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Kajeet, Google Partner on Private Wi-Fi Networks for Schools

The Virginia-based wireless software and hardware company is deploying its private 5G platform on Google Distributed Cloud Edge, potentially lowering costs for schools to build and maintain their own wireless networks.

5G Internet
A Virginia-based company this week announced a partnership with Google, aiming to help close the digital divide by making it easier for school districts to build and maintain their own private networks.

Kajeet, which makes hardware and software for enterprise Wi-Fi networks, said in a news release that it is deploying its private 5G platform on the Google Distributed Cloud Edge. It said the ultimate goal of the partnership is to get students connected who are currently unable to access high-quality wireless Internet, thereby allowing them to use digital learning tools like Google’s Chromebook and Classroom EDU solutions.

Citing a White House report that said more than 30 million Americans live in areas where broadband infrastructure is lacking, the news release said Kajeet's service will not only be for K-12 school districts but also neighboring communities, library systems, community colleges and universities.

Derrick Frost, Kajeet's senior VP of private wireless networks, said in a public statement that the partnership with Google will give clients the ability to maintain their own private connectivity and data while enjoying the benefits of being hosted on a public cloud.

“Google Distributed Cloud helps us realize economies of scale in a common environment encompassing private networks at the edge, a private data center and the public cloud," he said. "It enables us to deliver a consistent set of security, life cycle management, policy and orchestration of resources across all customer locations."

In an interview with Government Technology, Frost said the partnership with Google has been in the works for the past year. The company, which Frost said has been providing public Wi-Fi software and hardware for school districts the past two decades and currently serves more than 2,500 districts in the U.S., is in the process of planning and designing several private 5G networks using Google Distributed Cloud Edge for school districts that will launch later this year. Frost said the plan is to build an open source platform, integrated with several Google solutions, so students and schools anywhere can take advantage of the latest digital tools.

“As we launch our private wireless business, we're able to bring all of those capabilities that we built in the public wireless space and now combine them into a solution where a school district can essentially build and own their own network,” Frost told Government Technology. “(Kajeet works) with them to build the radio access network, design it and lay it out in the school district, to be able to make sure it's got the optimal design. ... It’s bringing our strengths and capabilities together to be able to offer school districts across the country end-to-end solutions to be able to support their connectivity needs as they evolve."

Google Cloud Director of Education Steven Butschi said in a public statement that the new partnership for secure private 5G “can deliver affordable access to high-quality Internet to level the playing field and improve education outcomes.”

To date, Kajeet has mostly deployed end-to-end vendor solutions in which the company would take another vendor’s solution and platform and send that out to a customer or school, Frost said, while this new platform is creating a Kajeet-run open source platform. The company has issued roughly 40 private wireless setups in the early stages, according to Frost, and the hope is to create a “turnkey” network complemented by Chromebooks and Google tech. With many companies offering up similar solutions, Frost said Kajeet's focus, and specifically the offering through the Google partnership, is lowering cost to get the service in as many school districts as possible.

“What we're able to do is now take this open source solution that's been developed primarily for enterprise-type customers and be able to dramatically change the economics associated with it,” Frost said. “So we can provide a solution that allows school districts and communities across the country that are looking to close the digital divide, to have access to advanced 5G technology at a much lower cost than what they would typically get if they were going through usual telecom vendors and providers.”
Giovanni Albanese Jr. is a staff writer for the Center for Digital Education. He has covered business, politics, breaking news and professional soccer over his more than 15-year reporting career. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Salem State University in Massachusetts.