World Wi-Fi Day: Bridging the digital divide

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This World Wi-Fi Day, HPE and Aruba recognize the contributions of our customer, Land O’Lakes, for their work to bridge the digital divide in rural communities.

Rethinking the cost equation for rural communities

Land O’Lakes became invested in improving broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity in rural communities where the economics don’t make sense for broadband providers. It’s simply too expensive to bring down fiber or invest in building towers in sparsely populated locations. But Land O’Lakes recognized that connectivity is a basic necessity for day-to-day food production. They were investing resources to build intelligent agricultural apps, but without reliable connectivity, the farmers were simply unable to leverage these innovations.

Advocating for broadband and Wi-Fi in rural communities

This lack of reliable connectivity led to the creation of the American Connections Project – an advocacy group comprised of 175 companies focused on promoting broadband and Wi-Fi in rural communities to bridge the digital divide. COVID-19 accelerated their efforts: It wasn’t just about students not being able to do homework, it was about students having internet access to attend school remotely. It was also about internet connectivity for telemedicine to get recommendations from doctors and for employees to work remotely.

Guest Wi-Fi: A starting point

Land O’Lakes started by setting up guest wireless access at 35 of its manufacturing and distribution sites with the help of HPE and Aruba. With the help of the coalition partners, the American Connection Project was able to expand to nearly 3,000 locations. According to Land O’Lakes CTO Teddy Bekele, “It’s a band aid solution but it’s a good start to then putting into place more long-term solutions.”

Meet CTO Teddy Bekele

In the spirit of World Wi-Fi Day, hear from Land O’Lakes CTO Teddy Bekele on how his work is bridging the digital divide.

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