Indiana PBS Supports Datacasting to Boost Remote Learning

(Image credit: IPBS)

INDIANAPOLIS—As the school year is about to kick off and remote learning once again the option for many with the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations (IPBS) is partnering with Jennings County School Corporation to provide datacasting technology to help expand remote learning access to students.

According to IPBS, the datacasting technology will be given to roughly 1,200 students who have little to no access to reliable broadband. Datacasting overcomes this by sending computer-based files over a television broadcast signal.

To carry out the implementation, IPBS member station WTIU is working with SpectraRep, a provider of datacasting technology. The project’s $1.38 million in funding is coming from a grant awarded through Indiana Governor’s Eric Holcomb’s emergency education relief program (GEER), which came as a result of the CARES Act for the specific purpose of improving distance learning/remote learning techniques and tech.

With the GEER grant, WTIU will have datacasting equipment at their station for sending signals to simple receivers and antennas at homes. The signal can be picked up and relayed to Chromebooks and tablets over Wi-Fi.

“The datacasting implementation in Jennings County will serve as a proof-of-concept that can be replicated in counties and school districts across Indiana,” said Mark Newman, IPBS executive director. “It can be a game-changing technology for areas of the state where broadband is limited or unavailable.”

IPBS will ramp up the datacasting initiative over the next two months, with the expectation it will be available to households in early November.