LA community colleges open up wifi hotspots

By Jonathan Bermudez

All Los Angeles Community College campus may now provide WiFi hotspots at their parking spaces. The LACCD has received the green light from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to provide WiFi hotspots on campus parking lots.
Interim President Albert J. Roman plans to work with the district to figure out what parking structure to use for the hotspots.
“For East Los Angeles College we’re looking at parking lot four,” Roman said. He is also looking to get hotspots at the South Gate campus because he recognizes that there is a large population of students who would benefit from the hotspots.
“I would ideally like to open it up for all students, not only for those that have cars, but we have to make sure we are able to do that and get it cleared by the LA County Department of Public Health,” Roman said.
Romans’s idea is to set up canopies with tables and chairs with appropriate social distancing to allow walk-ins as well. However, he is unsure if the county would allow that.
He recognizes that it would be hard for some students to get to campus, so plans to give out hotspots to take home.
“We’re working with the college foundation to be able to provide some funding so that we can actually purchase hotspots for students based upon need and actually loan those out for the remainder of the year,” Roman said.
He knows that opening up hotspots in parking lots is not the only solution. Roman acknowledges that there is a digital divide among students and wants to help all students.
“We know there is a bandwidth issue, so if we have too many people tapping into the network it could significantly slow it down to a point where it’s not going to be very effective,” Roman said.
He wants the students to come first when opening up the hotspots but if there is enough coverage for the community then it will open to the community.
Roman plans to make it the sign-in system for the internet as it used to be on campus so it is easier for students. He also said there would be no time limit for students to use the hotspots. There would be a time limit as to the hours that area would be opened.
He wants to open up regular hours with some additional time in the evening because he knows there are students that take late classes.
“My priority would be to open it as many hours as possible because we know working adults, working students that may not be able to come during the day, and they have evening classes where they’re going to need the WiFi,” Roman said.
The idea of the parking lots was something that came to mind when he noticed that students were struggling with internet access.
Roman waited for a while to get the green light from the district and the county and sought other ways to provide services to students.
The school provided a $300 voucher to students through the Cares Act for students to purchase a Chromebook or internet.
Roman knows that it wasn’t enough and realizes that the internet could be costly and wanted to open up the hotspots sooner.

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