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Friona Public Library gets faster internet to help residents stay connected

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - As access to high-speed internet continues to be an issue in rural areas, Facebook and the nonprofit Lonestar Education and Research or LEARN have partnered to enable 10 to 100 times higher internet speed in three libraries in West Texas.

“I think we’re both very passionate about connecting the under connected,” said Boh DuPree, director, network investments at Facebook.

“There are two reason why we ended up with these libraries,” said Akbar Kara, CEO at LEARN. “One was the population, lower population usually means that the infrastructure there is lacking. Number two, the geography of the fiber optic.”

One of the chosen libraries is the Friona Public Library, where director Anahi Gomez says, slow connectivity has been an issue.

“With our older internet we had where it shuts down so, you know, less people can use it,” said Gomez. “We have people who come like, during their lunch breaks and need to do something quickly and then go back to work, so now they have that reliability and speed to get their work done.”

Gomez also says around 40 to 50 people come to the library each day to use the computers for work or school.

“We had a family that had came in and they don’t have computers at home, she home schools her kids so, she’s just so thankful that we have this opportunity for more reliability,” said Gomez.

The partnership will also allow the library to open its Wi-Fi network, allowing residents to get it inside or outside the building and without the need for an access code.

“I traveled to West Texas when we were making these connections to the libraries and it was great to see a young man really talk about the connectivity and how important it was for him to get his school done,” said DuPree.

Now the library is working on expanding its services to the weekends.

“You know, kind of give those students the opportunity to do their homework or, if they need to get anything done,” said Gomez.

Facebook used their own capital to build their fiber optic infrastructure, while LEARN was able to use grant money to enable some of the electronic and actual services so that the libraries can have more bandwidth for the same amount of budget.

LEARN says this is building for the long horn and hopes the services can be used for generations to come.

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