Rutland City students to get free high-speed wireless internet and Google Chromebooks

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RUTLAND — 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, VTel, and Ericsson.

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.

“As we watched COVID-19 impact other countries, we began to develop a plan to support our students, just in case,” said Patricia Aigner, Director of Technology, Rutland City Public Schools. “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.”

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.

“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,” Arianna Robinson, Chief Technology Officer for VTel and VTel Wireless said.