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Colorado officials announce agreement with T-Mobile to provide 34,000 low-income households with free wifi hotspots for remote learning

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Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Colorado officials announced a partnership to provide internet service to thousands of low-income households over the next year while many students are participating in remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The question before us is how we can make sure every child has access to high-quality broadband, especially during the pandemic,” Governor Jared Polis said during a Wednesday news briefing.

“There’s still too many students without a connection in both urban Colorado and rural Colorado,” he said.  

Students in qualified, low-income households will have access to a free wifi hotspot and 100GB of data provided by T-Mobile. The service will be provided to 34,000 households in the state, Attorney General Phil Weiser said. 

The partnership allows T-Mobile to fulfill part of its agreement negotiated by Weiser’s office after it merged with Sprint last year.

Colorado Department of Education Commissioner Katy Anthes also said the state would contribute $2 million from Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act funding to help provide broadband access to low-income households. 

“We will be reaching out to districts soon to let them know how they can apply for these funds,” Anthes said. “Districts can use these funds to purchase hotspots for low-income families in areas with service, but also to identify other creative opportunities” where hotspots might not work.

“Broadband access is now an essential school supply – it’s a non-negotiable,” she added.