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A School District Is Building a DIY Broadband Network

Monticello High School teacher Eric Bredder (left) confers with students using a CNC milling machine.

The Albemarle County, VA, school district is building its own broadband network, using the Educational Broadband Service.

Credit: Michael Craddock

The Albemarle County, VA, school district is addressing a lack of student broadband access by building its own network, using the Educational Broadband Service.

Walton Middle School principal Josh Walton says the broadband shortage defeats the Internet's promise to enable rural and lower-income students to enjoy academic and cultural resources. "These kids are now disadvantaged two ways and that opportunity gap grows even more," he says.

The Albemarle district is deploying four mountaintop base stations linking to broadband Internet beamed from school roofs, facilitating what will be a countywide network within two years. The stations will use communications towers employed by emergency services, which in turn can use the district's broadband.

Buried fiber-optic cable will route data between school-based transmitters, receivers, servers, and regional data hubs, while outdoor "client unit" routers will pick up the Internet and direct it to school-issued computers at no charge. One router will be distributed to each student household in the district.

From The Hechinger Report
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