Bridging the Digital Divide for Students & Communities During COVID-19

By Nikki Lucas, Product Evangelist with WAV Inc.

School buses

Since COVID-19’s classification as a global pandemic, United States citizens and residents are forced to adapt to a new way of life as it relates to work, school and socializing. From a connectivity standpoint, this has reinforced a lack of access to reliable connectivity as a critical problem for many students. Digital platforms have become the core focus, and central to children in their studies. With the exception of incumbent homeschool programs, distance learning has become the new standard. But what happens if that student’s access is limited to a cellular device or none at all?

The digital divide that exists illuminates glaring network coverage deficiencies in our new way of life in broadband coverage, and in access to educational resources online. In response, public and private school systems are solving these issues by deploying outdoor and mobile access networks. This is a creative, cost effective, and easily deployed measure that also provides appropriate social distancing while closing the connectivity gap.

Outdoor Networks

Schools and libraries have installed outdoor access points in parking lots that connect to their existing network. This allows children, students and/or members of the community to drive up to the location and access the internet without leaving their vehicle, adhering to their community social distancing guidelines. Students can obtain their work and use any learning platforms available through these networks.

Ruckus Outdoor Access Points

Outdoor Wi-Fi Access Points & Bridges

Mobile Networks

Another highlighted inequity of the pandemic is the reliance on school provided lunches for basic nourishment. Buses are delivering lunches via their normal route stops, or new ones have been created in order to deliver these lunches on a daily basis. Creatively, some districts have implemented LTE enabled access points to allow for mobile hotspots so that students, parents or local residents can leverage the cellular network during these stops.

Ruckus M510 Access Point 

RUCKUS M510 Indoor Access Point

Cooperatively, WAV Inc, CommScope Ruckus and our mutual partners are working to find solutions to new problems that are developing as a result of COVID-19. If you would like more information on these solutions, please contact WAV Inc: Nikki Lucas, Product Evangelist 630-818-1000

Additional Resources: CommScope Ruckus, Adding Value during Crisis: K12 Education Webinar