CCPS announces network program

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS), in a social media post on Jan. 31, announced that students in Charlotte County may be eligible to have free educational internet access through the Microsoft Home Network.

The program, brought about by a partnership between Microsoft and South Boston-based Mid-Atlantic Broadband (MBC), uses a technology called TV white space (TVWS) to offer home internet service.

“This project is fully funded by Microsoft, MBC and the Virginia Tobacco Commission, so there is no charge to the family for the equipment, equipment installation or internet service,” the post cited. “Other partners of the project include B2X Online (wireless internet service provider in charge of installation and technical support for this project), Adaptrum (TVWS equipment manufacturer) and Charlotte County Public Schools.”

The Microsoft website cited that the program is free for a limited time.

A 2016 Gazette report cited that interested families will be required to install the proper equipment at home to receive the service.

Microsoft announced in July 2017 that the TV white space projects in Charlotte and Halifax counties have been deemed pilots for the proposed additions of two million broadband connections across the country in rural areas by July 2022. As reported in the July 2017 Gazette the company, along with Mid-Atlantic Broadband Corporation, is activating the largest homework network within the country, which had started in Charlotte and Halifax.“We’re proud that Charlotte County is one of the two in the pilot program,” said Chairman and County Seat Supervisor Gary Walker at a July 2017 meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors.The network has been successfully piloted in 100 households across both counties and will reach more than 3,000 students in 1,000 homes by the end of 2017. Students will have free access to their schools’ online networks where assignments and education resources are posted, extending their learning time beyond the school day.

Claire Locke, with CCPS, said she has had the network program since March 2017.

“B2X handled the delivery of the service,” Locke said. “The technician with B2X installed a small antenna on the exterior of our house. From that, a cable was installed to a router inside the house. The router supplies a strong signal throughout the house. The speed of the internet is fast enough for streaming without any buffering.”

She said the experience with the network has been positive.

“In an area when cellular signals are weak, this service is amazing,” Locke said. “Students will definitely benefit from being able to utilize online services at home. I’ve heard from people throughout the county who have been very impressed with it, as well.”

She noted there had been a period where she had been without service. Locke said she had waited for the issue to resolve itself, and after contacting the B2X company, she said the issue was resolved.

Locke noted a free and paid version of the home network program.

“For the free version, customers need to understand that limited websites are available,” Locke said. “With the paid version, customers need to be prepared to provide additional safeguards to protect their children from the dangers of the internet.”To learn more about the program or to find out if a student’s home is in reach of the network, visit www.tvwsvirginia. com or call (434) 570- 1315.