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Release No. 0451.10
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Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

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District of Columbia Launches Free Wi-Fi on National Mall

USDA Supports Addition of New Mall Locations to Expand Access for Mall Visitors

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2010 – TODAY, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and District Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Bryan Sivak to announce the latest addition to the District's free wireless Internet initiative--outdoor "hotspots" on the national Mall. The new hotspots cover the Mall, from 3rd Street on the east to 14th Street on the west.

A "hotspot" is a site where anyone with a computer or other device with wi-fi capability can come and browse the Internet for free using the District's wireless network, "DC Wifi." At the direction of Mayor Fenty, the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) has already installed nearly 220 free wi-fi "hotspots." OCTO has installed hotspots in District government and outdoor sites throughout the city.

OCTO installed the new national Mall hotspots in collaboration with federal and private-sector partners. Federal partners include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. General Services Administration, National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution. Private-sector partners include Cisco, which donated network hardware, and Level 3, which donated Internet services.

Residents and visitors can use the new hotspots 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Tourists visiting the Smithsonian can access the rich content available on the District's website, www.dc.gov, and many other sites to plan visits to other local attractions. Residents can enhance a summer picnic by streaming music from the web. Workers taking a lunch break to run or catch some rays can say in touch with their offices. Everyone can enjoy nice weather and beautiful sights while browsing the Internet with their laptops and PDAs.

"The internet is now integral to our everyday lives, and this free resource will provide USDA employees, guests, and the visiting public another means of staying connected," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

"Now anyone can enhance the experience of a tourist visit, work break, or fitness walk on the Mall with all the rich resources available on the Internet—information, music, maps, video, and more," said CTO Sivak. "This is one more example of how we're deploying technology to make life and work for residents, businesses, and visitors more convenient, efficient, and fun."

"The U.S. General Services Administration's partnership with the District of Columbia and other federal partners for Wi-Fi on the Mall supports GSA's use of social media technologies to enhance communications, collaboration and information exchange in our community," said GSA Chief Information Officer Casey Coleman.

All of the District's free wi-fi hotspots are open to anyone, and there are no restrictions on what Internet sites users can visit, except at the hotspots in schools. At these sites, there are limits on access to some Internet sites to protect minors from harm.

To help people get to all the District's free wifi hotspots, OCTO has created a simple mapping application that displays all the wi-fi hotspots and information about each hotspot site. Users can visit http://wifi.dc.gov , click on any of the hotspot icons on the District map, and see the name and address of the hotspot site, along with a close-up map of its surrounding area and a link to directions from and to their starting point or destination.

To learn more about DC Government technology initiatives, visit http://octo.dc.gov.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).