Just a few days after FCC approved $2 billion funding for bringing internet connectivity to schools, Facebook is starting its own pilot program to bring Wi-Fi to student’s homes.
Under this program, which was announced yesterday, the social networking giant aims to provide free wireless internet access to students living in Rutherford County School district in Forest City, NC. If you are wondering why Facebook chose Forest City for the program, it’s probably because the city houses a large data center of the company.
It’s also interesting to note that the same district had approved an initiative back in 2011 to provide laptops to every one of the 6,000 students in the district. But there was one problem. It was seen that nearly half of the students who got the laptop didn’t have wireless internet connection at home. So, once they got back home, they couldn’t access internet, which defeated the purpose of the initiative.
However, Facebook’s pilot program may solve this problem. Installing Wi-Fi at student’s home would finally give them access to internet all day long, which will help them take full advantage of the laptop that they received. In fact, Facebook knows this problem and has started this pilot program to build on the 1:1 laptop initiative approved by the District officials.
In the initial phase, Facebook is going to install free Wi-Fi’s in around 75 to 100 homes in the neighborhood surrounding the Rutherford Opportunity Center (ROC). In this regard, the company has partnered with PANGAEA, a not for profit organization which provides high speed fiber optic internet services to the county.
A post from the company also says that if the initial phase is successful, the program might soon expand to other areas.
“If the first phase of the pilot which begins today is successful, well work to expand the program to cover more students in the Rutherford County School District. If you’re near the ROC, you can test the program now by joining the free Connect network. Please send any feedback you have to PANGAEA at [email protected].”
However, Facebook hasn’t stated whether this is a country wide program or a part of its Internet.org initiative. The basic aim of the initiative was to bring internet access to those who don’t have it, so this pilot program kind of complements the previous projects undertaken by the company as a part of the internet.org initiative.
While this is probably one of the sensible ways to spend money for the public, Facebook does benefit from this program. After all, a steady internet connection might encourage youngsters to use Facebook more than they usually do.
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