People are so clever. I love the innovation here. It’s not a permanent fix but what a great way to reach people who currently don’t even have enough cell coverage to support students or workers trying to get online at home. I know there are areas in Minnesota that are in the same boat! Wisconsin Public Radio reports…
Rural Northwoods students who lack reliable internet at home will soon be able to connect to their school networks via a drone-powered cellular signal.
A Wisconsin startup will be part of a state-funded pilot program in the Eagle River area that will test the use of drones as a way to expand internet connectivity into rural areas.
It’s a partnership between the new company Wisconsin Telelift and the Northland Pines School District. The drones will be fitted with cellphone towers, allowing students throughout the sprawling Northwoods district to get online, even in rural areas where cellphone service and broadband access are unavailable or unreliable.
It’s a real need in a district that is among the state’s largest geographically, spreading over 435 square miles in Vilas and Oneida counties.
As many as 15 percent of the district’s 1,340 students have no internet access at home, said Northland Pines administrator Scott Foster, and half of its students have unreliable connections that don’t always allow for streaming video and other tools used in educational software. The district provides Chromebooks to its students and portable hotspots to those who need them — but the hotspots can only work where there is a strong cellular signal. In much of the district, that’s just not the case.