Ogden School District Launches Free Internet Network To Connect Students At Home

OGDEN, Utah – Ogden School District officials have been working on a network to get high-speed internet to students who don’t normally have it at home for the last year, and they say it’s ready.

The network will provide students with free internet access for virtual learning and homework, and the hotspots will cost a tenth of what the district is paying for third-party access. 

There are some students who just like school. 

“I get to learn things,” said Hannah Dickinson, a senior at Ogden High School. “I want to become a physical therapist, and I kind of have to like school to be able to go through all the levels of school.” 

Dickinson already has a scholarship to Weber State University to continue her education. 

“I have most of my associate’s done. I’ll be done within the first semester at Weber State, hopefully,” she said. 

It would be easy to think school comes easy for her. However, Dickinson has worked hard. 

One of her biggest challenges was finding an internet connection to attend class, do homework, or even study. Her family doesn’t have internet access at home. 

“It’s really difficult,” she said. “I have to end up finding somewhere that does have internet. So, like, at the beginning of quarantine last time, I had to travel to friends’ houses, went to the library, just tried to find places that had internet.” 

Dickinson’s grades could have very easily suffered. 

It’s a concern Ogden School District officials have seen with some of its students.

 “COVID has presented, for about a year now, has caused significant challenges that has caused disruptions to learning,” said Dr. Rich Nye, Ogden School District superintendent. 

The district supplied students who needed internet at home with mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. 

“It’s so important that we recognize Wi-Fi and that connection to the internet is a utility,” said Nye. 

Those mobile hotspots were supposed to be a temporary solution, though, because lots of students needed them. 

Also, those hotspots were coming from a third party, like Verizon or T-Mobile, and were costing the district $20 a month per hotspot for unlimited data.

For the past year, district officials have been working on creating their own network. This week, they announced the network is about to go live with hotspots that cost about $2 a month. 

“So that everyone has an opportunity to receive the education that they deserve,” said Nye. 

The district’s network will not be a direct competitor to mobile cell companies because only computers on the district’s network will be able to access it. 

Even though Dickinson is already set for college, she can’t wait to get hers.  

She said she still wants good grades to finish high school, and she knows others do too. 

“I think that’s an amazing opportunity for lots more students,” she said. “I think it’ll be a little difficult just to get all the bugs worked out, but then it’ll be an amazing thing to be able to offer.”

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