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Morrisey, Tractor Supply announce broadband expansion

LOGAN — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Thursday that Tractor Supply Company will establish broadband hotspots at store parking lots across West Virginia — including Elkins — as an immediate service meant to help those struggling with internet access amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Tractor Supply Company has activated hotspots at 23 of its 28 locations in West Virginia. Each hotspot offers consumers speeds of up to 6 to 50 megabytes per second from the socially distanced comfort of one’s vehicle.

The Attorney General and company officials announced the project Thursday in Logan describing it as an immediate, short-term alternative for those needing internet access for school work, telemedicine appointments, business purposes and to connect with friends or family.

“This is a true act of good corporate citizenship,” Morrisey said. “Broadband access is crucial for keeping pace in this ever-changing world. Tractor Supply’s actions will help many West Virginians who in the short term lack access to high-speed internet to excel in school, receive medical care and conduct business.”

“Now more than ever, our neighbors are facing broadband challenges, and Tractor Supply is there to help,” said Chris Vanfosson, Tractor Supply District Manager for West Virginia. “Providing free Wi-Fi at 23 Tractor Supply stores and counting in West Virginia is one of the ways we are trying to help school children, small business owners, farmers and those who need access to telemedicine.”

Tractor Supply Company will provide the service during business hours. Those wishing to access a hotspot should visit a participating store’s parking lot, search their device for available Wi-Fi networks and accept the user agreement. Streaming will be inaccessible.

Participating stores are located in Beckley, Belle, Berkeley Springs, Bluefield, Buckhannon, Charles Town, Clarksburg, Elkins, Follansbee, Hurricane, Lavalette, Logan, Martinsburg, Moorefield, Morgantown, New Martinsville, Oak Hill, Parkersburg, Ripley, Romney, Summersville, Weston and Wheeling.

Upgrades are still pending at Tractor Supply Company locations in Glen Dale, Keyser, Kingwood, Ronceverte and Spencer.

The project is part of the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition, a broader partnership between Tractor Supply Company, Microsoft, Land O’Lakes and more than 100 other organizations to expand high-speed internet infrastructure into rural America.

Company officials developed the parking lot project in cooperation with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative.

The Attorney General encourages anyone using public Wi-Fi to exercise routine precautions. Users should avoid accessing bank records or conducting financial transactions on a public network, as well as avoid any unfamiliar links that may contain malware and make sure any web address starts with https:// to verify a secure connection.

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