LINCOLNTON — Reliable internet access is a service that many in the county may take for granted, but not everything available online is available to everyone. It is estimated that approximately 14% of Lincoln County residents do not have Internet access. There are also many people who do not have a computer at home (about 11% of residents). With a grant from the federal government’s E-Rate program, the Lincoln County Public Library purchased 350 mobile hotspots and 65 Chromebooks (laptop computers) to loan to library patrons.
“This year there was a big pool of $7.1 million available through the Emergency Connectivity Fund,” said Phillip Overholtzer, the library’s program outreach manager. “That’s one of the things we’ve learned during the pandemic. Most people have a cell phone, but it’s hard to apply for a job on a cell phone or students trying to do their homework on a cell phone. The school system took care of itself, now we take care of the public.
Some people have the internet, but it’s excruciatingly slow, Overholtzer added.
There is no charge for renting the hotspot or laptop. Lost or damaged items will be charged to the customer’s account in accordance with the loan policy. All adult customers in good standing residing in Lincoln County may use a device.
Hotpots and Chromebooks will be checked for one week and lost item charges will be added to the contributor’s account after seven days of delay. Once the items are returned, the charges will be cleared from the account. Other internet devices will check for 14 days and will be “charged” after 30 days late.
The unlimited 4G LTE hotspot service provided by Verizon Wireless. These devices should work anywhere a Verizon cell phone will get service, or about 98% of the county.
To date, there is no renewal on these types of materials. Items must be returned to a library staff member at the end of the loan period. There will be a one week waiting period before the customer switches devices.
Adult customers may have up to two electronic devices on their account in any combination. There is a limit of one access point and one Chromebook per household.
The information will not be tracked by the library or service provider, but patrons borrowing the device will need to agree to abide by the library’s internet usage policy when checking out the item.
Hotspots are an unsecured network, which means that your data may be intercepted by another wireless user. It is best not to transmit personal data such as social security numbers or financial information when using an unsecured network. Internet is filtered according to CIPA.
The access point can support up to five devices at a time.
You will disconnect the same way you disconnect from any WiFi network. Click on your WiFi connections, choose the SmartSpot connection, then click the “forget network” button.