Public/Private Collaboration Helps Connect K-12 Students from School to Home

Tropos Networks® and Information Transport Solutions, Inc. (ITS) today announced that they have been selected by the Piedmont City School District to build a wireless broadband communications network that will provide Piedmont K-12 students with wireless Internet connectivity. The wireless network, owned by ITS, will serve approximately 1,100 students, many of whom live in rural areas with no Internet access. The broadband connectivity is federally funded by an E-rate grant as part of the FCC’s “Learning On-The-Go” wireless pilot program to increase students’ off-campus mobile Internet connections. Piedmont City School District was one of 20 schools selected for the pilot project and the only one to utilize a wireless mesh network.

In addition to the E-rate grant, the citizens of Piedmont worked with the school district to supply 900 Apple® MacBook Pro laptops to students to help further their education. “This is a great example of how a public/private collaborative effort can give area students an educational boost,” said Piedmont City School Superintendent, Matt Akin. “Now, thanks to laptops and access to the Internet, economically disadvantaged students – especially those in rural areas – will have a tremendous opportunity to further their knowledge and collaborate with teachers and fellow students that before was either extremely difficult or non-existent.”

In the first quarter of 2012, ITS will deploy a Tropos® wireless broadband network, including 216 Tropos routers, over seven square miles. The wireless network will connect to the city’s 1 gigabit per second fiber backbone. “It’s a pleasure to work with both the City of Piedmont and the Piedmont School District to implement a communications network that will enable reliable Internet connectivity for Piedmont students,” said Barry Carpenter, vice president technology for Information Transport Solutions. “Selecting the right technology to meet students’ needs was paramount. We evaluated other wireless technologies, including cellular, but they could not compare to Tropos’ high performance, coverage and demonstrated reliability.”

Through use of the new network, students will have many opportunities including keeping up with course credits for working students, participation in “digital summer school,” and preparing for college. “For many of our students, college was just a dream. Now, though technology, they will have the expectation to continue their education which will lead to a better future. It is our goal that this project will serve as a great example to other cities and school districts of how ‘anywhere, anytime learning’ can help both students and the community,” said Akin.

“We are pleased to be chosen by ITS to help bring reliable Internet connectivity to the students of Piedmont,” said Rob Pilgrim, vice president of marketing and corporate development for Tropos Networks. “This project will be a great example of how closing the digital divide will enrich students and communities alike. We’re proud to be part of this effort bringing the digital world to Piedmont students.”

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