Tower installations to provide free home Internet access for 1-to-1 students in Pasadena ISD

Tower installations to provide free home Internet access for 1-to-1 students in Pasadena ISD
Posted on 11/03/2015
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During the October 29 board meeting, the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees authorized the Office of Technology to proceed with a project that will ultimately provide complimentary home Internet access to students through a new broadband LTE wireless system.

The project calls for the installation of LTE towers at 15 sites in the district that will accommodate campus feeder patterns in the Pasadena, Houston and South Houston areas. These include Pasadena High School; Beverly Hills, Queens, San Jacinto, and Southmore Intermediate Schools; Roberts Middle School; Bush, Burnett, Freeman, Melillo, South Houston, Sparks, Turner and Young Elementary Schools; and the Transportation department.

The project will benefit students who were issued take-home laptops through the district’s 1-to-1 technology program but do not have access to Internet service at home. The 1-to-1 program serves roughly 17,500 students in grades 5 through 10. Of those, about 3,500 students have indicated they do not have access to Internet service at home.

“This is the next big step in the district’s technology journey,” Steven Wentz, Pasadena ISD chief technology officer said. “The 1-to-1 program put personalized computers into the hands of students. Now, 1-to-1 students will have around-the-clock access to the Internet so there are no limitations on when they can complete their homework assignments.”

Each student will be issued an LTE wireless home router through the new wireless system. A district network login will be required to access the service as a precautionary measure to ensure Internet safety.

The Long-Term Evolution (LTE) broadband system provides high-speed wireless Internet service for mobile devices that supports wide-area networking.

The technology department is working with M&A Technology to purchase and install the LTE towers. The estimated total amount for the installation is about $813,000 and will be funded through the 2014 school bond technology budget.

The 90 ft. tall towers have about a two-mile radius and can sustain substantial wind speeds of up to 115 miles per hour. The towers have about a 30-year lifespan.

The first pilot tower is expected to be installed at Pasadena High School in January 2016. The installation project is expected to be completed by summer 2016.

Pasadena ISD will be the first school district in the state to provide complimentary home Internet service to students in need using a district built wireless system, according to Wentz. The board voted unanimously in support of the project.

“We’ve heard about the project for some time and it is exciting that we finally get to see it come to fruition,” Vickie Morgan, board member said.

“I am so excited to know that students will have the opportunity to get schoolwork done at home,” Wentz said. “We appreciate the support from the board and the community on this project.”