Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird today announced that the City is partnering with ALLO Communications and Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) on the new Learn From Home project to connect students throughout the community. ALLO and LPS are testing a unique wireless network specifically designed for LPS Chromebooks. Based on the results of these tests, ALLO and LPS will begin installing free LPS wireless service in certain locations with high densities of unconnected students.
Mayor Gaylor Baird said the project is another step forward in the community's push for digital inclusion, which includes access to the Internet, to computing devices, and to digital skills and knowledge.
"Before COVID-19, we knew that digital inclusion was critical to economic and workforce development, as digital literacy has become an increasingly key factor in professional and business success," said Mayor Gaylor Baird. "We also knew that digital inclusion was a significant driver of social connections and civic engagement. Now, digital inclusion has become essential to every aspect of our lives - from education, to healthcare, to public safety. It has never been more important to 'close the digital divide' and ensure that everyone has access to the technology and tools they need to succeed."
The partners are seeking the public's help to identify locations where unconnected students live. Those who lack Internet connectivity or who know where a student without connectivity lives are encouraged to call ALLO at 402-480-6550 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Those in apartment complexes with broadband challenges are encouraged to contact their apartment management team and request access for this project. The partners are also working with the Lancaster County Board to create a strategy for LPS students outside the city limits.
"ALLO is proud to be involved in this partnership to further bridge the digital divide in our community," said ALLO Communications President Brad Moline. "This project will continue to benefit our students and our community long after the pandemic is over."
Mayor Gaylor Baird also thanked ALLO, Charter Spectrum and Windstream for their efforts to keep the community connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All three are offering 60 days of free Internet service for eligible new customers. They are also waiving late fees and participating in the Federal Communication Commission's "Keep Americans Connected" pledge to not suspend service to residential and small business customers because of the inability to pay their bills due to the pandemic. More information is available from the providers:
"The most recent data shows that about 89 percent of Lincoln households have some type of Internet access at home, which means that there are still some in our city who lack access," said Gaylor Baird. "The people who lack Internet access tend to be the people who most need access, such as the unemployed, people with less than a high school diploma, and communities of color. Now more than ever, we must commit to creating a fully digitally inclusive city, and I'm thankful to our partners in the public and private sector for helping us realize this goal."
More information on COVID-19 and the City's response is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. The website includes information on how those with symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested in Lincoln.