Vermont Business Magazine Students affected by school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic now have access to free high-speed wireless Internet and Google Chromebooks, thanks in part to collaborative efforts by Rutland City Public Schools, Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) and Ericsson.
"As we watched COVID-19 impact other countries, we began to develop a plan to support our students, just in case. We were uneasy because so many of our families are in poverty, with close to 70 percent of our students receiving free or reduced lunch. Equity of access would determine our success or failure if schools were to close, and we are committed to providing a world-class education to all of our students," said Patricia Aigner, Director of Technology, Rutland City Public Schools. "The biggest hurdle to successful online instruction is the lack of connectivity faced by families across the city. We are fortunate that Vermont Telephone and Ericsson stepped up to provide Internet to so many of our families, and our educational community is excited that we can connect more children to their teachers. This partnership is providing expanded access to our families to ensure students' continued education and overall welfare."
In less than ten days, VTel and its sister company VTel Wireless, in collaboration with Ericsson, mobilized quickly to deploy and install next-generation 4G/5G wireless radios and antennas on a building in downtown Rutland. These actions, combined with delivering wireless modems and routers to homes, allowed students to receive free Internet service immediately.
"One of our biggest challenges moving to online learning is making sure all our kids had Internet access at home. Many districts are facing this challenge, and we can't thank Vermont Telephone and Ericsson enough for helping bring Internet to families in Rutland. Through this partnership, we can continue to serve our kids and community," said Dan Roswell, Network Administrator, Rutland City Public Schools.
"Moving to remote learning requires students have access to the Internet, and we know the work Ericsson is doing is critical to many rural communities like Rutland," said Rob Johnson, Head of Customer Unit Regional Carriers for Ericsson North America. "We're proud to partner with the operator community to bring connectivity to rural America and connect the unconnected."
Dr. Michel Guité, founder of Vermont Telephone Company, said: "We're all seeing the same grim news, leaving some to feel even hopelessness. But in Vermont we're trying our best to be optimistic. As an essential business, our 15 trucks are visiting rural Vermont homes on a daily basis to solve problems. We're delivering free wired and wireless Internet to kids without Internet wherever we can. In Rutland, we took it a step further by implementing an immediate upgrade, using our 5G spectrum, to ensure students of Rutland who may not have access to Internet could receive some of the fastest unlimited wireless Internet in America. We are deeply optimistic that American ingenuity and determination will help alleviate some of the burdens brought forth by this COVID-19 pandemic."
Arianna Robinson, Chief Technology Officer for VTel and VTel Wireless, said: "We've been in a race against time to get fastest wireless Internet out there, to Rutland families in need, and we know we'll find glitches, but we're today recording wireless speeds to many Rutland homes well above 100 Mbps, in some cases over 300 Mbps, and with new 5G devices later this year we should be seeing speeds even higher."
Rutland City Public Schools will be delivering Google Chromebooks to students during breakfast and lunch deliveries currently through school bus routes for efficiency and those lacking in transportation. Students' Chromebooks will automatically connect to the Internet when it's turned on.
ABOUT VERMONT TELEPHONE COMPANY AND VTEL WIRELESS
Vermont Telephone Company, Inc., Springfield, VT, known locally as VTel, is a small family-owned rural telephone company providing landline service to 14 Vermont villages, as well as 4G LTE wireless service to thousands of homes throughout rural parts of the state. Some southern Vermont farms and families have received continuous telephone service from VTel's network since 1890, and VTel provided the phone line that enabled Calvin Coolidge to be sworn in as US President, at Plymouth Notch, VT, on August 3, 1923. VTel was first in Vermont to offer Internet in 1995, first in Vermont to build gigabit-per-second internet over fiber to homes in 2001, and first in America to build a 100% 4G LTE wireless with VoLTE. VTel's 1,400 mile optical fiber network from Vermont to New York, Boston, and Montreal, proudly serves some of the most distinguished universities and research institutions in the world including Dartmouth, MIT, and McGill. The company has answered over a million customer phone calls on the first ring during the past decade, and its longtime motto is World Class Technology with Down Home Service.
ABOUT RUTLAND CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT
The Rutland City Public School District in Vermont, serves our upbeat, picturesque and supportive community. Rutland City Public Schools gains its inspiration from serving more than 2200 students and their families at the base of the western Green Mountains in the center of Vermont. RCPS is the predominant district of choice among surrounding towns who tuition their secondary students to our high school. The school district supports the growth of the city of Rutland and the surrounding communities. Rutland's citizens are committed to the city's well-being. Rutland Public Schools are integral partners in moving the region forward. We serve our evolving and diverse community, carrying the vision of the Rutland Public Schools: Rutland City Public Schools cultivates a passionate, diverse, and resilient community of critical thinkers who learn with purpose, create innovative and responsible solutions, and lead lives of integrity. Every student, every day!
Ericsson enables communications service providers to capture the full value of connectivity. The company's portfolio spans Networks, Digital Services, Managed Services, and Emerging Business and is designed to help our customers go digital, increase efficiency and find new revenue streams. Ericsson's investments in innovation have delivered the benefits of telephony and mobile broadband to billions of people around the world. The Ericsson stock is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm and on Nasdaq New York. www.ericsson.com
SOURCE RUTLAND, Vt., March 31, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Ericsson http://www.ericsson.com