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Wireless Network Creating “Swath of Connectivity” for Michigan City Students

Students using Chromebooks
Wireless Network Creating “Swath of
Connectivity” for Michigan City Students
MCAS, Neo Networks Expand Free Broadband Initiative

MICHIGAN CITY, IN – March 18, 2022 — Michigan City Area Schools, in partnership with Neo
Network Development, has entered Phase 2 of a comprehensive project providing free wireless
broadband internet access to a growing number of its students.

Funding for the wireless broadband project has been made possible by a $600,000 grant from the
Indiana Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER).

Recently, a 60-foot pole and wireless equipment were installed at Knapp Elementary School,
providing free wireless internet service to all MCAS-owned devices at approximately 300 homes
within a one-mile radius of the school. In order to access the service, families in the area will be
issued a free, pre-configured router that plugs into a standard home electrical outlet. The router will
enable school Chromebooks and tablets to access the internet and can be kept in the home until all
students residing at that address have left the MCAS district. 

This week, MCAS contacted 65 households in grades PreK-12 living within the immediate coverage
area, offering them the router. Once the functionality and service quality are verified at these homes,
additional families will be contacted. 

“We are encouraging all 65 of these households to take advantage of this free access, even if they
currently have other broadband services,” said Kevin McGuire, MCAS Director of Technology.
“This will increase the internet bandwidth in these homes, enhancing their existing service for other
family members.”

According to McGuire, the wireless equipment at Knapp is the latest to be installed on an MCAS
building, providing “a swath of connectivity” through Michigan City. Wireless Hubs now exist at
Knapp, the Elston Building, and the Administration Building, all providing free broadband to
school-issued devices. The service limits access to streaming and video game outlets, to ensure that
students are using the network to complete school-related tasks.

Work continues to improve performance and optimize the network. McGuire says that once this is
complete, close to 1,500 households with MCAS students will be served.

Neo Networks CEO Vince Aragona describes the MCAS project as a hybrid LTE/fiber network that
utilizes existing MCAS owned fiber, internet, and MCAS facilities. “The MCAS project is a case-
study example of how innovative K-12 school districts and their IT teams can leverage their assets
and infrastructure to deliver fast, reliable, in-home connectivity for students and staff,” he said.

“School districts and public-sector agencies across the country are spending billions in taxpayer
funds annually on temporary broadband subsidies or short-term options that never really solve the
broadband access or affordability problem. Our Neighborhood Networks program represents the
most cost-effective and affordable way to permanently bridge the digital divide and the affordability
gap for any K-12 school district.”

MCAS was poised to transition to virtual learning from the onset of pandemic, due to the district's
comprehensive 1:1 technology program, which ensured all teachers and students had devices in
hand. MCAS also provided “hotspots” to those in the most need who lacked internet access. Moving
forward, however, MCAS plans to continue partnering with Neo Networks to add more wireless Hub
locations in hopes of providing connectivity for all MCAS students at no cost to their families.

“Our company provided a turnkey solution for this project, including design, technology selection,
installation, testing, activation, and customer support,” said David Wojcik, VP of Business
Development for Neo Networks. “Most people don’t realize the massive potential for building out
these private LTE networks utilizing the CBRS spectrum. Broadband access is only one of many
potential applications, including security cameras, utility monitoring, mobility, and more. Everyone
deserves broadband access.” 

“Reliable internet continues to be our largest hurdle when it comes to virtual learning,” McGuire
said, estimating that 10 percent of the MCAS student body lacks quality, affordable broadband
service. “Today’s students need internet access not only for eLearning days, but also to complete
homework assignments, to apply for colleges and scholarships, and much more.”

Dave Wocjik and Kevin McGuire distribute routers at Knapp School

David Wocjik (L) and Kevin McGuire distribute routers at Knapp School