The Chromezone launched a mobile hotspot program at the end of the third quarter to connect students with free wifi at home.
“We want to talk about how you close what’s called the homework gap. Everyone has access to a computer, and they have free access to internet here at the school… but the reality is that we have a lot of our students that have one in the morning needing to work on something. So how do we make sure that every student, every family, has access to the internet at home?” IIT Director David Chan explained.
Mobile hotspots are devices about the size of a cell phone which enable up to six devices to connect to wifi.
“[Students] could bring it home, they could use it with their family. We know families sometimes need to access the internet to pay bills, to look for jobs, to surf the internet, to watch Netflix as well, whatever- to do the things that many of us take for granted. The hotspot is a device that essentially replaces your cable modem and wifi router into one,” Chan said.
Funding for 50 new mobile hotspots came from a program through T-Mobile. The IIT department ideally hopes to include funding for mobile hotspots as part of their yearly budget in the future.
“It’s an award through T-Mobile that gives us access to significantly reduced pricing on mobile hotspots, including unlimited plans for those hotspots,” Chan said.
Previously, the Chromezone had 15 hotspots through the Evanston Public Library, but they came with more restrictions.
“You needed a library card, you need to be 16 or older or otherwise you need parent permission or their library card, you could only check out for 28 days,” Chan explained. “There were some hurdles or obstacles for students. We want to lower that barrier to receive a hotspot.”
Students can check out one of the new 50 hotspots for one quarter at a time. As of the middle of April, only about half of the hotspots were checked out.
Any student interested in acquiring a mobile hotspot can visit the Chomezone for more information.