Rural GPRC students can access better Internet under Telus agreement

·2 min read

Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC) students living in rural communities will be able to access better Internet under an agreement concluded between GPRC and Telus.

Students are being offered Telus Smart Hubs, mobile Wi-Fi devices, through the agreement unveiled recently.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our students, staff and community,” GPRC president Robert Murray said in a statement.

“Providing our students with accessible and reliable connectivity for course instruction is a primary focus.”

Lindsey McNeil, GPRC communications manager, told Town & Country News the 200 Smart Hubs provided by Telus will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.

The devices will be available to students taking classes remotely through GPRC’s Grande Prairie and Fairview locations, she said.

McNeil also said Telus is providing the Smart Hubs for free to GPRC, and in turn students won’t have to pay for the devices.

The partnership also gives students access to a student mobility plan of 20GB of data for $75 monthly, with no data overage fees, according to GPRC.

GPRC asks students who request a Smart Hub meet certain criteria, including having limited to no Internet access due to being in a rural location.

The student may have consistent connectivity issues or may be from a rural indigenous community, according to GPRC.

GPRC students can also use the Smart Hubs to access mental health resources through GPRC.me/MentalHealth.

According to GPRC, fall classes are currently being offered through a “mixed delivery model,” with most classes being held remotely due to the pandemic.

Brian Bettis, Telus Alberta North general manager, said the company chose to enter the partnership because it recognizes the importance of reliable connectivity in a pandemic.

GPRC entered the agreement while also maintaining a partnership with Athabasca University, joining Athabasca’s online learning platform, according to GPRC.

McNeil credited Athabasca University with demonstrating “world-leading expertise in online education,” and added the Smart Hubs will allow more students to benefit.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News