HARTFORD, CONN (July 29, 2020) – Today Mayor Luke Bronin announced that the City of Hartford will build a free, citywide wifi network accessible to all residents. In partnership with Dalio Education and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the City of Hartford will install an extensive network of outdoor wireless access points across the city, providing a minimum of LTE-standard speed throughout the city at all times and at no cost to residents. The City expects that the majority of city residents will be able to access higher than LTE-speed internet.
“This project is about bridging the digital divide, fighting for educational equity, and expanding economic opportunity in every Hartford neighborhood,” said Mayor Luke Bronin. “Internet connectivity is not a luxury, it’s an essential part of learning, earning, and living today, and we believe that every Hartford resident and every Hartford business deserves a good quality internet connection. We’re going to make that happen through this public-private partnership, and I am incredibly grateful to Dalio Education and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for sharing our vision and making this tremendous investment in our community. I also want to thank Charisse Snipes, who leads our IT team, for her work over many months to develop this plan, and Thea Montanez for leading the effort to build this partnership.”
“Since the pandemic began, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving has focused a majority of our support on basic human needs,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “With schools and businesses closing and people looking to obtain vital services, access telehealth, and educate their children virtually, it became clear that we must expand our definition of Basic Human Needs to respond to the stark digital divide in our region. This is particularly true in Hartford where many neighborhoods have no access to high-speed internet connectivity. We are proud to support this partnership to ensure that every Hartford resident has access to high-speed internet to seek employment, participate in online schooling, access wellbeing services, and a host of other things many of us take for granted.”
“The coming together of the City of Hartford, the Hartford Foundation and Dalio Education to jointly fund the providing of connectivity for the Hartford residents who lack connectivity thrills me,” said Barbara Dalio, Founder and Director of Dalio Education. “It is what needed to happen. Mayor Bronin has been a caring, practical, and smart leader to bring this about.”
“In 2020, the internet should be provided as a basic utility, accessible to everyone – because it is a basic necessity of life,” said City Council President Maly D. Rosado. “Like so many other inequities, uneven access to the internet in Connecticut often reflects deep racial segregation. Residents of Hartford have deserved quality internet for a long, long time, and we are thrilled that we are finally making progress on this critical priority. Our entire city is so thankful to Dalio Education and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for partnering with us to make free internet a reality for all of our residents, and we are also proud to devote significant city resources to this groundbreaking achievement. I also want to thank the team at Metro Hartford Innovation Services, who have worked hard for many months to carefully plan how we can turn this vision into a true reality.”
The project will be implemented in phases, and the first phase will consist of two pilot programs, one in the Northeast neighborhood and one in Frog Hollow. The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. Subsequent phases will extend wifi throughout the North End, the South End, and then the West End of the city.
The total capital investment is approximately $3.8 million. The Dalio Foundation and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving are committing $1.5 million each, and the city will fund the balance of the project as well as recurring costs of approximately $100,000 per year for the LTE connection, leveraging its existing contracts for wireless services.