In partnership with T-Mobile, the City of Wichita is excited to announce a new, experimental pilot project that will provide free wireless internet access to homes in the Wichita area.
Beginning February 4, 2019, devices referred to as hotspots will be available for checkout at the Atwater Neighborhood Resource Center, 2755 E 19th St. N. and Colvin Neighborhood Resource Center, 2820 S. Roosevelt St. Each device may be checked out for a period of two weeks at a time. Any Wichita resident age 18 or older with ID and proof of address may check out a hotspot from either location.
Recently-released Coolpad Surf hotspots by T-Mobile will provide a 600 MHz LTE cellular connection specifically designed for better coverage within buildings and rural areas. Service for up to 15 devices per hotspot is available on these palm-sized devices. A battery capable of over five hours of continuous use will provide wireless internet access without the need for any additional equipment. Connecting computers, tablets and other devices can be accomplished in the same manner as connecting to any other Wi-Fi network.
Approximately one-quarter of Wichita homes do not have access to the internet. The goal of this project is to lessen the digital divide in Wichita’s neighborhoods. This program is designed to create an inclusive community that will provide conditions to living well, and grows our economy by providing access to information and opportunity to all citizens.
Through the library branch study, demographic data showed that the Atwater and Colvin Neighborhood Resource Centers were best suited for the pilot project where cost is often a barrier to internet access at home. Twenty hotspots will be available at the two participating Neighborhood Resource Center locations, to begin with, and that number will be reviewed at the end of the eight-week pilot. The city will use data gained from the pilot to determine whether the program will continue. While funding for a permanent program would need to be identified, initial funding of the pilot project is being provided by T-Mobile.
The hotspots will have Child Internet Privacy Act filtering enabled on them to prevent access to adult content, gambling and violence. Devices will be protected from fraud, phishing, malicious sites, and spyware. Hotspots can be deactivated remotely on past-due accounts.