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School Bus Wi-Fi Rolling Out in Increasing Numbers
January 12, 2015

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School bus wi-fi is gaining in popularity.

One of the latest schools to enact a mobile Internet connection aboard its student-transporting buses is West Shores High School, in Salton City, Calif. A bus that transports students in Salton City, 65 miles north of the Mexico-U.S. border, now carries a router, mounted behind an mirror inside the bus. Onboard, the students, many of whom come from low-income families, have Internet access that they wouldn't necessarily have at home.

At night, the bus is parked near a mobile home park and the router is left on. Students and their families in the surrounding area can access the hotspot until the router's battery runs out (in some cases just one hour).

The West Shores bus is one of two wired buses in the Coachella Valley Unified District. The other few dozen buses will be equipped as funds allow.

The Coachella Valley district is following in the footsteps of other schools across the U.S. The idea has been particularly popular in districts whose students spend one to two hours a day on a school bus. Many schools across the country have secured funding for providing students with laptops, but many students have Internet access only at school.

The Vail district in Arizona outfitted embarked on a similar program in 2010, installing as well a content filter that would block the same kinds of content that the school building-based networks would block. Another rural district in North Carolina followed suit, emphasizing that the school buses were used for transporting students to sporting and artistic events as well as for going to and from school every day. Another district in rural Texas equipped buses travelling on the district's four longest routes with two routers, which combined to make a stronger signal for students to use.

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