Students in Warren County will soon be able to access high-speed internet via satellite technology, thanks to a pilot program aimed at supporting remote learning through improving internet access, according to information from Warren County Schools and the Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.
Warren County joins Hyde and Swain counties in a pilot program funded through the CARES Act, with additional support from several other N.C. agencies. It allows students to access Starlink internet service through SpaceX.
“Many students in the county are still without high-speed internet service at a time where having that connectivity is especially critical to their success,” stated Delores Pulliam, Warren County Schools Chief Finance Officer, in the written statement. “We hope this pilot will be a much-needed lifeline for our K-12 students and their families.”
Starlink provides high-speed internet service via Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite technology, which BIO has determined could be a viable option to reach residents in remote areas. Through the pilot, school districts will be able to test the feasibility of the service for K-12 students who live in areas with no broadband infrastructure or reliable cellular service.
The pilot is funded by $200,000 in CARES Act Funding from the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) and $64,000 in CARES Act Funding from NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, on behalf of Hometown Strong. This funding will support this initiative in researching, analyzing, and providing recommendations regarding the use of satellite technologies that may help reduce the homework gap as well as improve rural healthcare and further rural economic development.
The Friday Institute at NC State University is leading the CARES Act-funded program, with additional support from the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE), and the Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO). Besides funding, the partners are also assisting the school districts with implementing the “Satellite Internet Technologies for Student Connectivity Pilot,” which will allow students to access Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s (SpaceX) Starlink internet service.
“Our students need high-speed internet to succeed not only in these challenging times but into the future,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “Innovative programs like this pilot with SpaceX can connect students to high-quality internet service to help with remote learning, and we are excited for it to expand.”