Arlington ISD

Arlington ISD Invests in Fiber Optics; Not Currently Considering Cell Towers for Connectivity

NBCUniversal, Inc.

They hauled out the heavy machines Wednesday at Amos Elementary in the Arlington ISD.

It's the first step to installing new fiber optic cables that can deliver more reliable high-speed internet to schools across the district. 

"As teachers, we know the importance of technology in the classroom and keeping up with our students," said Barbara Brown Morgan, a teacher at the school.

While the faster Wi-Fi gave the students and teachers a lot to celebrate, it's just in the building, not at home.

The pandemic taught us how many students didn't have access to reliable Wi-Fi once they leave school. It was so many that both Dallas and Fort Worth ISDs are erecting cell towers to beam out high-speed internet. 

Arlington is right in between those service areas. If they did the same, you'd have one cell tower network along most of Interstates 20 and 30.

"There are opportunities to partner with Arlington, making sure we can reach our students where they live," said Eric Upchurch, assistant superintendent of technology for Arlington ISD.

He's not ruling out cell towers for Arlington ISD, but more families here have Wi-Fi at home, and they've been able to make things work with hotspots. And they have other benefits. 

"We feel like that works well for us because wherever you take the device, it's going to work. Whether you're at a friend's house, aunt's house or cousin, it's going to work," he said.

Arlington ISD Superintendent Marcello Cavazos agreed. They're going to be cautious about the best way to manage the needs of their students.

"We have a true understanding of who needs the technology at home," Cavazos said. "That's an assessment. We don't believe in the wide distribution and just assume we interact and parents and families and understand the true need."

While cell towers have been the popular choice for many urban districts, it's tougher in large suburbs where the needs are unique. 

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