Hohenfels' wireless barracks among the first in Europe
July 3, 2008
HOHENFELS, Germany - In today's high-tech communication world, Soldiers living in the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment barracks here felt cut off.
For most, the closest Internet access is across post at the bowling alley or library. And calling home with a phone card is expensive.
Soon that will change.
Construction is underway to wire the barracks so every room will have access to wireless Internet. Officials are hoping to have service up and working sometime during the week of July 7.
Hohenfels is one of the first garrisons in Europe to provide wireless Internet service in the barracks, according to Booker Paige, operations manager for the Army Recreation Machine Program for Hohenfels, Grafenwoehr and Garmisch, Germany.
The project is part of an Army-wide initiative to provide commercial Internet services where it is currently unavailable.
"It's a great program for Soldiers because they can carry the service with them," said Paige.
Any access that a Soldier purchases, for example a monthly plan, can be used anywhere there is service. For example, if a Soldier living in Hohenfels pays for a month of connection, then has a permanent change of station to Ft. Benning, Ga., the service will travel with him.
"Guys will be very excited about this," said Pvt. Chad Hill, who currently must walk to the bowling alley to get online. "It's a better way to communicate with family; it makes you feel more at home."
Spc. Richard Haggerty said he is able to get a dial-up connection from his room, though it costs him 60 euros (roughly $95) monthly.
Once the wireless is set up, Soldiers will be able to purchase access at $3.50 per hour, $9.50 per day, $24.50 per week, or $39 per month.
Rates through providers off post start at nearly 40 euros ($64) per month.
To access the service, Soldiers must have wireless modem capabilities on their computer. Once the computer recognizes the network and the Soldier tries to access the Internet, he will be prompted to purchase a plan.
Paige said Hohenfels is one of the first posts to implement this initiative as Lt. Col. Garry Bloomberg, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Hohenfels, pushed the project knowing it was something the Soldiers wanted and needed.
Lt. Col. John Lange, 1-4 battalion commander, said he and former Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick Akuna relayed the Soldier's concerns about their lack of Internet access in the barracks to Bloomberg, who began researching ways to make it happen.
Now, 1-4 Soldiers soon will be at the head of an Army-wide initiative to better serve its single and unaccompanied Soldiers.