NWN Delivers Wireless Network Utilizing E-Rate Funding One-to-One Internet Access for Rural School System


Network infrastructure based on Cisco technology, implemented as a full turnkey, end-to-end solution for wireless connectivity and internet access across 19 locations serving 9000 students. Solution relied on P1 E-Rate funding.


  • Significant proportion of costs offset by utilizing P1 E-rate funding.
  • Able to modernize all sites in just three years with E-Rate instead of projected ten years.


NWN Delivers Wireless Network Utilizing E-Rate Funding

  • Industry: K-12 Education
  • |
  • Location: Oxford, NC

Client Snapshot: As part of what they refer to as a “digital renaissance,” Granville County Public Schools had been systematically updating its infrastructure to keep teachers and students at the forefront of learning. In 2013, seven of the most remote locations remained disconnected from the district’s network.


The Granville County public schools had two big technology challenges—weak infrastructure and big ideas. When Vanessa Wrenn took over as director of instructional technology for the district, she concluded quickly that the district’s outdated infrastructure was in the way.

The Granville County Public School District, located in Oxford, NC, includes 21 schools serving 8,944 students in grades Pre-K through 12th. Extending from just north of Research Triangle Park to the southern border of Virginia, Granville is a quasi-rural school district comprised of both suburban and extremely remote areas.

In 2009, under Wrenn’s leadership, the district established a goal of Internet-enabled, as needed computer access for all of its students, regardless of location. Working with NWN, the district launched a phased plan beginning in 2010 to modernize its network infrastructure. The district would need to rely on P1 E-Rate funding to execute its plan. .

In early 2013, the district cleared the final hurdle in its modernization plan.  In the northern part of the district, where seven locations still remained disconnected from the district’s resources, cellular and Internet coverage had always been poor. Ultimately, fiber-optic trunk lines running to some of these schools would be required to bring them into the network.


The Granville County public school district had been working with NWN on technology modernization since the program’s beginnings in 2009. NWN had helped the district with both its technology master plan and its effective use of E-Rate funding.

After assessing the significant challenges presented by the more rural geographies, NWN recommended a solution that would include a robust wireless and LAN communications infrastructure based on Cisco technology, complete with access points, switches, and cabling, along with professional services. Due to the lack of existing cell coverage, the solution would also need to include fiber trunk lines running to the most remote school locations.

Knowing that financing the upgrades would be contingent on obtaining the proper E-Rate funding, the district had solicited bids for the project including the requirement for funding. The district awarded the project to NWN because of its deep experience in Cisco LAN and WLAN technologies and a solid track record in successful E-Rate projects.

Working together with the district, NWN developed a robust technical solution. With this as a basis for its application, the district was successful in securing the funds it needed.

Wrenn stated that NWN was awarded the business based on its detailed approach and its history of expert implementation and thorough follow-up.


Granville Schools saw the project as a great success. The district rolled out wireless connectivity ahead of schedule for all schools. With the approved P1 funding, the rollout was accomplished in just four years, instead of what had originally been projected as a ten year process.

With the backbone in place, Granville now offers a one-computer-to-one-child educational throughout most schools in the district.  Schools even in the most rural locations, are included. Students throughout the district receive iPads, Chromebooks, or MacBook Airs.  All high school students receive a new MacBook Air for all four years of high school.

With a solid technology infrastructure in place, Granville moved to a digital curriculum and created its own complete online school. All students are now required to take at least one course online. In fact, the 115 public school districts across North Carolina have started working together to provide a state-wide virtual public school built from the content contributed by local teachers.

“Today in 2014, the technology is almost expected,” Wrenn explains. “It’s easy to forget what things were like in 2009 when there was nothing, and teachers were apprehensive about the plans for a one-to-one technology-enabled learning experience.”

The first thing everyone remembers is the hush that came over the schools when devices were first rolled out. The quiet ensued for over a week. Discipline referrals dropped almost immediately. Today, the students see their schools as more of a collegiate environment, and prefer to sit in lobbies and other spaces, spending time working on homework at school rather than at home.

When we asked Wrenn about improved grades and test scores, she said it was too early to tell. However, she believes the most important benefit has come from noticeably higher levels of student engagement. Wrenn went on to explain that the primary reason for students dropping out is boredom. With the technology in place and students engaged, the district now boasts its highest graduation rate in history– twenty points higher than before the roll-out.

For more information on NWN Solutions like this one:

Contact Us

Or call us 800.905.0293