New Mexico DOT Steps in to Assist in Broadband Expansion The state Department of Transportation is exploring ways to update fiber optic infrastructure during road construction. The pandemic has put special focus on connectivity gaps in the state and across the country.
(TNS) — Vulnerabilities in New Mexico's Internet infrastructure, revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic, led the New Mexico Department of Transportation to assist with the expansion of rural broadband.
“The pandemic forced New Mexico to rely heavily on Internet access, making broadband even more essential,” Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval said. “Digital expansion has been a passion project of the department for a while, but the urgent need for telecommuting, distance learning and telemedicine has fueled the drive to make Internet access for every New Mexican a reality.”
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is exploring ways to update fiber optic infrastructure during road construction, a state Department of Transportation news release states.
“As existing roads are reconstructed, there’s an opportunity to install fiber conduit while the road is torn up, so you’re not digging twice, which minimizes the impact on the environment,” Sandoval said.
“Building both literal and digital highways will provide innovative, sustainable infrastructure that serves the entire state.”
DOT partnered with the New Mexico Economic Development Department to conduct a broadband infrastructure assessment to evaluate the connectivity opportunities for rural New Mexico and will identify the same prospects for the state’s transportation needs, a news release from the DOT read.
"Additional fiber infrastructure would also enhance the department’s Intelligent Transportation Systems, known as ITS, which allows the New Mexico Department of Transportation to install additional digital message boards, cameras and weather sensors, to provide real-time road condition information through the NMRoads application," the news release states.
As the one year anniversary of public schools pivoting to virtual approaches, anything that would help students access education is a good thing, Alamogordo Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Cara Malone said.
"Currently we have some families without Internet or consistent Internet," Malone said. "We have handed out hot spots to those who qualify, which has made a tremendous difference for everyone as we support our students in learning."
Alamogordo Public Schools began distributing Wi-Fi-hot spots to households in need on Jan. 4.
In summer 2020, Alamogordo Public Schools partnered with Otero County to install Wi-Fi hot spots across the county which help with virtual learning for those who do not have ready access to affordable Internet access.
©2021 the Alamogordo Daily News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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