Colorado officials announce programs aimed at expanding broadband access for low-income students

wifi hotspot hot spot
Posted at 11:04 AM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 15:42:24-04

DENVER – Colorado officials announced several programs and agreements aimed at expanding broadband across the state – particularly for low-income households with students.

Part of the expansion will come from an October 2019 settlement from the state with T-Mobile over its merger with Sprint. The company will give free hot spots and 100 GB of data per year for up to 34,000 low-income households with students.

To qualify, families will have to be in a T-Mobile service area, and eligibility will be based on whether or not a student is involved in the National School Lunch Program.

A survey done last spring found more than 65,000 Colorado students did not have internet access. The state officials said the new initiatives and programs would be a start toward ending the internet access gap.

Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes said the Department of Education would be using $2 million in CARES Act money to help school districts increase broadband access for low-income families in both rural and urban parts of Colorado – through hot spots, more possible towers and mobile broadband trucks.

Attorney General Phil Weiser announced the state had filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking it to waive some E-Rate Program restrictions that if approved could free up more money to increase hot spot and broadband access at homes, since many schoolchildren are still learning at home.

“There are still too many students in Colorado that lack access to high-speed broadband at home to support their learning whatever form it takes. This is why the State of Colorado, Attorney General Weiser, and Colorado Department of Education are taking steps today to help more families in Colorado have access to high-speed broadband,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.