Reliable internet access is essential for today's students to learn, research, collaborate, and succeed. Yet nearly 17 million US children lack adequate connectivity at home, disproportionately impacting rural, minority, and low-income populations. This widening “digital divide” threatens to exacerbate existing inequalities in education.
Private-public partnerships utilizing innovative technologies like 5G networks can help close connectivity gaps efficiently and cost-effectively. For example, when 80% of students in Illinois’ Rock Island School District lacked home internet during the pandemic, a rapid deployment of devices and routers leveraging 5G networks ensured continued access to classes and assignments.
As immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality transform curriculums, ultra-fast, high-capacity 5G promises the speed and reliability to bring these next-gen learning tools to every student. 5G fixed wireless business internet delivers fiber-like speeds without the hassle and expense of cable installation, making it a viable option for connecting rural schools. Private 5G networks allow customized security and access controls.
School districts nationwide can apply for the $65 billion allocated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to upgrade connectivity infrastructure. By taking advantage of innovative technologies and funding opportunities, we can ensure all students develop the digital fluency needed to participate fully in higher education, the workforce, and civic life. The future success of our nation depends on providing our youth with equality of access today.