When Lea Bogle, the out president and CEO of Premier Wireless, received a request to attend a Zoom meeting to help an Arkansas school district expand their students’ Wi-Fi access, she didn’t expect to find two high-school students—rather than the district’s administrators—on her computer screen.
“The students contacted Premier Wireless in an effort to find out how they could get Wi-Fi on their school busses,” Bogle recalls, noting that both of them rode the bus for an hour each day—and as much as three hours one-way to sporting events.
By the time the students got home, they would sometimes need to stay up until 1 a.m. to finish their homework, Bogle added. “They wanted the ability to complete their homework on the bus so they could go to bed sooner, be better rested, and better prepared for school the next day.”
Premier Wireless is still in the process of helping the students get Wi-Fi on the Arkansas district’s fleet of busses. And thanks to the $7.17 billion in federal funding available through the new Emergency Connectivity Funds, up to 100 percent of the funding needed for Premier Wireless’ ConnectED Bus Wi-Fi solution can be covered. All applications for the federal funding must be submitted by Friday, August 13.
Bus Wi-Fi is cost effective and sustainable, Bogle says. “Our solution, built with a Peplink Max Transit router and coupled with T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan, can [cost a school district] less than a penny per day, per student.”
With the ongoing use of remote-learning options that came out of the COVID-19 pandemic, free Wi-Fi is even more vital for students who lack the broadband internet access that is needed to connect to classrooms.
“In today’s society, we expect Wi-Fi in coffee shops and restaurants, on mass transit and airplanes, and even in neighborhood parks. So why don’t we provide Wi-Fi for students on the school bus?” Bogle said.
Premier Wireless is a Houston-based company that has earned its Certified LGBT Business Enterprise designation from the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. It specializes in providing wireless communications solutions to businesses, schools, and government offices.