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Schools, businesses working to expand Preston County broadband

KINGWOOD — Both educators and business leaders are working to improve Prestonians’ access to affordable high-speed Internet.

“We’re working on writing a grant to the state,” to improve Internet access for students, Preston Superintendent Steve Wotring told the board of education last week.

Preston Schools Assistant Superintendent Brad Martin said the State Department of Education has recommended some avenues to pursue for grants to improve Internet access for students.

“I’ve been in some discussions with T-Mobile Sprint,” Martin said. “They have a program which would offer Internet service for $23 per month and access to a hot spot with unlimited data.”

But, there’s a caveat.

“That is, it has to be an area that has 4G coverage for T-Mobile Sprint. Preston County has actually relatively good coverage from T-Mobile Sprint with the exception there are some sections of southern Preston County that are still going to be problematic for us,” Martin said.

In those area, they are working with vendors about possibly putting up some Wi-Fi hot spots.

Prodigi and Atlantic Broadband are available in some of those areas, Martin said. County schools are trying to work out public access areas, hot spots and some Internet packages in those areas.

“We’re going to seek funding for that through the CARES Act,” Martin said.

“So hopefully we’ll be able to get some offerings to parents that will have some very low-cost unlimited data opportunities for them that we can get more kids connected, which will benefit them all in the long run,” Wotring said.

Last year Prodigi, a local company, received a USDA grant to expand broadband in northern Preston County.

When schools were closed by the governor in March, Prodigi helped students by establishing eight free Wi-Fi spots.

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