TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Collin Boyce, who works in the City of Tucson's IT Department, dreamed of this announcement back in March. That was in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when it became clear that life would have to move forward from home.
"We made a partnership to build this enormous network that would normally take a year to do, in three months," said Boyce.
The city now has the capability to bring wireless access to 30-50% of Tucson's most populated areas. The best part is, it's free. "We wanted to build an application process where we can vet the needs of the community. A citizen will go there. They'll enter their information on the website. Once they enter their information and contact information, it will verify that they are in the coverage area," said Boyce.
The city has 5,000 routers to give to the community.
To qualify, there are some rules. An applicant must meet the following criteria:
- Lives within wireless coverage area
- Over 18-years-old as of October 31, 2020
- Experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
Applicants must also meet one of the following household requirements:
- K-12 or College student that participates in remote learning at least one day per week
- 60-years-old or older
- Has a health condition that increases risk for COVID-19
"This is allowing us to get things into the hands of people that want to get better and want to learn," said Boyce.
$5.1 million from the Cares Act made the project possible.
Applications opened online on December 9, 2020 and will close on December 21, 2020. Selected applicants are to receive notification from the City of Tucson on December 31, 2020.
"If you're not here on day one, it's not the end. We're still trying to figure out how to continue to help out the city," said Boyce.
The City of Tucson plans to expand the project, dependent on funding received in 2021.
To apply, click here.