Several communities in the Dayton area will use federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds to offer public Wi-Fi access. The pandemic has reinforced the need for reliable Internet in the region.
(TNS) — Several Dayton-area communities are using federal coronavirus relief funding to install free Wi-Fi in their city or village as the need for Internet access has greatly increased during the pandemic.
"This is a must," said
OpenVault, a company that tracks broadband usage, reported in the first quarter of 2020, average broadband consumption in
The increase comes from the March stay-at-home order issued in
"You're seeing this pop up all over the country," Hallinan said. "It's a trend that's getting a lot more attention as a result of COVID-19 and it's a trend that's getting more attention in terms of the
Hallinan said that even if low income people have access to Internet, they likely don't have devices to get on the Internet with. He worked on a project where he and some students were working to help people in the
"The digital divide is documented to show that kids who don't have access to Internet are falling further behind," Hallinan said. "This is really is a justice issue in the end."
Hallinan said ultimately, giving access to Wi-Fi is not enough. Along with Wi-Fi there needs to be a support system.
"It is essential for people to imagine how we can leverage the existence of a Wi-Fi system that gives access to all to create more equity," he said.
Salmeron said this is a business and school need. The coronavirus pandemic has made that even more evident.
"We're in a digital world," Salmeron said. "Everything is online."
Dayton has been allocated about $8 million in federal CARES Act money, which
The city has issued a notice of funding opportunities that says it has $1.4 million in federal CARES Act dollars available to expand broadband access to multiple northwest Dayton neighborhoods, including Philadelphia Woods,
Hallinan said this is a good way to spend CARES funding, because the coronavirus has forced kids to learn remotely and businesses to conduct nearly everything online.
"If you don't do this, then you're cementing the poverty structures that already exist in the community," Hallinan said. "Research supports that if you don't work to erase the digital divide, kids fall further behind and their ability to be successful in the kinds of jobs available to them in this world becomes increasingly impossible."
Salmeron said connecting to the Wi-Fi will be free for the first year. There will be different layers of connectivity, like a private network for businesses and a public connection for people hanging out downtown. In the future,
The schools will contribute about $20,000 for the Internet network. The village will contribute $30,000 of CARES Act funding. Salmeron said the village also received an anonymous donation of $2,000 for the project.
Dayton is looking to provide Internet speeds of 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. The city wants the project up and operational before
Two antennas, set up on the
Visitors outside buildings in the complex and "in the more open areas of the buildings" will be able to use the free service to access the Internet sitting at benches or walking between the center, Warped Wing and other businesses. Pozzuto said the service could be extended to other buildings in the development through agreements with the city or
Hallinan also said that business support will be essential in making municipal Wi-Fi work.
(c)2020 the Dayton Daily News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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