A new partnership with T-Mobile hopes to provide internet access to thousands of Colorado students.
In a Wednesday morning announcement, Colorado Governor Jared Polis released details of a public/private partnership with T-Mobile to provide 34,000 students with free WiFi hotspots. The hotspots will come with up to 100 gigabytes of annual data.
The announcement comes just a few weeks after many school districts began the school year with virtual learning. At the event at Fort Logan Northgate School, Governor Polis discussed the reasons for the free WiFi hotspot plan, which hopes to ensure every family in Colorado has access to broadband internet.
BROADBAND FOR STUDENTS: ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m joined by Attorney General @pweiser, Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes, and Sen. @JeffBridges to make an exciting new broadband announcement to better serve students and families!— Governor Jared Polis (@GovofCO) September 2, 2020
➡️ WATCH LIVE: https://t.co/rd1Mc1cjl2
Polis cited a recent survey conducted by the Department of Education and Education Initiative that revealed 65,000 Colorado students lacked access to the internet. Two-thirds of the students are Latino.
"That learning at home component is more important than ever before," Polis said. "There are still far too many kids at home that lack access to high-speed broadband ... in both urban Colorado and rural Colorado ... Without broadband without access, students are unable to participate in remote learning."
Attorney General Phil Weiser, Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes, and State Senator Jeff Bridges also spoke about the plan:
"Often it's the poorest; often it's on racial lines, which means educational disparities can be made even worse during this time. They need access to broadband to do basic learning."
The state of Colorado also filed a petition to the Federal Communications Commission to increase funding toward providing broadband and internet opportunities to all.
Anthes also announced that the Colorado Department of Education will invest $2 million in addition to the T-Mobile partnership to leverage internet access to families across Colorado. Districts will be able to apply for funds to use in providing internet services to low-income families as well as identifying other opportunities in increasing broadband access.
"We are really excited about this partnership, and it doesn't end here," Anthes said. "We are going to keep working together and do our part to really close the digital divide."
Watch the entire announcement here. And share your thoughts in the comments below.