Washington, DC will use funding from the Affordable Connectivity Program to launch an open-access infrastructure initiative to bring affordable high-speed internet to neighborhoods in need. The Community Internet Program (CIP) will give Internet Service Providers (ISPs) free access to DC-owned building rooftops if they commit to providing high-speed connections (at minimum, 200 Mbps download/200 Mbps upload). Their antennas will also serve as neighborhood hubs that will be able to feed internet to residential properties – all at no cost to DC.
“The partnership between WeLink and Washington DC marks a major milestone in our efforts to close the digital divide and bring affordable, high-speed internet access to every household,” said Kevin Ross, founder and CEO of WeLink – the first internet service provider to be selected. “Our next-generation technology brings multi-gigabit internet access to thousands of DC residents. Public infrastructure access will only accelerate our ability to deploy quickly and cost-effectively to those most in need.”
The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare, and more. The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households. A household is eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if a member of the household meets certain criteria.
WeLink recently announced its Cities Challenge to invest up to US$100m of private capital to copy DC’s Community Internet Program by deploying the company’s connectivity solution in low-income communities across the country. Through the Cities Challenge, WeLink aims to partner with large- and mid-sized cities to accelerate efforts to obtain digital equity for their residents. Municipal officials are invited to submit an expression of interest form on the WeLink website. The formal application period will be open 1-24 June, with households in selected communities receiving multi-gigabit connectivity starting in the autumn of 2022.