Company introduces ‘mobile’ Wi-Fi for students

Technology is attached to vehicles that are then moved throughout school districts to create connections.
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The portable vehicle Wi-Fi system can be placed so that students without a broadband connection at home still can connect to the internet. Courtesy Morgan West

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) A Grand Rapids company is offering school districts the option of providing Wi-Fi to their students in the unlikeliest of places.

Moss, a technological solutions company, launched a portable vehicle Wi-Fi system for students to use. The unit can be attached to vehicles such as buses magnetically and powered through a standard vehicle accessory port.

The mobile unit can support up to two SIM cards each for different carriers. Moss also has access to various cellular carriers’ services including T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon that it can provide.

The unit also has an ArubaCentral remote management overlay. According to Ron Spencer, chief sales officer for Moss, it provides a cloud-based management overlay to allow Moss to manage the unit from any internet connection and content filter subscription services to prevent access to restricted categories of content.

“The elements we used to create the solution have been used for many years to support various applications,” he said. “We took these elements and reconstructed the solution to align with our customers’ needs.”

Moss is partnering with a number of school districts in the state, including the Three Rivers Area Schools and Waverly Public Schools.

Back in May, Three Rivers Community Schools (TRCS) outfitted its fleet vehicles with Moss’ mobile Wi-Fi transmitters. Ron Moag, superintendent for TRCS, said the district installed Wi-Fi on three of its vehicles: two vans and one bus. The vehicles traveled to different locations throughout the day and provided instructions at the sites on how to access the internet.

The pandemic has pushed schools, organizations and companies to become innovative in ways to best support students.

In June, the state announced that it was partnering with Connected Nation Michigan to launch an online map of free Wi-Fi hot spots to help those who are without internet access find available broadband connections.

“This pandemic has shown a real need to tackle the barriers of access, adoption and affordability to fully enable the opportunities that the internet makes possible,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said. “If we are going to close the internet gap, we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can in the interim to expand access to existing broadband options for communities where it’s not readily available or affordable.”

The Grand Rapids Public Library is collaborating with five neighborhood organizations to provide free Wi-Fi hot spots to students who are participating in distance and hybrid learning.

Grand Rapids Community College is partnering with Kent District Library to provide increased Wi-Fi access to its students at all of the library’s 19 branches.

According to the Michigan Department of Education, more than 70% of the state’s students reported using internet-enabled devices at home for schoolwork, but more than 28% of students live in homes without internet access that can support virtual learning.

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