Internet and phone providers are offering free WiFi and unlimited data for students who may not have internet access during the coronavirus pandemic.
Information Technology Services and Nebraska Extension are resources for students who need help accessing the internet for online classes. Additionally, Heath Tuttle, UNL’s chief information officer, said many companies, including Charter Communications, Verizon Wireless and CenturyLink, have signed the Federal Communications Commission pledge to keep Americans connected.
These companies have a variety of ways to keep people connected, such as waiving charges from paying bills late, and UNL’s WiFi connects students to the internet on multiple university campuses. Even though the spring semester for UNL ends on May 8, these options can help students during summer pre-sessions that start ten days later on May 18.
If students have access to other college campuses, Tuttle said they might still be able to connect to eduroam, the WiFi network UNL uses, because eduroam is a connection used on several campuses across the United States. He also said students can use their phone as a hotspot to connect their laptop while working on homework.
While students can go to ITS for issues with technology, Nebraska Extension is a way for students to stay connected to campus.
Michael Bergland-Riese, communications coordinator for Nebraska Extension, said Nebraska Extension has helped students connect with academic advisors or get any questions they have answered. Nebraska Extension has transitioned all of its educational programming to online for students and their families to access, Bergland-Riese said.
The educators at Nebraska Extension have hosted Facebook Live events, online programming and webinar training programs, according to Bergland-Riese.
“You can be sure that Nebraska Extension remains open to best serve the needs of all Nebraskans, including UNL students and their families,” he said.
Charter Communications, a company that offers internet connection through its Spectrum brand, is offering new Spectrum households with students from kindergarten through college free WiFi for 60 days when they sign up, according to a press release. Installation fees are also waived.
Verizon Wireless has waived late fees and automatically added 15GB of data to all its customers on wireless connection, according to a news release.
Sprint is offering 60 days of unlimited data to customers who do not already have unlimited data, according to its website. The company also wrote that customers who are having trouble paying should contact Sprint’s customer service.
T-Mobile and Sprint merged as of April 1, according to a T-Mobile news release, and both companies have the same offers for customers to help during the pandemic.
Tuttle said students should check their provider’s website or call their provider to find out what offers are available. Students with any technical issues can also email ITS at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at (402) 472-3970.
Tuttle said most of the issues he has seen with students haven’t been technical, but rather issues with transitioning to remote learning.
“It’s more about students learning a new way of working, remote learning. It’s very different from the traditional face-to-face learning,” he said. “ … It’s also very different from true online learning. It’s its own thing.”