‘Bring connectivity to our community’: City of Amarillo selects AT&T for its broadband access plan
AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - The digital divide is nothing new and COVID-19 amplified it, showing how essential the internet is and now the City of Amarillo is making sure everyone is connected.
For the past several months, the city has been working on a broadband access plan to support areas with low internet connection and low-income families.
The COA just selected its vendor for the plan, AT&T.
It will be fiber connecting homes, apartments, government buildings and businesses north of Amarillo, allowing for 100 MB in both directions.
The plan will be at no cost to citizens who need financial help, the entire goal is to bridge the digital gap.
“How do you build a workforce when they don’t have the fundamental elements you need to be successful and compete in education? It affects every aspect of life on today’s digital world,” said Rich Gagnon, chief information officer, COA.
In some areas, the city says there is no internet and in others it does not meet broadband standards.
The funding for this project goes back to the American Rescue Plan Act where $6 million was allocated and now AT&T is bringing in even more money to finish the project.
“They’re planning to bring over $20 million to match those dollars and to bring connectivity to our community,” said Laura Storrs, assistant city manager and chief financial officer, COA.
Providing connectivity is only the first step.
Partnerships have been created with multiple agencies such as, Amarillo Area Foundation, Region 16 and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to help with digital education, once the plan is rolled out.
“Being able to provide digital equity, so do those communities have the devices they need to effectively use broadband, do they have the training they need, do they have the digital literacy, so once the broadband is there they can use it to their best use,” said Keralee Clay, senior vice president, Amarillo Area Foundation.
The city says this is the first project of this scale in Texas.
The contract will be presented with AT&T at the next council meeting for approval.
AT&T expects customers to be able to start signing up in six months and should have about 40 percent of area completed in a year and in 18 months about 70 percent.
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