A new proposal from the Federal Communications Commission would allow Wi-Fi school buses to be installed nationwide using government funds to bridge the digital divide.
coronavirusThe -19 pandemic has brought many things into perspective, one of which is the vitality of reliable technology. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in April 2021, 90% of Americans mark the internet as “basic’ or ‘important’ during the epidemic.In the same survey, 38% of parents whose children in K-12 schools were closed due to the pandemic reported that their children actually had to Rely on public Wi-Fi to get the job done. As the pandemic begins, hopefully, calm and peaceful, digital divide— the gap between certain demographics and access to technologies like high-speed internet —still wide.
To close this gap, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has proposed a solution to increase student access to reliable Wi-Fi: put on the school bus. “I found that seven out of 10 teachers are assigning homework that requires internet access,” says Rosenworcel in a speech Submitted to the National Education Technology Alliance and Training Council on May 11, 2022. “But the FCC’s data consistently shows that one-third of households don’t have broadband,” Rosenworcel said. 17 million students are victims of the digital divide (also known as job gap).
The proposal not only aims to provide students with access to reliable internet on their way to and from school, but also for those students who participate in extracurricular activities.Rosen Worcel saysFor example, student-athletes traveling to different towns can take advantage of “Wi-Fi on wheels” to complete homework during their commute without having to wait until they get home later in the evening.”Every student who rides the school bus and feels like they don’t have enough time to juggle their homework will benefit,” she said. Or even park these buses Acts as a Wi-Fi hub in front of the school.
Funding for Wi-Fi-enabled buses will come from FCC Emergency roomeat show, where eligible schools and libraries can apply for financial support to increase their broadband connections. Rosenworcel cited bipartisan interest in her idea on Capitol Hill and hoped the proposal would move forward.