Intercampus Wi-Fi Network Links K-12 Schools and Universities
Airpath, Bluesocket, the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA) and the Broadband Alliance have joined together to form the Education First Network, the first intercampus Wi-Fi network that will link K-12 schools and universities to one another in an attempt to offer more resources for students, staff and faculty. Through the program, each school’s users will be able to roam from school to school, across school district boundaries or to any education system around the world, and still be connected to their campus. So far, the new alliance has connected five universities in Minnesota, including Winona State University, which recently dispersed 4,000 laptops to its campus community.
“As long as a K-12 school or higher education institution is part of the Education First Network, all students, faculty and employees of that institution who already have network access on their campus or facility will have the same access when they are at another institution,” says Jo A. Boettcher, COO of the Broadband Alliance.
In order to make this happen, Airpath will provide the network interconnect solution through InterRoam, a hosted transaction-based clearing, settlement and rating platform that allows complete control of Wi-Fi roaming.
“Airpath’s InterRoam platform is one of the world’s first Wi-Fi interconnect and clearinghouse exchanges, bringing together Wi-Fi network providers with carriers seeking to quickly build their Wi-Fi footprint, while giving them complete control in setting the terms of their partnership,” explains Boettcher. “Once the partnership is established, InterRoam handles the complex task of roaming interconnectivity, intercarrier tracking and wholesale billing.”
According to Boettcher, InterRoam provides a continually updated exchange whichlists carriers that offer Wi-Fi access points around the world. It offers information such as location, venue type, price and provider (privacy option available). InterRoam also gives its users a secure site using 128-bit encryption; easy-to-use, secure tools for identifying carriers offering and buying Wi-Fi capacity; as well as the ability to implement detailed customer access and pricing agreements that enable roaming, clearing and settlement.
Costs for universities to join the network include a one-time enrollment fee and a monthly network connection charge. Schools are also charged based on the size of their full-time enrollment.
Institutions will also receive roaming revenue from other commercial partners being managed by InterRoam, with funds dispersed through NJPA and the Broadband Alliance directly back to the institution. Roaming revenue is acquired when a carrier’s customer accesses its wireless Internet using the Education First Network.
Institutions that have a wireless infrastructure already in place can join the network online. And for schools that are not yet set up to handle wireless connectivity, such as many K-12 institutions, there are a couple of programs in place to help them get going. For more information, visit www.bballiance.net or www.njpacoop.org.
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.