TUCSON, Ariz. – Tucson City Council is expanding a plan to bring free internet to low income communities. The plan could have some families online before the end of the year.
It’s often called the digital divide–the cost of internet service that can put it out of reach for low income families—and leave those families unable to reach the benefits of the internet for education and economic growth.
Now the City of Tucson is expanding plans to use COVID-19 assistance and other funds to bring internet and wifi transmitters to about 30 neighborhoods based on income levels and population density with special attention to areas with school-aged children.
Vice Mayor Paul Cunningham has led the idea but Ward 5 Councilmember Richard Fimbres convinced the council to expand the plan to reach the Sunnyside School District —a low income area with high internet needs because the district made big investments in student laptops.
Fimbres says, “This is the future of education I believe, because of COVID-19 and the next pandemic that hits us.”
Exact cost is still being figured but the city manager is using an $8.9 million figure with a large share of that from Federal money to help cities cope with COVID-19. If the project stays on track, many of the neighborhoods will be on-line before the end of the year, with the rest by the end of March.
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