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Spectrum unlocks public WiFi hotspots to aid Hawaii wildfire relief

Parent company Charter Communications says more than 8,000 public WiFi access points are free to access.

Parent company Charter Communications says more than 8,000 public WiFi access points are free to access.

A maintenance worker with Charter's Spectrum works on a utility line. (Courtesy photo)
A maintenance worker with Charter’s Spectrum works on a utility line. (File image/Courtesy photo)

Charter Communications says it is unlocking access to thousands of public WiFi hotspots across the Hawaiian Islands in an effort to assist residents, businesses and first responders afflicted by the wildfires in Maui.

This week, the company said more than 8,000 of its Spectrum-branded out-of-home public WiFi access points will provide free and unlimited access to broadband Internet where Spectrum service has not been disrupted by the fires.

Residents, businesses and first responders who want to take advantage of Spectrum’s free public WiFi service should connect to an access point, then choose “Spectrum Free Trial” if they are not a Spectrum customer. A browser will automatically open with a list of terms and conditions; users simply need to press “Agree & Connect” to get unlimited, free access to Spectrum’s public WiFi service.

Spectrum Mobile customers and those with the Spectrum WiFi profile already on their devices can automatically connect to access points without any additional steps taken.

A list of Spectrum out-of-home WiFi access points can be viewed by clicking or tapping here.

Additionally, Charter says it is operating free Spectrum WiFi access points at four community resource centers:

  • Iron Maehara Stadium (225 Kanaloa Avenue, Wailuku)
  • Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center (91 Pukalani Street, Makawao)
  • War Memorial Gym (700 Halia Nakoa Street, Wailuku)
  • War Memorial Stadium (700 Halia Nakoa Street, Wailuku)

“Charter’s WiFi network will help ensure online connectivity for those who need it outside of the home, including essential government employees, first responders, health-care workers and essential businesses,” a Charter spokesperson said in a statement this week.

The free WiFi access is just one way major telecommunications providers are stepping up to assist residents, businesses and first responders affected by the Maui wildfires.

AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon say they are waiving overages charges and providing free, unlimited voice, text and wireless data service to postpaid and prepaid residential customers, as well as its small business and enterprise customers. AT&T also says it is giving first responders with FirstNet-active devices priority access to its network, and all three have launched mobile communications towers to offset the loss of equipment damaged or otherwise disrupted by the fires and associated power outages.

DirecTV, which provides satellite and streaming TV service to the islands, says it is providing automatic bill credits for residents in two Lahaina ZIP codes (96761 and 96767) and pausing all credit and collection efforts for residential and business customers in other impacted areas.