It doesn’t matter where you live. The digital divide affects your life and your children’s lives. At this week’s Wi-Fi NOW Virtual Wi-Fi World Congress event, I shared how COVID-19 has changed every home to become an office and a school and underscored the need for more bandwidth. Very quickly, the pandemic also put a spotlight on the nature and size of the digital divide. This inspired community leaders to think differently and create an unprecedented solution. We now have an outstanding example of HOW to bridge the digital divide. The solution did not come from large corporations. Community leaders are leveraging their resources, local regulations and applying wireless technology. They are connecting their world themselves – and showing others the way.
This SmartCities Dive article describes the success story for the city of McAllen, Texas where about 7,000 students now have access to Wi-Fi. Students were studying in the evening or at night in fast food joints because that was the only place where they could get Wi-Fi. That was unsafe. Community leaders took immediate action. In a matter of five to six weeks, Frontera Consulting deployed a phenomenal network with our dozens of CBRS base stations connecting 1,000 outdoor Wi-Fi access points in a community network. Now, the students can study and do their homework in a safe environment. Success stories like this provide a sneak preview of where education can go with community support.
I commend the city leaders, Frontera Consulting and Federated Wireless for pulling together a mission-critical production and quality solution in five to six weeks. We’re very pleased to be a part of a community where companies are bringing goodness to the world. This first deployment shows the way that no village will be left behind. I look forward to replicating this example in other locations where students need connectivity.