Rural communities get more access to internet

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

goBEC helping school districts to keep children learning

In rural Missouri, most residents have had an issue or two with consistent internet access.

goBEC has changed the game on a local level with its growing number of subscribers, estimated in July 2019 to be 2,700.

Moreover, goBEC has recently been working with local school districts to help keep students connected with needed internet access, especially through out the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

Laura Holycross, member services coordinator with Barry Electric Cooperative, said free WiFi access has always been in the future planning, but this pandemic definitely expedited the need to move forward.

“We installed the first WiFi extender/antenna on April 15 at Exeter schools, and Wheaton schools was installed May 8,” she said. “We are currently working to install Southwest schools.

“There are no plans at this time for Cassville schools, but we are in constant communication with them if the need arises.”

The WiFi access points cost goBEC about $3,000 per unit, and the units themselves are around $1,500 each.

“Due to the circumstances we were able to complete the work in around two weeks,” Holycross said. “Everything fell into place nicely.”

Holycross said goBEC fully hopes this is something they can build on.

“Our priority is building the strongest most reliable fiber network and then maximizing the use of it in a way that benefits our members and community,” she said. “ Our schools are the future of our community, and by providing students and faculty the access to premium internet, in a time when they don’t have it, has high priority with us.

“We believe rural America is the place to be, and by making and keeping rural education relevant with reliable and affordable fiber internet is a great start. We are proud of goBEC Fiber Network and the lives it is changing.”

The process to get the WiFi access point completed started after the fiber optic cables were ran to the locations.

“Then, a Ruckus T710 AP Wi-Fi Antenna (installed by goBEC Fiber Techs) and its associated power and cabling (installed by BEC linemen) were added,” Holycross said. “For the price, these units have great range, as you can get near maximum speed up to about 150 feet in front of the unit and drops out at about 300 feet. Roughly the size of the BEC parking lot. Each unit is set up with OpenDNS Family Shield which is adult content filtering for the protection of the users.”

The units are usable from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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