Oakland accepted a $500,000 grant Tuesday to help provide high-speed Internet access to underserved residential areas, city officials said Thursday.
The #Oakland Undivided campaign brought internet to low-income households with school children and quickly narrowed the access gap. But, some may still have access points only, and households without children may not have access at all.
An estimated 94,000 residents do not have internet service in Oakland. This represents more than 20% of the city’s population of around 434,000 inhabitants.
East Bay neighborhoods that lack broadband internet access correlate with neighborhoods that have been red flagged since the 1930s, according to a report by the Greenlining Institute.
“We are thrilled to receive this grant, which will support us in developing a comprehensive broadband strategy for the City of Oakland,” said Tony Batalla, Oakland’s Chief Information Technology Officer.
Batalla added, “Access to affordable residential broadband service will help advance the city’s goals for racial equity by addressing social issues associated with the ‘Digital Divide,’ which particularly affects the East and West Oakland areas.”
According to the Oakland Unified School District and the city, concentrations of school-aged children in East Oakland, parts of West Oakland and downtown Oakland still do not have Internet access.
Oakland will use the money it received to update a master plan for fiber optics, as well as design broadband internet projects for underserved areas with the highest priority.
The city will also conduct an assessment to understand where connectivity is lacking and identify city infrastructure that residential Internet service providers like Comcast can use to bring service to the home.
The funds come from a grant from the California Public Utilities Commission.