Groups provide broadband to S.C. housing project

Novatel Wireless, Kajeet launch pilot project for educational broadband access

broadband-wirelessWireless service provider Kajeet, along with Novatel Wireless, are partnering with South Carolina’s Spartanburg School District Seven and the Spartanburg Housing Authority for a pilot program to provide students in public housing with filtered internet connectivity to access online textbooks, apps, emails, documents and websites, as well as communicate with their teachers.

Seven in 10 teachers assign homework that requires high-speed internet access, and yet, on average, only 30 percent of students can access the internet at home, according to the Federal Communications Commission.

In the past two years, Spartanburg School District Seven has attempted to put technology in the hands of all its children by providing all students in grades 3 through 12 with either an Apple iPad or MacBook Air.

Next page: District estimates about the number of students without home internet

“These devices are giving them opportunities—a tool to further their education,” said Christine Horowitz, director of instructional technology for Spartanburg District Seven. “When they take their iPads and computers home, it extends the learning day. Now we want to level the playing field for those without Internet access at home. This new program will benefit our students and their families.”

Horowitz says based on their last survey, the district estimates that 50 percent of its students still can’t access the internet from home.

The district partners with local business, churches and organizations to ensure there are Wi-Fi locations for its students, but its concern turned to the students living in public housing who may not be able to access even those locations, she said.

“Public housing authorities provide adequate and affordable housing, but no internet,” said Miguel A. Pastrana, IT Systems Analyst for the Spartanburg Housing Authority. “I am a big proponent of education, and this is a great opportunity to level the playing field for these students. At the Spartanburg Housing Authority, we are always looking for ways to assist or make an impact on our resident’s lives. By collaborating with Spartanburg School District 7, Kajeet and Novatel Wireless, we all now have the opportunity, not only to make a contribution to the residents and the community at large, but to the students who currently do not have many outlets and at times fell that no one cares.”

As part of the program, Kajeet and Novatel Wireless will provide Kajeet SmartSpot solutions–a MiFi brand mobile hotspot by Novatel Wireless–and the Kajeet Education Broadband to ensure the students are accessing safe, filtered broadband for educational purposes.

Because the devices are provided by the school district, the Spartanburg Housing Authority wanted to ensure the broadband being provided was filtered and managed to keep them on task.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione

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