AT&T got its sums right in a move to land a contract to provide connectivity services to a school purchasing cooperative, a deal the US operator stated will boost access for rural and tribal communities.

The operator agreed a trio of offers for Cooperative Educational Services (CES), which covers 89 public school districts in the US state of New Mexico, including one product relying on AT&T’s FirstNet emergency services network.

FirstNet will be employed to improve safety in schools by connecting school staff and information systems, emergency call handlers and personnel to cut response times. AT&T stated the set-up can also be configured to provide push-to-talk systems to enhance “situational awareness and emergency operations”.

A second element covers a cybersecurity agreement offering means to prevent attacks and breaches: AT&T cited ransomware incidents as an example.

The third element involves providing a Wi-Fi-equipped school bus, a feature AT&T noted would be welcome for students with lengthy journeys. It added this function can also enable bus drivers to access FirstNet “in a crisis”.

AT&T stated CES took action after “witnessing the discrepancies in connectivity for students” during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, which highlighted a “need to transform educational technology on a broader scale”.

Joe Drygas, VP of public sector with the operator, stated the offers AT&T devised “will help close the digital divide for students across the state”, with the wide-ranging connectivity systems set to “enhance the learning experience”.