New Mexico sees TV tech as one fix to K-12 internet divide

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Internet problems continue to slow down many students in the U.S. state of New Mexico, but a pilot project using TV signals to transmit computer files may help.

On Thursday, state public education officials distributed devices to eight families in the city of Taos that allow schools to send them digital files via television. The boxes the size of a deck of cards allow digital television receivers to connect with computers using technology called datacasting.

Many rural areas of New Mexico are too far from internet infrastructure like fiber cables and cell towers but do get TV reception.


In October, local broadcasting affiliates of New Mexico PBS finished testing the technology to make sure they could set aside bandwidth not taken up by TV show broadcasts and dedicate it to broadcast downloadable digital files.

The pilot program in Taos relies on a broadcast from northern New Mexico PBS affiliate KNME, while two others are planning to roll out pilot programs in the cities of Silver City and Portales.

Remote learning during the pandemic highlighted the digital divide for New Mexico students, many of whom had to learn using paper packets while their peers could participate in virtual lessons via video chat.

Even with schools back to offering in-person classes, internet inequality persists after class when students do homework, and for students being quarantined due to virus concerns.

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