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SHLB Touts Real-World Benefits of Funding Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Representatives of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition spoke with FCC Wireline Bureau staff to discuss its backing for the agency’s November proposal allowing schools and libraries to use E-rate support for off-premises Wi-Fi hot spots and wireless internet…

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services (see 2311090028). Among those at the meeting were staff from East Moline School District 37, located in East Moline, Illinois, and SmartWAVE, a district vendor. The district found that during the COVID-19 pandemic “many families could not afford Internet service and that the vast majority of Chromebooks they handed out wouldn’t work with hot spots due to poor mobile coverage,” said a filing posted Friday in docket 21-31: The district “worked with SmartWAVE Technologies to purchase access points and placed them on top of existing infrastructure like streetlights. All students are given a Chromebook, which then automatically connects to the network wherever they are situated.” The district found “this model is akin to extending its existing school WiFi network and devices into the community, which is much easier for their six-person IT department to manage, compared with tracking the service and devices provided by traditional mobile carrier hotspots,” SHLB said.