San Jose to provide high speed internet access to thousands of students ahead of upcoming school year

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is investing in education throughout his city. On Monday, Mayor Sam Liccardo announced that the city will provide 11,000 high-end hotspots with unlimited 4G LTE data plans to unconnected and under-connected students and residents through a new public-private partnership with AT&T.

Building a Better Bay Area: Back to School

The new partnership also accounts for outdoor Wi-Fi at libraries, community centers, and parks. Officials say it will provide residents in the area with stable internet connection whether the library and community centers are open or not.

"In these challenging times, we are prioritizing getting 8,000 students rapidly connected to the internet -- which will enable them to successfully participate in online learning this coming fall," said Mayor Sam Liccardo in a press release. "This innovative public-private partnership between San José and AT&T builds on a history of high-impact collaboration, and I thank AT&T for their continued commitment to helping San José bridge the digital divide, and Jill Bourne, City Librarian and Director of the Digital Inclusion Branch of the Emergency Operations Center, for her critical work in executing this program."

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Over Zoom, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced a new public-private partnership with AT&T to provide high speed internet to students and residents for the upcoming school year.

This is to help students connect to essential online services and take part in distance learning during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic this upcoming school year.

The County Office of Education will receive 8,000 hotspots and work with school districts to identify students who need access to broadband connectivity by the start of the 2020/21 academic year. The students will receive an AT&T Unite Express 2 Hotspot, free high-speed internet and unlimited 4G LTE data plans, which would allow up to 15 devices in the household to be connected, so that students can participate in distance learning during the school year.

The Library will also provide residents free access to 3,000 hotspot devices available for check out with their library card for a 90-day period, which can be extended once for an additional 30-days.

RELATED: 'It will take a village': New 'learning hub' program could help thousands of SF students with distance learning this fall

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This fall, dozens of rec centers, libraries and community centers across San Francisco will be transformed into "learning hubs," where young students struggling with on-line classwork can go each school day to get support and assistance.

The Hotspot device lending is one of four key priority actions funding through the city's COVID-19 Digital Inclusion Expenditure Plan which was developed to bridge the digital access gap by providing connectivity tools, devices, and Wi-Fi at no cost to thousands of students and residents through the following four priorities:
  • Hotspot Data Plans and Devices for Students and Residents

  • Computing Devices for Students

  • Community Wi-Fi available within the East Side Union High School District boundaries

  • Outdoor Wi-Fi at Libraries, Community Centers, and Parks

"AT&T is honored to extend our relationship with the City of San José and its leaders to deliver creative and innovative ways to keep students connected to their classrooms," said Rhonda Johnson, President, AT&T California. "This collaborative effort will provide San José students with a reliable internet connection to help ensure equal access and opportunities for learning at home."

In addition to the hotspot devices, San Jose has been working with the East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD) and the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) on the expansion of the Access East Side Community WiFi Project which targets the city's districts with the highest need for computer and internet access among its residents.

"The Community Wireless Project is a partnership between the City of San José and East Side Union High School District building one of the nation's first school district-funded municipal Wi-Fi infrastructures, bringing free broadband access to thousands of district families that did not have it before and to tens of thousands of residents in East Side," said Chris Funk, Superintendent of the East Side Union High School District.

The community Wi-Fi partnership with ESUHSD aims to provide digital access to up to 305,790 people who reside in the attendance areas surrounding James Lick, Overfelt, Yerba Buena, Independence, Oak Grove, Andrew Hill, Silver Creek, and Mt. Pleasant High Schools.

To learn more about SJ Access, visit their website here.

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