Internet

Issue of internet access for students discussed in meeting with Rep. Cuellar

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During a community meeting with Congressman Henry Cuellar, people discussed how having little to know access to highspeed internet for students has affected them during the pandemic, and a member of the audience spoke out regarding her family’s situation in El Cenizo.

The issue of no internet signals in rural areas of the region was said to be chaos for everyone. With all students mandated to return to remote learning for the remainder of the week, the issue can affect a student’s learning capabilities without proper and guaranteed internet access.

The struggling audience member said the issues were repeated disconnects and the limited range of the provided internet service, which forces her and her children to work outside in the sun. She also claimed that residents have additional issues regarding signal strength.

The audience member continued to say that after UISD was alerted to the situation, district staff told her that the situation would be fixed, but that has not been the case. She added that she will once again call the office of technology to demand a solution to her problem.


During the meeting, it was stated that an analysis of the situation in her area would be initiated to find a way to fix the issue. Despite distribution of the MiFi Devices and WiFi buses in remote areas, covering every UISD home has proven difficult.

As of the Jan. 28 Technology update during a UISD board meeting, the district has secured 40 internet buses for rural areas and has secured 3,000 MiFi devices. However, with hotspot usage dependent on nearby cell towers, it is difficult for families to receive the signal despite having the MiFi.

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“We are limited to what we can do since cellular companies have not invested in more cell towers in the area,” UISD said in a statement. “Tto expand internet coverage, we have provided outside access points in our schools so that students can log in outside the campus, and there are community centers that offer internet access as well.”

Cuellar said that additional funds are available for both school districts, and the city and will be working on finding where the majority of the funds are being allocated. He claimed that state government has taken too long to allocate the majority of the funds to address COVID-19 issues.

Approximately 80% of funds can be used to fix internet issues, however, management of said funds falls onto the city government’s responsibility.

Despite the attempted reasurrance, the concerned mother explained that each day her children are lagging behind due to the internet issues. She said that if the situation remains the same, her child will inevitably fail this school year.

It was stated that the solution falls on the shoulders of internet carriers, but Cuellar announced that there will be a discussion to see if it is possible to use U.S. Border Patrol towers to provide internet to rural communities.

cocampo@lmtonline.com

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