Digital Divide Solutions

Nokia Finishes Phase 1 of Private FWA Network at Rural California District

Nokia today announced it and partner AggreGateway have completed the first of two deployment phases in providing broadband access via 4G Fixed Wireless Access technology to underserved students in the Dos Palos Oro Loma school district of California.

The district, in the predominantly rural San Joaquin Valley in California, has five campuses serving about 2,400 students. The Nokia project will provide secure, fast connectivity to every student’s home “using Nokia Private 4.9G/LTE Digital Automation Cloud (NDAC) operating in the CBRS/On-Go GAA spectrum, and customer premises equipment (CPE) including Nokia FastMile 4G Gateways and WiFi Beacons,” according to a news release.

The Dos Palos Oro Loma technology team will manage its new LTE network through a secure Nokia DAC Cloud monitoring application, Nokia said, and the school IT staff will provision LTE / WiFi hotspots to students as needed so they can access the internet using any standard laptop or tablet.

The Federal Communications Commission has said that nearly 17 million K–12 students in the United States lack internet access at home, creating a nationwide “homework gap.” The digital divide grew more pronounced during the pandemic as schools were forced to teach virtually and many rural schools — where commercial internet service is not seen by the market as viable — had we options for connecting their students who didn't have broadband at home. 

“As we put a plan in place for distance learning during the pandemic, we found we could only provide coverage for approximately 50% of DPOL students via commercial wireless network providers,” said Paoze Lee, Technology Systems Director of the Dos Palos Oro Loma school district. “Working with Nokia and AggreGateway, we are taking the next steps to level the field and ensure every student has the same access to our learning facilities.”

The first phase of the deployment was completed in November 2021, Nokia said, and the remainder will be finished this year. Working on the local design and installation of the new equipment was San Diego-based AggreGateway, a group of network and wireless engineers whose emphasis is designing networks specifically within government and education as well as other sectors.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].