Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced last week that students in the Northland Pines School District would soon have access to high-speed broadband internet thanks to a $100,000 grant. WSAW-TV reported that the funding, courtesy of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), would allow the Forest County Economic Development to test a tethered, drone-based internet system from Wisconsin Telelift.
According to Northland Pines District Administrator Scott Foster, not all students have equal access to high-speed internet, and WEDC is trying to remedy that challenge. “Does it replace a tower? No, but it does have a lot of capabilities to help us when there are times where students really do need the internet for learning,” Foster said. He added that up to 50 percent of families in rural areas could use better internet service, and 10 percent lack access entirely.
The tethered drone will float over 200 feet above the ground and expand existing cell phone service and tower internet connections, providing better access. WSAW reported that the drone would be used outside of school hours and on snow days for up to six hours at a time. The pilot is scheduled to begin this month and will last for six months total.