Wireless Networking | News

Texas District To Extend Wireless into Low-Income Neighborhood

Dawson Independent School District in Texas has overhauled its campus wireless network and is now looking to expand it beyond campus boundaries, reaching out into the homes of students living in low-income neighborhoods.

According to information released by the district, the new network was part of a larger initiative funded through a grant program from consumer electronics maker Apple, which was also used to fund the purchase of 100 iPods for students and 40 MacBook systems for staff members. EnGenius Technologies gear is being used for the indoor and outdoor network and for the repeaters that will allow the network to be extended as far as 17 miles into students' homes.

Within classrooms, students and teachers will have access to an 802.11n WiFi network using nine EnGenius ECB9500 access points with support for multiple SSIDs to help control network access on a user level using VLAN tagging (also known as IEEE 802.1Q). The district is also using an EOR7550 wireless repeater for outside the classroom, providing 802.11b/g wireless access over medium distances. For extreme range, Dawson ISD is also using two EnGenius EOC5610 wireless client bridges/access points--one at the school for broadcasting and one at a housing complex 17 miles away for receiving, according to EnGenius.

"We have 84 seventh and eighth grade students here, and this is a low-income area," said Cameron Shaw, Dawson ISD's IT director, in a statement released Friday. "To be able to provide this kind of technology to these kids is very rewarding. They are able to stay connected to the school, their teachers and the material they need any time, thanks to Apple's funding and EnGenius Technologies' exceptional products and support. On-campus WiFi and connectivity have been terrific, and I expect the deployment to the offsite housing complex to work equally well. I am currently documenting this implementation and will be recommending EnGenius networking products to IT directors and managers at other school districts throughout Texas."

Shaw added that there had been some concern about WiFi penetrating older sand-filled cinderblock walls on campus, but that concern has proved unfounded.

Dawson ISD employs 58 teachers, administrators, and staff members and serves students in one elementary school and one combination junior high and high school.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .