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Free, publicly funded, Wi-Fi program nearing application phase in Tucson

Posted at 10:24 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-27 07:39:14-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — KGUN9 has learned the application process for publicly funded Wi-Fi will begin in early December.

Collin Boyce, Chief Information Officer for the City of Tucson, says 5000 devices will be installed at schools around town.

"There's a wave of 2,500 devices that are going to be earmarked to those schools."

Those devices will send the Wi-Fi signal to qualifying applicants from schools in their neighborhood.

Districts where they'll be installed are: Tucson Unified, Amphi, Vail, Sunnyside and Flowing Wells school districts among other schools in city limits.

"Any of the other non-unified school district schools. So, charter schools, it can be Christian academies," Boyce said.

That's Wi-Fi coverage for 96,110 grade school students who live in Tucson, according to Boyce.

So, how to qualify: Boyce said the city-funded Wi-Fi isn't exclusive to families with students.

"You have had to have financial hardship that's due to COVID."

It is being paid for, after all, with funds the city received from the federal CARES act, so far, it's funded through all of 2021.

"You have to live within the coverage area and then you have to have one of the three: either a school aged child, be over 60 years old or a health condition that puts you at COVID risk."

The service is very baseline, with speeds of 30 megabytes to download and 3 megabytes to upload.

"It's really about allowing tele-work and tele-school for people who have financial hardships."

Boyce said the application period will begin on December 7th and end on December 13th, with the review period running from the 14th to the 18th.

The city is expected to have more information available for families and anyone wanting to apply, online, next week.