The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Free Wi-Fi comes to Turnpike Service Plazas


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Turnpike travelers can get faster surfing speeds while relaxing inside plazas.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced today that free Wi-Fi service is now available at all operational service plazas. The amenity was added to accommodate Turnpike customers who want to use smartphones, tablets, laptops or other portable devices to access the internet while traveling.
Customers can access free Wi-Fi at the 15 operating service plazas; Wi-Fi will be available at the two plazas closed for construction, South Midway in Bedford County and Highspire in Dauphin County, when they reopen in May.
“We’re offering free Wi-Fi in collaboration with our service-plaza partners at HMSHost so customers can take a break from traveling to conduct business or just relax and surf the web,” said Jack Christensen, the Turnpike’s Director of Facilities and Energy Management Operations.
Bethesda, Md.-based HMSHost Corp. is rebuilding 17 plazas as part of a 30-year Public-Private Partnership with the Turnpike launched in 2006. HMSHost is investing $100 million to rebuild the plazas at its expense; it has reconstructed 12 of 17 facilities so far – with two more plazas coming online this spring.
“HMSHost is proud of our role in developing a new generation of travel plazas equipped with Wi-Fi that lets customers use their devices without having to worry about patchy coverage or exceeding data limits,” said Fred Fox, Senior Director of Motorway Operations for HMSHost.
The Wi-Fi service is accessible only from inside the plazas; users should select the name “HMSHost-WiFi,” when searching for available networks in their device settings. The service allows internet access via a dedicated, branded landing page where customers will log-in and freely browse the web, use social networks, or send and receive emails.
“Offering Wi-Fi fits nicely into our ongoing efforts to encourage motorists to reduce distractions and focus on driving behind the wheel,” said Craig Shuey, Chief Operating Officer of the Pa. Turnpike. “We launched our ‘Text-Free Turnpike’ initiative in 2010, and today, we’re providing a safer option than texting while driving. Now, motorists can pull off at a service plaza and take advantage of free Wi-Fi.”
For a complete listing of service plazas, including dining options and amenities, Pa. Turnpike travelers can download or print a free Service Plaza Guidebook online at www.paturnpike.com. Click the “Service Plaza” menu on the left side of the home page.
“Turnpike service plazas are no longer just a quick stop for gas,” added Christensen. “They offer a range of amenities like nationally known and regional food brands, comfortable seating areas, clean restrooms — and now free wireless internet access.”