Oakland is the first city to be selected for a pilot project that will provide internet service to tens of thousands of low-income, black and Hispanic residents of the city who are deprived of it, city officials said Thursday.
EducationSuperHighway, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide Internet service to millions of Americans without it, will partner with #OaklandUndivided, which has provided computers and Internet access to many children in the Oakland Public Schools last year.
#OaklandUndivided has raised over $ 17 million and distributed over 29,000 laptops and 10,000 hotspots to Oakland students in the past school year.
Together, #OaklandUndivided and EducationSuperHighway plan to connect 90% of the city’s 36,951 unconnected homes to high-speed internet over the next five years.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement:
“Oakland is proud to partner with EducationSuperHighway, a key leadership partner of #OaklandUndivided to remove barriers to affordability and dramatically increase broadband access for our most vulnerable populations and permanently bridge the digital divide. “
A report from EducationSuperHighway shows that two-thirds of unconnected households in the United States are not connected because they cannot afford to pay for the internet. The problem disproportionately affects low-income, black and Hispanic people and this is the main reason the digital divide is still open.
EducationSuperHighway and #OaklandUndivided will form Oakland Connect over the next five years to roll out programs to help Oakland residents embrace broadband and get free Wi-Fi in their apartments.
Oakland’s efforts to roll out Wi-Fi in the city through the OAK WiFi initiative played a key role in EducationSuperHighway’s decision to select the city as the first city for the pilot project.
OAK WiFi is a network of live Internet access zones from West Oakland, through downtown and along the International Boulevard Corridor to the border with San Leandro. City council members have allocated $ 7.7 million in federal stimulus funds from the CARES Act to make the initiative possible.
The free apartment Wi-Fi provided by EducationSuperHighway will be modeled after the Wi-Fi provided in hotels where rooms have access to a single Wi-Fi connection throughout the building. Oakland Connect will take advantage of the fiber infrastructure already in place through the OAK WiFi initiative to connect residents to the Internet.
Evan Marwell, founder and CEO of EducationSuperHighway, said in a statement:
We chose Oakland to be EducationSuperHighway’s first pilot city, not only because it is representative of the nationwide broadband affordability gap, but the city is leading the nation in its efforts to reduce traffic. Numeric fraction.
The action taken to connect students during the pandemic provides a model for a broad public-private partnership to close the broadband accessibility gap. “
#OaklandUndivided, which is a partnership between the city, the Oakland Unified School District, and many other groups, provided computers and internet access to many low-income Oakland public school students last year.
As a result of the effort, 98 percent of low-income Oakland public school students now have a computer and the Internet, up from 12 percent when the effort began. The effort was especially needed as students were at home studying remotely during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Phase II of #OaklandUndivided aims to maintain internet access for every public school student in the city, while expanding internet access in less connected areas of the city such as West Oakland, Fruitvale and other eastern neighborhoods.