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High school district plans WiFi upgrade

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The local high school district is laying the groundwork for what it predicts to be an increasingly wireless future.

Citing the burgeoning use of handheld electronics, such as smart phones and tablet computers like Apple's iPad, Steve Hope of the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District said he hopes to begin installing a next-generation WiFi network on all three district campuses as early as next month.

"What I see happening, at least right now, is that the world is moving toward wireless," said Hope, assistant superintendent of personnel and technology for the district. "I would venture to guess that before too long there will be more wireless connectivity than wired."

In anticipation of a new wireless world, Hope has been working with two local consulting firms, to see which can come up with the best plan for the district. The project is scheduled to begin in December.

The successful contractor will be able to build a network for the district that will allow for very high volumes of wireless traffic -- for both students and teachers -- and at the same time be easily expandable, should the need arise for more bandwidth as student population and use of wireless technology grows.

Hope has told both contractors that the new network must be able to support all normal wireless activity on the high school campuses -- which is already substantial -- while at the same time have the capability to allow an auditorium filled with 300 students "to push the 'enter' button at the same time and get access."

The network would blanket most of each campus, even stretching to parts of the athletic fields.

Demand for such a network is already apparent at district high schools, Hope said. Physical education teachers who have purchased their own iPads have said they would like to be able to use the devices to access the district's digital attendance system out on the football fields; the school's laptops, which teachers may check out for Internet-based activities, are a hot commodity.

The new network may also provide the base for a district-wide voice over Internet protocol -- or VoIP -- phone system. VoIP phones transmit voice data over the Internet, instead of via land lines or cellular towers and satellites. If such a system were installed, teachers would carry hand-held devices, similar in size to cell phones, but would place calls over the district's VoIP network.

Hope said he is not worried about increased wireless bandwidth contributing to greater on-campus distractions. Most students have access to the Internet on cell phones anyway, he noted. In the classroom, teachers are responsible for ensuring students stay focused; and in the hallways and during lunch, students wouldn't be able to do more than what they normally do now, he said.

High school WiFi

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3 people like this
Posted by Eleanor Oak
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Yes, handheld electronics such as smart phones and tablet computers are being used more and more. But there are increasing numbers of epidemiologists, surgeons and scientists warning about the use of these wireless gadgets because they are finding evidence of disease and biological damage. Now doesn't seem to be the right time to be increasing wireless networks in High schools. Perhaps Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District could use wired networks until it is certain that wireless networks cannot cause cancer or damage fertility. Why not take a safety-first approach?

3 people like this
Posted by Karl
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 15, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Was it deliberate or a coincidence that this article ran on the front page beside the article about the tower at the Presbyterian Church. I suspect all these antennas in the schools will put out more power than anyone will get from the Church.

3 people like this
Posted by A Proud Black Man
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm

What we need isn't moar intarnet, what we need is a need to have less phone use during the times of school because the most of our Mountain View High School using cell phones between 60 and 75% of a given day, any day.

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