First-of-its-kind Pilot Collaboration Keeps Omaha Students Connected While They Roam

Cox Communications, in collaboration with Internet2 and Network Nebraska through the ConnectEd Nebraska program, announced today a first-of-its-kind pilot initiative to expand eduroam access for participating K-12 schools across the Omaha metro area. With the eduroam global Wi-Fi access service and an expanded network of hotspots in community spaces, students will be able to obtain internet connections across the metro area even when visiting locations outside their day-to-day school campuses.

“Network Nebraska is excited to have our first partners to help tackle the homework gap. As the largest metropolitan district in the state, and this agreement can positively impact not only tens of thousands of students in the Omaha area, but also across the state as students from outside the metro travel to the city and its surrounding communities,” said Rebecca Kingery, Education IT Manager from the Nebraska Office of the Chief Information Officer and program manager for Network Nebraska. “We at Network Nebraska are hopeful this agreement will continue our positive progress and allow for continued growth in our support of Nebraska students.”

The ConnectEd Nebraska Program was piloted in 2021 by Network Nebraska as one of several eduroam Support Organizations across the U.S. aiming to improve student connectivity by offering eduroam to public and private K-12 schools. Network Nebraska has since enrolled 163 schools, representing 68% of public-school districts. As of today, the ConnectEd Nebraska Program is available to all Network Nebraska members, representing over 99% of the public school districts as well as private school entities in the state.

“The growing presence of eduroam in K-12 schools and surrounding communities is narrowing the digital divide and empowering students with expanded access to educational resources – even beyond school campuses,” said Ann West, associate vice president for Trust and Identity at Internet2, which operates eduroam in the U.S. and manages the eduroam Support Organizations program. “Ubiquitous, secure, and seamless Wi-Fi connectivity anywhere students gather to engage and learn is the goal. New initiatives led by the research and education community and industry providers like Cox are supporting that momentum, highlighting the true value of eduroam that increases with its ubiquity.”

With new access to eduroam at more than 600 Cox Wi-Fi hotspots across the Omaha metro area, students will be able to maintain secure roaming internet service across large portions of the education community and public spaces. That includes eduroam access already available through Internet2’s service and the eduroam Support Organizations program at many K-12 schools, colleges, universities, libraries, museums, and other community anchor institutions, along with new access via Cox Wi-Fi hotspots at healthcare facilities, business parking lots, grocery stores, outdoor spaces, and other locations.

“Connectivity is at the heart of everything we do, students having access to a reliable network across multiple campuses is why this is a valued collaboration between Cox, Internet2, and Network Nebraska,” said Kim Rowell, vice president, Cox Communications.

In the last 10 years, Cox has invested more than $19 billion in network and product upgrades to deliver powerful high-speed residential internet, TV, phone, home security and automation services, as well as business broadband offerings such as its cloud and edge computing services.

Creating digital equity in underserved and rural communities is a key initiative in Cox’s multibillion-dollar annual network investment. In addition to this pilot collaboration, which will run through June 2024, Cox is working to address specific community objectives to reach more unserved and underserved communities through improved internet access and adoption.