently, most public and private universities in Arkansas have ongoing programs to hook their students and faculty up to the wireless world. The same is true of many mid-sized and larger corporations in the state.
While those systems are mostly closed to the general public, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when looking to Wi-Fi away from home. Though some providers are moving toward pay-for-play, where Wi-Fi can be had in Arkansas, the majority of access is still free. Three branches of the Central Arkansas Library System (the Main library downtown, McMath Library on John Barrow Road; and Thompson Library in West Little Rock) offer free wireless access to patrons. And, seeing the benefits to having Wi-Fi’ers hanging around and maybe purchasing something before they leave, most high-end coffee shops (like Sufficient Grounds in the Heights, and Java Roasting Company on Chenal Parkway), some restaurants (including six McDonald’s restaurants in North Little Rock, which charge $2.95 for two hours of Wi-Fi access) and even a few outdoor areas (like the River Market in downtown Little Rock, and Berryhill Park in Searcy) have loaded onto the Wi-Fi bandwagon.
Too, thanks to the desire to draw in tech-savvy businessfolk, many hotels and motels feature free Wi-Fi access these days, from the Peabody Hotel downtown to freeway side cheapies like Super 8 and Motel 6. And as many of our experts pointed out, you can always wheel into the parking lot of a hotel, flip on your Wi-Fi equipped laptop, and surf to your heart’s content on the fringes of their free Wi-Fi cloud. They’ll leave the light on for you.
For a searchable lists of restaurants, hotels and public spaces providing free and for-pay Wi-Fi hotspots in Arkansas, go to www.wififreespot.com, www.wifi411.com, and www.wifimaps.com.