School Bus WiFi Can Help Close Homework Gap, Senators Say

U.S. Sens. Corey Gardner (R-Colo.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) recently introduced a bill to put WiFi on school buses to make it easier for children who have no broadband internet access at home to do their schoolwork. The legislation would allow the FCC’s E-Rate program to reimburse schools that place the wireless internet technology on school buses carrying students to school or school-related extracurricular activities.

“Many students in rural school districts across Colorado and the country spend hours on the bus each day commuting to and from school and traveling to sporting events,” stated Gardner in a press release. “These students should have the opportunity to use their time more effectively and installing WiFi on school buses will allow them to finish homework assignments and bring the classroom to the road.”

“Nearly one-third of kids in New Mexico are at risk of falling behind simply because they can’t get on the internet at home,” Udall said. “By boosting federal investment in broadband and internet infrastructure, we’ll help close the digital divide that hurts too many rural New Mexico communities, Tribes, and low-income families.”

Several stakeholders support the legislation, including NTUA Wireless, a Navajo-owned communications company. Supporters like the Competitive Carriers Association say this initiative will help bridge the digital divide, particularly in tribal communities in New Mexico, which have limited internet access. “Access to educational resources is just one of the many benefits that robust mobile broadband services provides, and this bill will be especially beneficial for students in rural areas with long drive-times to and from school, said CCA President/CEO Steve Berry. “‘Connected buses’ should be available to all students, no matter where they live.”

Published June 4, 2018

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