Mar 17 2021

The Checklist: Close the Broadband Gap

To ensure online access for students living in Wi-Fi deserts, here are some critical steps and considerations.

Though Wi-Fi achieved some level of ubiquity years ago, reliable access still remains out of reach for the countless students living in broadband deserts across the nation. It’s a problem made starkly clear over the past year, as the pandemic forced universities and their students to embrace remote learning.

Last summer, EDUCAUSE and a coalition of higher education advocates and associations raised the alarm on the state of America’s broadband infrastructure. While campus closures have slowed the spread of COVID-19, the subsequent “emergency transition to remote learning and services has highlighted the significant digital divide that exists between students from … rural areas and their peers,” education leaders wrote in a joint letter to Congress in June.

While the broadband divide predates the emergence of COVID-19, the need to fix it has become more urgent than ever, particularly with hybrid learning looking more likely to continue even after the pandemic subsides. Here are some tips for IT teams looking to help students gain critical Wi-Fi access.

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The Checklist

Expand campus Wi-Fi.
Universities across the nation have taken innovative approaches to expand campus Wi-Fi, establishing hotspots in creative places, including intramural sports fields, athletic clubhouses, parking lots, courtyards and green spaces.

Invest in loaner Wi-Fi hotspots.

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