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Valley students building network to connect residents to internet

(KTAR News/Griselda Zetino)

PHOENIX – A group of college and high school students is coming up with a new way to connect people to the internet.

Students from GateWay Community College and the Phoenix Coding Academy are building a mesh network. It allows devices with Wi-Fi capabilities to connect to other devices and access the internet.

“So even if we are offline, if our devices are connected to the mesh network, we can communicate,” said Melissa Armas, co-founder of the Arizona Blockchain Initiative.

Her nonprofit came up with the idea for the mesh network, which is dubbed Project Phoenix. Starting next year, it’ll serve residents between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street from Broadway to Baseline roads.

Armas said the prototype is being tested at a GateWay Community College lab. Students from there are collaborating with students from the Phoenix Coding Academy on developing and testing the mesh network.

“We want to get students to learn about how to do it and how to build it and maintain it, because we see that it is an important skill to have for the near future,” she said.

When it’s completed, the mesh network will target residents who don’t have access to the internet. In addition to connecting residents to the internet, it will serve as a way for them to access trainings and gain experience for well-paying high tech jobs.

“We started this because we wanted to get undeserved communities into tech,” Armas said.

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