California Turning Transit Buses into WiFi Hubs

The California State Transportation Agency, the City of Sacramento, and the Sacramento Regional Transit District or SacRT are teaming up to turn 10 transit buses into free wireless “super-hotspots” in local communities that only have limited high-speed internet access.

[Above photo by the California State Transportation Agency.]

This 60-day proof of concept – designed to support and promote opportunities for distance learning, telework and telehealth – features buses equipped free of charge with technology provided by AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Cradlepoint, Sierra Wireless and Aruba (a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company) to offer high-speed connectivity with a range of up to 1,800 feet.

Photo by the California State Transportation Agency

Buses will provide 3½ hours of wireless broadband service at two locations each day, according to a statement by the project’s sponsors, with hotspot locations and protocols determined in collaboration between the City of Sacramento, Valley Vision, Sacramento Public Library, SacRT, the California State Transportation Agency, and public health officials.

High-need locations will be selected with input from local school districts, community organizations and digital divide research, as well as the ability for users to maintain physical distancing and follow public health guidelines, noted David Kim, secretary of the California State Transportation Agency – adding that the Sacramento Public Library will provide bus parking at its branches and robust online resources for students to access when connected to the WiFi Bus network.

“We’re excited to launch this innovative WiFi Bus project to help close the digital divide and provide vital high-speed internet services to our communities,” he said. “Using transit buses to deliver broadband connectivity is creativity at its very best.”

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