Networking & Wireless

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Launches Wireless Hotspot Project

When school begins Aug. 29 for students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), some of them will be able to borrow wireless hotspots from five branches of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in order to gain access to the Internet at home.

Sprint will donate 150 wireless hotspots that students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools can use at home. A student can borrow the battery-powered access device — similar to checking out a book — for as many as 30 days at a time.

"Children in households without online access are, increasingly, locked out of learning once school lets out," said Charlotte Mecklenburg Library CEO Lee Keesler. "Giving CMS students the ability to borrow a device that will let them access the Internet from home gives them the freedom to learn whenever they are curious. While this pilot program is limited in scope, it could be a catalyst for future, larger initiatives so that we can ensure no child or family is left behind."

The new program is a component of One Access, a collaboration between Charlotte's library and school system that launched in the fall of 2015. It allows CMS pupils to check out books and electronic resources as well as access library databases by using their student ID cards.

Sprint representatives estimated the cost of the project for the 2016-17 school year will be $288,000. They estimated that 18 percent of households in Charlotte are not equipped with Internet access. The district has 146,000 students in 168 schools, meaning as many as many as 26,000 may not be able to use their computers to study and do homework after school.

For Sprint, its participation in One Access is part of a larger two-year initiative that has provided wireless broadband connectivity to 50,000 low-income K-12 students around the United States, at a reported in-kind value of $100 million.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.