Non-Profit Agency uses Secure LTE
Wi-Fi to Provide Internet Access to  Families In Need.

Solution: Cradlepoint Router + NetCloud Advanced + TechLab Support | Industry: Non-Profit | Use Case: Secure Public Wi-Fi Network

Highlights

Situation & Challenge

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (BBBSETN) was having difficulty reaching the families and children they served, even before the pandemic affected their operations. With cell phone numbers changing frequently and many families with limited or no access to the internet or internet-capable devices, communicating about critical needs or agency programming was a challenge. In addition, BBBSETN was in the midst of moving their biggest event of the year online as a result of the pandemic, which would have prevented 1 out of 3 families from participating.

Solution

At its downtown Knoxville headquarters, BBBSETN deployed a Cradlepoint LTE wireless edge router to provide the public connectivity, security, and management to solve the challenge. With a NetCloud Advanced software license for additional security and content filtering, the agency can control how their new Wi-Fi network is used, too. Families and children of BBBSETN can now freely log onto the internet from their vehicles outside the building.

Benefits

BBBSETN used RCN’s Technology Ally team to engineer a solution that allows them to more easily connect and communicate with those they serve, provide much-needed free internet access to an underserved community, and make a major impact in the futures of children and families that might otherwise be cut-off from modern technology and limit their life opportunities.

Meet the Customer

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (BBBSETN) is a local agency of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), a youth mentoring organization comprised of more than 350 agencies nationwide. BBBSETN was recently recognized as the BBBS National Agency of the Year for 2020. With over 50 years of service and 619 matches currently, the greater Knoxville area is lucky to have such a dedicated agency serving our community.

 

Situation

With a vision that all children achieve their full potential and a mission to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships for East Tennessee youth, BBBSETN recognized that technology and communication are cornerstones for their organizational operations and for achieving success in their mission and vision. How to solve the challenges related to those goals wasn’t clear, though, and it’s a daunting task for their small but mighty team to bridge the digital divide within the community and people it served. Overcoming these obstacles became even more important when stay-at-home orders and the closure of public Wi-Fi access locations like libraries began to occur due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As a non-profit, we often are the least important to companies. During this instance, we felt we were just as important as clients in million-dollar deals and we really appreciated the treatment and process. Their team was super prompt, kind, and very friendly and helpful".

Brent Waugh

CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee

Needs

Communicating with BBBSETN Stakeholders

BBBSETN had been communicating with an audience whose phone numbers frequently change and who don’t have routine access to email. This resulted in many important communications either missed or not making it in time. 

BBBSETN needed to find a solution that helped their audiences get more reliable connectivity to communicate their important programming, news, and announcements.

Access to the Internet

With the majority of libraries and other public spaces limited or suspended due to the pandemic, previous avenues for many to connect to the Internet were now shut down.

Additionally, more and more education systems were moving to online platforms even though the U.S. Department of Education has found that roughly 7% of school-age children do not have access to the internet at home. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the need for basic connectivity for children and families that were now more isolated than ever before.

Hosting Virtual Events

For a non-profit, celebration and fundraising events are key to success. Moving those events online was a major test of new technology and organizational creativity. 

 

Tight Deadline

BBBSETN’s most exciting and celebratory event of the year, Signing Day, had suddenly become “Virtual” Signing Day and was fast approaching. With the move to virtual, BBBSETN was now broadcasting those graduating high school online.

Unfortunately, 1 out of 3 of the seniors participating didn’t have reliable access to the Internet. BBBSETN wanted to make sure that everyone was able to attend the ceremony and celebration virtually so they could watch themselves, their friends, their child, or grandchild be recognized in real-time.

 

"My biggest concern was timing for a major event, and RCN absolutely helped us easily hit our timeline. They were great at communicating with me in terms I could understand, too".

Brent Waugh

CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee

 Solution

We provided crucial solution architecture, provisioning, and setup support for the entire technology stack used to serve the needs of BBBSETN’s Drive-Up Wi-Fi center. Post-setup support is also part of their ongoing needs and the TechLab is ready to assist and help when needed.

Cradlepoint’s IBR1700 was the enterprise-class wireless edge router used to bring reliable U.S. Cellular LTE data in and broadcast that access in a secure public Wi-Fi connection to those who would drive up and connect. Additionally, the industry-leading service for using and managing Cradlepoint devices allows for an Advanced option to provide more security features and content filtering, which was key for BBBSETN to safely and responsibly provide free public Wi-Fi to children and families.

The entire parking area behind BBBSETN and side streets now have free public Wi-Fi as a program and community benefit.

RCN Public Sector has always held the vision of a Knoxville-Strong partner community. Within this community, non-profits are so often overlooked, so I have a definite passion for coming alongside them to provide solutions that not only allows them to serve their constituents better, but also save money that can then be used towards extending their mission. It's a great cause, and one myself and all of RCN stands firmly behind. I love the heart of BBBSETN. There's this whole group of people pouring themselves out to ensure children in our community are equipped with the maximum amount of resources and care to be successful in life. They are effectively impacting our coming generations for the better, and you can sign me up for assisting in that any day.

Reed Perryman

Director, Public Sales, RCN Technologies

Real-World Solution Benefits

For Non-Profit Organizations

Mobile Wi-Fi Access

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Centralized Network Monitoring & Troubleshooting

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Integrated Content Filtering

Carrier Network Flexibility

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24/7 Enterprise Support

Software Updates for Optimal LTE

RCN Technologies Can Help with Wireless Solutions

RCN Technologies has spent years developing a user-friendly experience that has the right product-priced value engineering for your non-profit. We are specialists in the LTE and 5G wireless technology space and have provided many large-scale solutions with partners.

Our goal is to keep our solutions simple for your business needs. We work with you to make sure that your business has the right products to keep you ready for tomorrow. Call 865.293.0350 today to see what we can do for you!

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