ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Internet access is a challenge for many students learning remotely. Now, the City of Albuquerque is teaming up with Central New Mexico Community College graduates to help out and build mobile internet trailers. “You can roll this around really anywhere in the city and you can set up a mobile hotspot,” Brian Rashap, Educator of CNM Ingenuity’s Internet of Things bootcamp, said.
According to APS, at least 20% of its district has reported having difficulties getting wifi. “Especially during COVID-19 right now, obviously there’s a lot of students that can’t get to wifi. They’ve got the computers, they just can’t get onto the internet,” Mark Leech, Deputy Director of the city’s Dept. of Technology and Innovation, said.
The city commissioned CNM Ingenuity’s Internet of Things bootcamp to help. Three graduates of the program spent eight weeks building two mobile internet trailers. “What we’ve been able to do with these smaller trailers is get into neighborhoods and get into areas of public housing perhaps that we weren’t able to get into before,” Leech said.
“There’s [sic] three solar panels that collect the energy, then gets funneled through to the batteries, and then powers through the smart cone here,” Nycole Davila, a graduate who worked on the trailer, said. The trailer then connects with T-Mobile cellular towers for internet access.
For Davila, the project is personal. “Mainly because I have one sister that works in the hospital. My other sister is an APS teacher. So, if I can just do something to help them and make their lives easier during this time, [I’m] absolutely willing to do it,” she said.
Over the next few weeks, the trailer will be tested at the city’s Pino Yards site to see how it operates new buildings and trees. “We’ll walk around the yard and make sure we have a wide range of connectivity, good bandwidth with the internet, and that we do get that 24-hour a day internet capability,” Rashap said.
If successful, the city may hire a local company to build a fleet of mobile trailers based on the CNM graduates’ prototype. The cost of the two prototypes was $10,650 and was paid for by city funds. More information is available on CNM’s website.