Broadband industry looking for student input

Many people across the country experience internet issues especially with the increased use of the internet to communicate and learn. Broadband is one of the main components needed to connect to the internet. Broadband is a wide bandwidth data transmission that transports signals at a range of frequencies and different internets that enables connection with the internet. 

Those who want to learn more about broadband and what Iowa is doing to help students may want to join SYBAC, a Statewide Youth Broadband Advisory Council funded and organized by the Iowa Communications Network. 

SYBAC mentor Lori Larsen said, “The Iowa Communications Network (ICN) established the Statewide Youth Broadband Advisory Council (SYBAC)  program as a way to engage Iowa high school students on technology issues. The students are given the opportunity to learn about state initiatives and educational opportunities, in addition to sharing their opinions.” 

Students who participate in SYBAC will learn about the importance of cyber security and how to keep their information online safe.  The participants may also learn about how the information and internet is being protected in Iowa.  “I would like to encourage any high school student to apply. It is a great opportunity to learn about Iowa’s technology landscape and the importance of technology within your community,” Larsen said. The members meet once a month on the second Tuesday of each month. They will have a video conference from 2-3 p.m. so students may have to miss class.  

Environmental science teacher Jason Lang said, “My parents live in rural Iowa where high speed internet isn’t really available. They’ve had three pathways. The first pathway is internet through Dish Network, and it was costly and inconsistent. A second provider called Hughes Net was tried, and the same thing happened with inconsistent service and expensive [service], so now they use a hotspot on US cellular. That is their wireless internet.”  

He continued, “They and all of their neighbors do not have access to high speed internet, which leads to poor video calls and the highest speed they can operate at is 4G or lower, so many of their Zoom calls will be choppy and video and audio breakups is as good as it gets.”

Students in rural Iowa who have to take online courses also have some problems with their internet. Lang said, “Their only option was through their phones, so the only way to access the internet was through a hotspot through their phones. I know that there were some schools that helped families pay for their hotspot to allow students to access the internet.”

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