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Mason PUD 3 Named "Wi-Fi at Work" Award Winner

Mason PUD 3 Named "Wi-Fi at Work" Award Winner

by Mason PUD 3 on

September 08, 2021

Award Recognizes Organizations Connecting Communities with Wi-Fi in Innovative Ways

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On September 8, 2021, Mason PUD 3 was named a 2021 Wi-Fi at Work Award by WifiForward, a coalition of companies, organizations and public sector institutions working to keep communities connected over the internet.

WifiForward’s Wi-Fi at Work Awards recognize organizations that have kept communities connected via Wi-Fi during this time. Mason PUD 3 was specifically recognized for its deployment of the free community Drive-In Wi-Fi hotspots. 

The project involved PUD 3 teaming up with fire districts, port districts, community halls, Mason County, and others to setup wireless hotspots at twenty-eight (28). The sites are all over Mason County, from the Tahuya Peninsula to Matlock, and many places in between. Backed by PUD 3’s high speed fiber network, users can expect internet speeds of about 300 Mbps download and 300 Mbps upload at the hotspots. A map of locations is available at www.pud3.org/wifi.

The program was part of PUD 3’s response to the coronavirus emergency to make sure every student in Mason County had a safe place to use a free high-speed Wi-Fi hotspot to access classwork, download assignments, and communicate with their teacher while schools were shut down. The Drive-In Wi-Fi initiative gave those without high-speed internet in their homes a chance to connect while practicing appropriate social distancing. While the hotspots were deployed to support distance learning for our local school districts, citizens who needed high-speed internet access are also able to use the Wi-Fi.

PUD 3 was encouraged by the Washington State Broadband Office and Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Chris Reykdal, to set up a network of Wi-Fi sites, in concert with a statewide program to establish similar services at school districts and libraries throughout the state.

WiFiForward awarded a total of 16 awards.

 “We are proud to receive this recognition and as a community-owned utility, we are always eager to find a way to help our local community,” said Annette Creekpaum, Mason PUD 3 Manager. PUD 3’s Director of Engineering & Utility Services, Justin Holzgrove, added, “We have always felt that high speed internet should be considered an essential utility. While the Drive-In Wi-Fi hotspots were necessary during the pandemic, the PUD continues to work hard to build out fiber optic infrastructure to homes and businesses in our unserved areas of Mason County.”

“Wi-Fi is a literal lifeline,” said Ellen Satterwhite, spokesperson for WifiForward. “So many organizations found creative ways to bring this lifeline to more people when they needed it most. These Wi-Fi At Work Awards recognize these remarkable organizations. On behalf of all our coalition members, we are pleased to honor this vital work to connect our communities.”

In the past year, COVID-19 completely transformed our way of life, from how we work to how we go to school and everything in between. Wi-Fi has emerged as an essential service for all Americans, allowing millions of Americans to sustain jobs, drive business, keep students educated and maintain social bonds amidst a once-in-a-generation pandemic.