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Forsyth commissioners discuss student internet access
Intergovernmental agreement would bring Wi-Fi to homes without
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NORTH FORSYTH -- A program proposed to county commissioners may provide internet access to Forsyth County students living in homes without Wi-Fi.

Forsyth County commissioners voted 5-0 during a recent work session to approve $10,000 to move forward with a possible agreement between the Board of Education that would help some students and their families access the internet.

Marty Bray, chief technology and information officer for Forsyth County Schools, said the plan is to use a school in north Forsyth as a base.

“What we are attempting, or would like to do, is create a pilot project using Chestatee Elementary [School] as a hub to reach more of our children who don’t have internet access at home,” Bray said.

The technology used in the project converts “white space,” or broadcast frequencies, between very high frequency and ultra-high frequency into a spectrum that can access the Internet.

Bray said the internet provided by the service could also be used by the family of students but that it would be filtered for “family friendly access.”

The service does has a limited reach, though the county is hoping to install hardware to expand coverage.

“It has about a 10-kilometer reach within that home base,” Bray said. “Then what we would do is target specific areas like mobile home parks, residential areas and parks and rec [facilities]. We would put a decoder out on a power pole that would convert that white space spectrum into standard Wi-Fi that can’t reach that 10-kilometer area.”

If all goes well, the plan will eventually partner with other county groups and have its own managing agency.

“Ultimately my hope is that we could work with the library so that any citizen in the county would have access to that,” Bray said. “What we would anticipate doing initially is just try that out with the students and homes.”

The commission will next discuss the agreement at their Oct. 11 work session.