Innovation in the face of digital exclusion
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a coalition of eight universities, research groups, nonprofit organizations and school districts have put in place a pilot Every1online programme to provide free WiFi to school children in digitally-excluded households. A tower on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh will use high power radios to transmit a signal to repeater towers placed in each of three target areas. The repeater towers in turn send it to coffee mug-sized receivers installed outside of participating homes, which in turn connects to an indoor WiFi router.
NI - state investment
The NI Departments for the Economy and of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs announced a £165m broadband improvement contract under 'Project Stratum'. The contract was awarded to Fibrus Networks Ltd.
Charity and private sector
Disability Action NI has led a National Emergencies Trust initiative to provide laptops to people with disabilities during the pandemic, one of several aimed at helping people to combat isolation. Vodafone announced a new ‘Vodafone schools.connected support’ programme which it claimed would give free internet access to 250,000 children across the UK. Head teachers have been asked to apply the 3-month 30GB data SIMs to use as hotspots for laptops on behalf of pupils who lack online access.