Bedford company helps expand Wi-Fi in Puerto RicoBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
November 26. 2017 11:20PM
BEDFORD — As Puerto Rico continues to struggle post Hurricane Maria, a local company is lending a hand to improve the island’s communications network.
“People are just starving for connection there,” said Kevan Akers, a sports and technology executive with BEI Networks of Bedford.
Akers, along with his company’s CEO, Kris Bruno, recently returned from Puerto Rico, where they helped expand the limited Wi-Fi capabilities that exist there.
Working with the University of Puerto Rico system and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, the duo from BEI Networks delivered about 70 access points and provided expanded Wi-Fi coverage to about 30,000 people within the University of Puerto Rico’s campus and surrounding communities.
“Our goal wasn’t to do the work — it was to train them,” Bruno said. “We were their counsel.”
Communications equipment donated by Extreme Networks was shipped to the island, where Bruno and Akers trained information technology representatives throughout the university system on how to create access points to spread existing Wi-Fi connections.
“They are now able to deploy to outside areas using the donated equipment,” Akers said.
Although the team from BEI Networks only spent five days in Puerto Rico earlier this month, the company says it has longterm plans to continue helping to improve the island’s communications system. “It is going be years before they are functional,” said Bruno, adding BEI Networks will assist with the at-large network and equipment aspect to their recovery.
With more than 60 days without electricity, Akers said the situation and challenges are beginning to weigh on Puerto Rico’s residents.
When residents are able to find Wi-Fi, Akers said they will stop wherever they are — including busy highways — to utilize the service for just a few minutes.
“They really feel cut off, and it is evident,” agreed Bruno, stressing the hum of generators has become the norm.
BEI Networks, which has 15 employees headquartered in Bedford, delivers technology and network solutions to clients such as Citizens Bank, Rivier University, Videotron, Comporium, Polycom and Dell. It also team members located in Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey and New York, and serves both national and international clients.
For the past 26 years BEI Networks has served as a guide and mentor for its clients, helping to strengthen their networks, the company said. BEI also specializes in high density Wi-Fi for sports and entertainment arenas throughout the country.
“We know how to do Wi-Fi,” said Bruno. Helping the University of Puerto Rico expand its Wi-Fi capabilities was a small way to help the island that is going to be struggling for years to come, he added.
“It is a very rewarding experience and a very humbling experience. They want to be heard,” he said.