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Saturday July 4th, 2015 8:15PM

Habersham schools receiving upgraded wireless service

By Rob Moore Reporter
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CLARKESVILLE - A wireless technology upgrade that essentially would enable BYOD (bring your own device) learning in Habersham County schools will begin soon.

The Habersham County Board of Education this week accepted the low bid of $262,1534.18 from A3 Communications, as recommended by Technology Director Dennis Unbehant. The bid includes the $3,844.64 upgrade to support large meetings, with up to 250 Internet connections, in the high school auditorium.

Superintendent Matthew Cooper explained the need for the equipment upgrade.

"At the high school, for example, the wireless network we have has very limited capabilities as far as the number of users that can log on to it," Cooper said. "That's not good when you have a high school as large as our high school is. So that's a concern right off the bat - just the sheer number of potential users.

"The second thing would be the BYOD - that's bring your own device," Cooper said.

Cooper said a lot of students have electronic devices but may not have a data plan.

"Many, many students have these devices at home, so if they bring those devices to school they can log onto our network that's capable of handling multiple users," Cooper said.

"It's channeling the purpose, making an educational use out of these devices that they already have," Cooper said.

Cooper said the upgrade also would help with telephone issues currently experienced in some of the county's schools.

"Dennis tells us we cannot upgrade these phone systems until this wireless upgrade is complete, so all of that is on hold," Cooper said. "Our phone systems in our schools are dependent upon this."

The current wireless system in place at the high school will be distributed to other schools in the system to improve service there.

The Cisco hardware approved comes with a lifetime warranty, while the Panduit cabling includes a 25-year warranty. Labor and workmanship has a one-year warranty, Unbehant said.

Other bids, including the upgrade, included:

* $279,010.50 from Progressive Communications;

* $299,364 from Omega Technology Group;

* $308,415.24 from IT Transport Group; and

* $436,861.89 from Darwin TC Group.
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