SBCSC’s new LTE Network will give Wi-Fi access to every student

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – The South Bend Community School Corporation has been getting creative in order to help students get internet access at home for a while now, especially with the height of e-learning during the pandemic.

Now, creation of the district’s very own LTE Network is changing the game.

“In the age of the internet, I guess you’re always e-learning to some degree,” says John Anella, the President of South Bend’s Board of School Trustees.

With a good amount of school work requiring a computer these days, home internet access has become a necessity.

According to the city, roughly 30 percent of students in the South Bend Community School Corporation do not have reliable internet access at home.

“You can give anyone a Chromebook, but if you can’t connect to the internet, it might as well just be a paperweight,” Anella says.

Which is why the South Bend Community School Corporation is in the process of creating their very own LTE Network- that will help students get access to Wi-Fi at home.

“Much like your cellphone, you use AT&T or Verizon or whatever, and you have data on your cellphone, this is the same exact concept,” says Patrick Stalvey, the Chief Technology Officer for South Bend Community Schools Corporation.

Currently, the district offers mobile hotspots and Wi-Fi modems, but Stalvey says that this program will be different from initiatives the district has taken in the past. It will be a more permanent solution.

“This is a lot different in the fact that it’s not full corporate solution. It is going to be managed by us and run off our network,” says Stalvey.

New CBRS technology will allow the district to put up signal towers throughout South Bend.

“CBRS is an emerging technology. It was actually approved by the federal government in 2016 I believe, so there’s not a lot of schools- I think in our research we found maybe a dozen schools that have started to roll this out,” Stalvey says.

The cutting edge technology will eventually allow every SBCSC student and their families to have internet access at home.

“At first we’ll start targeting our students that are lower income but really it’s available for any student that doesn’t have internet and then as we start bridging that gap more, we hope to expand it for all students,” says Stalvey.

The South Bend Community School’s Board of Trustees are calling the initiative ‘amazing.’

“You just want to be able to do your work, so you can just pop open your Chromebook, and there’s our network that we built. I mean it’s pretty amazing,” Anella says.

The launch will start out with signals on top of three buildings; Jackson Middle School, Riley High School, and Hayes Tower, to test the feasibility of the technology.

Stalvey says they are hoping to have the network ready by next school year.

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