The Everybody Learns Initiative Benefits Willimantic Public Library

How expanding broadband internet access benefits Willimantic community

It’s National Digital Inclusion Week!

Visit this link to learn more about the benefits of the Everybody Learns project: https://www.wtnh.com/news/connecticut/windham/how-expanding-broadband-internet-access-benefits-willimantic-community/

WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) – Places like the Willimantic Public Library quickly became hubs for free broadband internet access during the pandemic. Even helping out kids who couldn’t do their homework at home.

“They were literally sitting next to libraries or places where they could get an internet connection,” said Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, (D) Connecticut.

The first free WiFi was provided inside the library and then using pandemic relief money through the state’s Everybody Learns Initiative an outside hotspot was added. There will be 200 statewide.

“A big portion of the people coming in especially right now are coming in to access the WiFi,” said Willimantic Public Library Director Dan Paquette.

An effort the governor wants to continue to expand.

“They’ll pull the cable out to that home right here on Main Street it’s sort of easy but for folks who live sort of remote we got to work harder,” said Gov. Ned Lamont, (D) Connecticut.

The state also wants people to be aware of the help that is out there now like the Emergency Broadband Benefit which may provide $50 a month toward most internet bills.

“There’s an income cap of I believe it’s $99,000 a year for an individual. $198,000 for a couple so it’s pretty generous,” said Doug Casey, Executive Director of the CT Commission on Educational Technology.

But Congressman Joe Courtney, (D) Connecticut, says those programs will only continue if congress agrees again to raise the debt limit so the country can pay its bills.

“Last week the house sent a bill to the senate. It is exactly verbatim the same as the bill that was passed in the last Congress with the prior president that he signed into law that raised the debt limit,” said Rep. Courtney.

The library also has eleven mobile hotspots people can check out for three weeks at a time. They provide internet access on the go.

“Since we started offering those in May they’ve almost pretty much always been checked out fully,” aid Paquette.

A project he’d like to expand if the government continues to fund the programs which were already approved.

“We should stop torturing people,” said Rep. Courtney.

For more information, head to getemergencybroadband.org