Collaboration builds on mayor Muriel Bowser’s commitment to give every DC resident a “fair shot”, and provides Washington DC households with multi-gigabit internet at little or no cost to them.
Washington DC has launched a new, open-access infrastructure initiative to bring affordable high-speed internet to neighbourhoods in need in the US capital.
With federal funding through the government’s new Affordable Connectivity Programme, verified households can receive multi-gigabit internet and in-home wifi from WeLink, the first service provider selected, at zero cost.
The collaboration builds on mayor Muriel Bowser’s commitment to give every DC resident a “fair shot”, and provides Washington DC households with multi-gigabit internet at little or no cost to them
“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.
“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.”
WeLink wireless technology is faster to deploy and significantly more cost-effective than traditional in-ground fibre. The provider claims open-access publicly owned infrastructure can accelerate broadband deployment, especially in densely populated urban communities.
“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”
WeLink will begin wireless network rollout in the next 30 days. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical need for reliable and affordable internet access to support virtual learning and facilitate remote work.
The digital divide exacerbates many existing challenges for lower-income communities and communities of colour. Across major American cities, millions of households go without broadband, and millions more pay prices they cannot afford for merely adequate service.
Building on the partnership model with Washington DC, WeLink has announced the Cities Challenge to invest up to $100m of private capital in deploying the company’s turnkey solution in low-income communities across the country.
The company focuses on bringing ultrafast internet to historically overlooked communities to make them future-ready today. WeLink reports the Cities Challenge allows cities to work with WeLink to deliver much-needed digital infrastructure in neighbourhoods identified by government partners.
“The cities and officials that grasp the magnitude of the challenge understand that this is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and there isn’t a minute to waste”
“As cities nationwide work to become future-ready, WeLink is ideally suited to bring affordable ultrafast internet to historically under-resourced communities such as Washington’s Ward 5,” said John Paul Farmer, president of WeLink Cities and former chief technology officer of New York City.
“With WeLink’s groundbreaking technology and the active participation of local governments, communities no longer have to wait years or decades for affordable, multi-gigabit internet. Families no longer have to go without broadband because they can’t afford it.”
He added: “The cities and officials that grasp the magnitude of the challenge understand that this is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and there isn’t a minute to waste. Innovative cross-sector initiatives like the Cities Challenge are how we’ll finally tackle the digital divide together.”
Lasting digital equity
Through the Cities Challenge, WeLink aims to partner with large- and mid-sized cities to accelerate efforts to deliver lasting digital equity. Working with government partners, WeLink anticipates providing streamlined access to publicly owned assets for broadband equipment and, potentially, limited capital assistance for one-time investments such as open-access wiring inside buildings.
Multi-gigabit service from WeLink will come at no cost to households verified through the Affordable Connectivity Programme (ACP) and straightforward, affordable pricing for everyone else.
Starting from 16 May 2022, municipal officials will be able 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 gaining multi-gigabit connectivity beginning in the autumn of 2022.