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Tucson expands free internet plan

WiFi for low income areas expands to Sunnyside
Posted at 10:34 PM, Aug 11, 2020

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.